The first thing that stands out about the wedding feast of the Lamb, the eternal Eucharist of Heaven (Matthew 22:1-14), is the fact that its choice foods do not spoil; last forever; and without need to be reheated, they are continually delicious. This is a mere human way of introducing us to the most unfamiliar concept of durationwithout the passing of time.
This concept of duration without the passing of time is what we commonly refer to as “eternity,” which is equally impossible for us to understand because we are born in time, and we measure our earthly life in fractions of time. In those fractions of time, we experience changes in ourselves and all around us. Physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, some of the changes we experience are positive and beneficial, others are negative, harmful, and/or embarrassingly humbling. Spiritually, relying on the light of God’s Word, divine grace offered by the Sacraments and all other sanctifying means available in the Church, we are expected to uproot all our sins and strive for perfection (cf. Matthew 5:48).
Even though it is nearly impossible for us, born in time, to picture an endless duration in an endless present without the passing of time, perhaps the concept of perfection should help us a little to conceive our…future of glory and bliss. All changes which we experience happen in time. However, since God is absolute perfection of love; since God cannot improve or worsen, increase, or diminish in any way, God is living in an endless, changeless NOW, for ever and ever.
Our future of bliss and glory consists of us being like God, who is absolute perfection of love without possibility of any change.
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.1 John 3:2
Whatever in us is not perfection of love must be destroyed by fire in Purgatory: the fire of God’s merciful love, the fire of our excruciating sorrow realizing our sins and imperfections, and the fire of faithful people praying to God on our behalf. While living on this earth, conditioned by our innate hubris, and distracted by so many earthly pursuits, we live with only a vague image of our real sinful condition. We tend to focus on the sins and imperfections of others while cherishing a good image of ourselves. Today’s parable might force us to reconsider, so that we may dare to look at ourselves from the Father’s perspective.
The Father’s absolute perfection of love involves also his most intense desire to pack Heaven with as many wedding guests as possible because the endless wedding feast of his Son Jesus, the spotless Lamb, may be enjoyed by the largest multitude of his other children, regardless of their being good or bad.
‘Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.Mt 22:9-10
At this time, I must point out something odd: while all the Saints, without fail, number themselves among the “bad,” we might hold on to an image of ourselves which places us among the “good.” Hence, here are a couple of utterances designed to downsize considerably our perspective.
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?Luke 11:13
In the eyes of the One who is absolute perfection of love, we are indeed all wicked.
All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.Romans 3:23
The only one who never sinned is the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Mother, in view of the redemptive power of her Son Jesus’ blood on the cross.
But then, some might wonder: what about the good that we do to our families, our communities, and all our charitable assistance given to the needy; do they count for anything? All these good deeds do not place us among the “good?”
We ignore what Jesus tells us so bluntly:
Without me you can do nothing.John 15:5
We cannot assess our worthiness, our right to enter the banquet hall based on our perceived performance. Let us apply simple math to understand our miscalculation: A real saint might do 1000 acts of goodness a day, others 100, or 10, and still some, barely 1.
Now, multiply 1 times zero (our nothingness, our lack of personal merits, “Without me you can do nothing”) equals zero. The same is true of 10 times zero, of 100 times zero, and of 1000 times zero; they always equals zero!
In God’s eyes his good and bad children have both zero merits.
This is why the wedding garment is indispensable for enjoying the endless wedding feast. Scriptural scholars have come up with a variety of interpretations. Why not put them all together? The required wedding garment consists of a humble acknowledgment of our unworthiness, heartfelt gratitude for the Father’s boundless mercy applied to us and, most importantly, unwavering hope that we are going to an incredible celebration.
In the meantime, we resolve to be always obedient to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit to love our God and our neighbor with pure intentions so that we won’t be reduced to silence when the King enters the wedding hall to check the propriety of our garment.