Sunday Gospel Reflection
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 22:1-14 | October 15, 2023
Todos! Todos! Todos!
JM Nuqui, Campus & Youth Minister
Malamig ang huling gabi namin sa Lisbon. After the long and tiring pilgrim walk, all we wanted to do was to take a little something to eat, rehydrate ourselves, and rest on whatever sleeping bag we have. Our night concluded with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. After the exposition, I took a walk around Campo da Graça hoping to see some of my friends. Habang ako ay naglalakad, may nadaanan akong grupo ng mga kabataan, na sa gitna ng napakalawak at napakalamig na paligid, ay nakaluhod sa mabato at mabuhangin na patag. Imagine my dear brothers and sisters. We just had our adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. But here are these young people who continue to pray and commune with Jesus – Jesus present in the consecrated hosts stored inside plastic crates, one on top of the other, with a small pot of plant on top of it. (See pinned comment for a more vivid picture.)
Maghahating-gabi na iyon. Dapat nagpapahinga at natutulog na sila. Pero naroon sila, nakaluhod at taimtim na nagdarasal. Inspiring and moving, isn’t it? However, some were rather furious, scandalized, and disappointed. “Bakit nilagay lang sa plastic box ang consecrated hosts?!” “Para namang hindi mga katoliko.” “Binabastos nila si Hesus!” “Kung sino man naglagay kay Hesus diyan ay hindi maliligtas.” Don’t get me wrong, my dear brothers and sisters. They do have a point. But then, we ask, “Nawala nga ba ang pagiging katoliko nila?” Or as they argue, “Hindi na nga ba sila maliligtas?”
Dear friends, we hear in today’s Gospel the parable about a king who called for both the “already-invited-guests” and “whomever [the servants] find in the street” to his son’s wedding feast. Simply put, the Kingdom of God is a banquet where everyone has a place. And I do hope we see that through the years, the Spirit has been deliberately opening up this banquet to wider and wider circles. Hindi ba’t tayo’y nagpapasalamat na mas bukás, maunawain, at may habág na tayo tungo sa suicide, divorce, LGBT, teenage pregnancy, at iba pang mga sensitibo (ngunit palaging personal) na usapin? Pope Francis, in one of his messages during the World Youth Day, phrased it in a more direct and simpler manner, “there is room for everyone in the Church”, and then he invited the 1.5 million pilgrims to say out loud: Todos! Todos! Todos!
Hindi aksidente na tayo ay tinatawag na katoliko. Catholic, meaning universal, inclusive. Thus, as Catholics, we believe in God’s universal salvific will; ibig sabihin hindi lang mga katoliko ang masasalba. Lahat ng mabuting tao – regardless of race and creed, gender, sexual orientation, social status, and yes, even the non-Christians – na may malasakit sa kapwa, marunong humingi ng tawad, hindi mapang-husga, may puso para sa dukha – they have an equal shot at salvation as us. If ever our Catholic Church should be “behind”, hopefully it’s because back there is where the people needed us to be – not left “behind” the times because we have chosen to be narrow-minded, exclusive, rigid, and self-righteous.
Sadly, when we become hyper focused on the rubrics, what should and should not be, when we become stuck with orthodoxy and forget about orthopraxy – we become more “Roman” than “Catholics”, and more painfully speaking, more “Catholic” than “Christian.” Hopefully, my dear brothers and sisters, we don’t become “Cathoholics” – those who are drunk, strict, and rigorous with Roman-Catholic beliefs, rituals, morals, traditions but miss out on the Christian values of compassion, charity, inclusivity, option for the poor, and community life. When we become more clerical than pastoral, when our moral and spiritual compasses are more sin-oriented than forgiveness-driven, kapag tayo ay mas nagiging mahigpit, mapanakit, at makitid – we become more and more like the scribes and pharisees in today’s Gospel who refuse to see the compassion behind God’s great banquet and accept the inclusivity He was lavishly serving in his feast.
Kaya para sa lahat ng dumalo ng World Youth Day, sa anumang dahilan at disposisyon –
the young Portuguese girl for her deepening of faith;
the hippie Italian guy who left with more questions than answers;
the musician French man for his curiosity;
the energetic Venezuelan kids who just basically wanted to participate;
the Brazilian nominal Catholic who tagged along with her friends;
the young professional atheist for simply showing up;
all those who chose to spend the night with Jesus present in the infamous plastic crates;
At para sa ating lahat na patuloy na nagsusumikap tumugon sa tawag ni Kristo – in whatever word and action, kahit na napakarami nating tanong at pagdududa, in every attempt we make no matter how many times we fail and fall short of, sa anumang bokasyon kung saan tayo’y mas makakapagmahal: we are all invited to have a place in this “meal”, this “banquet”, this “feast” that the Lord prepares in God’s kingdom. Sapagkat lahat tayo’y tanggap at pawang minamahal Niya.
Malamig ang huling gabi namin sa Lisbon. But because those whom I encountered decided to be more compassionate, understanding, and caring, because those young people acted and embraced being “more Christian than Catholic”, because there were a lot who kept the doors to the banquet locked open, at dahil napakaraming pagkakataon na tinagpo ako ni Hesus sa mga taong nasa mabato at mabuhangin na lansangan na nagsusumikap dumalo sa hinaing piging ng Diyos – I guess that long, cold night, nevertheless, was warm after all.