On Board Without Boarding Pass
(see Mt 22:1-14)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It seems that most of us have had a chance to travel around the world taking public transportation such as buses, trains, ships and airplanes. In any of the cases we do need a boarding pass to get in. A boarding pass not only means that you are honest enough to have paid for your trip but it is also a proof that you take into serious consideration the meaning and purpose of your journey. You are really concerned about your safe, happy and successful trip.
Intentionally or accidentally, some people can board a vehicle, boat or plane without a boarding pass or ticket. Such an incident does surely cause big trouble not only to the passenger in question but to the other passengers and the crew as well amid threats of terrorism.
The trip which we Christians are undertaking to build God’s Kingdom and to enjoy life eternal with Him is so important that we should do the best of our best to accomplish it.
What does “the best of our best” mean? Where can we find it as the key to the home which God has prepared for us according to Jesus’ promise that there are in the Father’s home many places waiting for us?
We can find the key in the Holy Bible where Jesus is calling us to follow Him, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” The key consists of three steps, which are: one, self-denial; two, carrying one’s cross; and three, following Jesus.
Self-denial is the first requirement for us to become Jesus’ disciples. Talking to the young man who wants to look for the way to perfection, Jesus tells him, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me.” “Sell what you have” does not necessarily mean to give up just your property and possessions but it rather means that you abandon your ownership, your very right to accumulate material comforts, detaching yourself from all forms of earthly personal interests, needs and desires. In the very words of Saint Paul, this is as though we were nailed to the cross with Jesus, as though we died to our past and sinful self, as though we were buried with Jesus in the tomb of repentance and conversion in order to be raised one day with Him to new life.
Carrying our own crosses clearly means that we should be more concerned and sensitive Christians, taking full responsibility for what we have to do in the service of God and of our family, society and humanity.
Following Jesus in the biblical context by no way means just to walk after Him, but it rather means to be one with Him, to be united to Him in whatever we think, say, and do. In the words of Saint Paul, we become conformed to the image of the Son of God.
Having failed to meet the abovementioned requirements means that you are on board a bus, a train or a plane without a boarding pass, or in the very words of this Sunday Gospel parable, you are caught in the royal wedding feast without a wedding garment.
To note the words of Pope Francis who strongly states that any Christian who dreams of following Jesus without carrying his or her own cross may run the danger of getting illusion. Amen.
Fr. Francis Nguyen Van Nhut, O.P.