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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 22, 1-14

Jesus began to speak to them in parables once again,

'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son's wedding.

He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come.

Next he sent some more servants with the words, "Tell those who have been invited: Look, my banquet is all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding."

But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business,

and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.

The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town.

Then he said to his servants, "The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy,

go to the main crossroads and invite everyone you can find to come to the wedding."

So these servants went out onto the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment,

and said to him, "How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?" And the man was silent.

Then the king said to the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot and throw him into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth."

For many are invited but not all are chosen.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Lord continues to teach through the language of parables. And he speaks of a king who is celebrating his son’s wedding and wants to invite the guests. It is the invitation to salvation that the Lord continues to make to all peoples and all individuals. Unfortunately many people still refuse the invitation made to them today. But the king does not resign himself; he wants us to be saved so much that he continues to knock at the doors of our hearts. Indeed, he sends new servants, that is, he continues to make the preaching of the Gospel resound. Often however, after listening to it we block it out, preferring our own affairs and our own commitments. This is what it means to refuse the king’s servants’ invitation. One’s own affairs are more important than the king’s summons. Outraged, the king stops sending servants and instead sends an army to exterminate those murderers and destroy their possessions. In truth, our excessive concern for our possessions puts us in competition that sometimes can become so fierce that it pushes us to destroy each other. But the king does not give up and once again sends out his servants to call all those they meet and invite them to the wedding banquet. This is what it means to say that the Gospel’s invitation is universal: all men and women and all peoples are invited to hurry to salvation. And indeed this time the invitation is accepted and the hall is filled with guests. The Gospel notes that the invitation was addressed to the good and to the evil. Truly no one is excluded from the banquet. With satisfaction we note that the hall filled with guests. It almost seems like God does not care how we are; he just wants us to be there. Everyone is in the hall. In light of other passages of the Gospel, we might say that the poor and sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors, go in before the just. But in any case, whoever shows up is welcomed; it does not matter if they have greater or lesser merit, or whether they are at ease with their conscience. At first sight, in the hall it is impossible to tell who is holy and who is a sinner, who is pure and who is impure. Obviously the Gospel does not eliminate each person’s responsibility: we are all invited to evaluate our own love for the Lord as well as for the poor and our brothers and sisters. And the king, who can read hearts, sees whether or not we have the "wedding robe," that is, the clothing of mercy. We all need to wear this clothing, remembering that mercy covers a great number of sins. It is the absence of love and mercy that makes life a hell here and now. On the contrary, love and mercy open the gates of heaven on this earth.

Memory of the Church