Tuesday, 5 August 2014

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Do you know what heaven is like? Have you seen heaven? Perhaps our imagination of heaven could have been influenced by what we see in the movies or television. We imagine that heaven would be up there above somewhere in the clouds where everyone has wings and are dressed in white robes and perhaps holding a harp. But is heaven really like that? No. We do not know what heaven is really like, since no one has gone there and come back to tell us exactly what heaven is like. But we do know heaven is in a state of being with God, being in His presence. Other than that, heaven is a mystery, just as God is also a mystery.

However, today's readings give us some glimpses or ideas of heaven. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah gives us an image of heaven where there would be a banquet of rich food; no more mourning as death will be destroyed; every tear will be wiped away as there is no longer any pain or suffering.We would also be able to see God face to face, and not just have some vague idea of what He may be like. In the Gospel, we are once again presented with the image of the banquet through the parable of the wedding feast. What is interesting is that all are welcomed to the wedding feast. In the Gospel, we read that "The servants went out to the crossroads of the town and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike.” However, people are not forced to enter. God chooses to invite all to be with Him, but we can choose not to enter or respond.

One may ask: why would anyone in their right mind not want to be in heaven with God? It may sound crazy or illogical, but there are people who refuse heaven. There are several reasons why people refuse heaven. One could be because some people feel they are not worthy or too sinful to be with God. They feel naked and ashamed, and prefer to hide from God, just as Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after eating the forbidden fruit. This could be the reason concerning the man mentioned in the gospel who was found to be without a wedding garment. The man, by not wearing a wedding garment, by not being prepared and ready to be with God, possibly due to feeling ashamed, and choosing to remain silent, had condemned himself.

Another reason why people refuse heaven is because these people are full of resentment, hatred and unforgiveness. They are unable to love, forgive, reconcile, have compassion and mercy towards others. Heaven is a state of harmonious and loving relationship between others with God. When people are filled with resentment and unforgiveness, they are unable to dwell in a state of harmonious and loving relationship between others with God. Because of this, these people are experiencing hell; and they choose hell because they refuse to love, forgive and reconcile.

What about us? Are we longing for heaven? Or are we refusing heaven? Ultimately, we are given a choice. This choice is for keeps, it is an eternal choice, it is what is called a fundamental option. God does not force us to be with Him; we choose to condemn ourselves by refusing His love, forgiveness, care and providence. We condemn ourselves when we stubbornly choose to remain as we are, thinking only about ourselves and refusing to love, forgive and be reconciled with others. Let us consider carefully the consequences of our choice for there is no turning back.

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