Matthew 22:12
[The King] said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.
Jesus used parables because stories have a powerful ability to convey a message that is easier in story than in some kind of theological explanation. This is true about any story that explains the faith. Now, I like the expansion of this parable that I am about to describe, not because I think Jesus failed in describing fully what he wanted to get across, but it is a different side to the story of salvation that God offers us.
For a long time now, I have thought of the silence this man was reduced to. What if he was not reduced to silence, but instead said this to the king? “These are the only clothes I own!” This man, who is destitute, has been invited to a royal event. Will the king throw him out? What if the king, being a merciful and just king, called one of his servants over and said “you see this man? Take him into my chambers, give him a bath, give him some of my clothes, and then bring him back to me.”
This “bath” is exactly what happens to us in baptism. The ragged clothes of sin are thrown away. And we are made part of royalty, and are given Royal clothes! Imagine the scene when this man who had been shunned because of his rags and his filth and stench walks back into the wedding banquet dressed like a king!
The people would no longer shun him, and may even approach him because they think he is an important person. They would probably not even recognize him! How many of you remember the story and the movie “My Fair Lady”? This is the same story as our Christian lives. This is what God has done to and for us.
We are not human refuse to be despised or discarded. No, we are all princes and princesses of the king since God has adopted us, and made us not only royalty, but part of the Bride of the Prince who is the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
Last weekend, I spoke about the necessity for us to know our own story of our walk with Christ. I said: “what we need is our own faith story ready to give to anyone who needs to hear it. Now, for many Catholics this is not something that is a normal operation. In ‘evangelical circles’, it is called a testimony. How did you become convinced of the importance of Jesus in your life?”
While I know that many of you are not watching the recordings, because you are coming to Mass, you can listen to my homilies on the podcasts. The location for the podcast is on the front page of Saint Mary and Saints Peter and Paul bulletin, and will be in the Assumption Guadalupe bulletin, if not this week – next week.
I mention this because I started a series of homilies last weekend that talks about these stories of our faith. We all have a story to tell of our own experiences with Jesus. Next weekend, I want to tell you the stories of my mom and dad. Then, I will tell you my story. So, this will take a few weeks. If you are interested in following the stories, I encourage you to either watch the videos, or tune in to my podcast because I will be going between all of our churches.
While stories are extremely important, and they should be told over and over again, it is impractical to preach the same message, the same story, all the weeks in a row that I would need to so that everyone would hear the stories around my life – my parents, and my own. So I want to encourage you to view the videos, or listen to the podcasts.
Ultimately, the reason I am asking you to do this is to let you have examples that you can use as models for telling your own story. While we will not be all telling our stories in the homily time of the Mass, I hope and pray that by hearing the stories I will say in the next couple of weeks, that you will come up with your own story.
Maybe it will be a story like the man in the gospel, or rather like the man I added to the gospel today. I am ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that every one of us has a story of faith that is worthy to be told. And maybe, by listening to mine, you will have a clue about how to tell your story. And, when you get yours ready, I would love to meet with you and hear your story.
If we have our stories ready, we can become a kind of missionary of the faith right where we are. I think you would be surprised at how many people in the world really are hungry to hear the stories of our faith life. But if we do not have it ready to tell, how can we let them know how Jesus has touched us; how can we let them know that Jesus wants to touch them?