15 October, Sunday – Meeting God On Judgment Day

15 October 2017

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Isaiah 25:6-10

On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food.

On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever.

The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek; he will take away his people’s shame everywhere on earth, for the Lord has said so.

That day, it will be said: See, this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.

We exult and we rejoice that he has saved us.

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Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20

I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can. Glory to God, our Father, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘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. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet 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 crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to 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 out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

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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

My first reaction to today’s Gospel was anger. How could God send a man who was not dressed appropriately to such a harsh and condemning punishment? Isn’t God supposed to be merciful and compassionate? How could He be so cruel? Underlying my anger, however, is fear. What if one day He sends me out and punishes me for eternity? What if in His eyes, my ‘dressing’ (in the form of how well I love others, how compassionate I am, etc) is not good enough for Him?

Such thinking reflects my fears that underneath the veneer of God being a kind and compassionate Father, He is actually calculating, not willing to dialogue or listen, and tyrannical in His ways. But is He really like this? Or am I projecting my own experiences of limitations in human love onto Him?

Notice how in the Gospel, the King addressed the man as, “my friend”. There was equality in his addressing the man, despite his status as King. He was not quick to judge, but ready to listen with compassion when he asked the man why he was not dressed appropriately. It was, however, the man himself who knew that he had no good reason. He could have said that he did not know the dress code and the King would probably have taken pity on him and asked his servants to dress this man. But the man was silent. He knew the dress code.

The man could have said that he did not have the money to adorn himself with the appropriate robes and, again, the King would likely take pity on him. But he was silent, revealing that it was his personal choice to disrespect the King’s request. Perhaps if he had rebelled out of anger at the King, the King would have even taken pity on his anger. But this man had nothing. No personal anger — simply a desire to be his own god and set his own rules.

For those of us who are striving to walk in God’s ways and are afraid that we may still inevitably make mistakes because of our ignorance or struggles, take comfort that God will patiently and compassionately listen to us in our struggles. For those of us who are angry with God and therefore disobey Him, take comfort that He will listen when we cry out in our wounds and anger. But for those of us who sin simply because we want to be our own gods and set our own rules, let this be a reminder that there will come a day when all of us will face the one true God — whether or not we like it — and then we will realize that we are no longer the dictator of our own home but a guest in another’s house.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jean Natalia)

Prayer: We pray for the faith to hold onto the truth that there is a God who has created the world in order, justice, mercy, compassion, intimacy, and love. We pray to live in accordance with this truth.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for constantly challenging me not to base my understanding of who you are on my limited experiences of human relationships, but always inviting me to dare to hope in a new world, a new love, a new home in You.

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