I remember how we spent many of our Saturdays in my family back in Nigeria. We would go as a family to choir practice in the parish church to learn and rehearse the hymns for the Mass on Sunday. Then my mother would usually seize that opportunity and ask each of us to go for the Sacrament of Confession too. I used to think she could somehow read our souls. I guess she only had to observe our bad behaviors! Then later back home she would also make sure that the clothes we chose to wear on Sunday were decent for Mass. I remember her saying to me once about the shirt I wanted to wear to Mass, “Are you going to the disco or what?” Then, she would later find a way to ascertain if we really paid attention to the priest’s homily at Mass.

What did all this impress on me then and more so now? It imprinted in my head and heart that the Mass is such a serious event I could not just show up for Mass. I have to come to Mass as prepared as I possibly can so as to receive and respond to all that God was offering to me at Mass.

The parable in Mt 22:1-14 shows the many possible dispositions of the invitees to the wedding banquet the king was giving for his son. There was simple refusal without any excuses and complete indifference, “Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.” There was also violence against the king’s servants, “The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them and killed them.”

Then there is the case of the man who simply showed up after the king’s invitation was extended to all people. He was completely lacking the necessary dispositions to remain in the banquet. When he was asked how he entered the banquet without the garment, he could not explain why he lacked this necessary disposition, “But he was reduced to silence.”

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