“Come, for everything is now ready.”
There is a common theme in the Epistle and the Gospel of today. It is that the same God who wants us to love Him in the Eucharist and to come to His heavenly banquet, also wants us to love our neighbor with a practical and real charity. St. John, the “Beloved Disciple,” tells us this: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” We refuse charity only at the price of being murderers who are judged with the reprobate. So, too, in the Gospel: Those who refuse God’s loving invitation to the sacrificial banquet of the Mass will be counted unworthy. St. Luke leaves out the detail that St. Matthew includes, namely, that the servants who invited people to the supper were killed by those they invited, angering the king who was putting on the banquet for his son. The king was not content merely to invite others, but he sent his armies and “destroyed those murderers.”
All this talk of murderers, killing, armies, unworthiness, closing our hearts to our brethren and such, sounds “negative.” If there is a notable dwelling on the negative today, it is because the Church in her liturgy, like the inspired authors themselves, does not simply paint smiley faces with words: She must tell us the hard truths that are just as much part of the Gospel as those that are more consoling to us.
The invitation to the supper — both the sacrificial banquet of the Mass on earth and the nuptial banquet of Heaven — is an invitation to intimacy with Christ, and, through Him to the Charity of the Blessed Trinity. The rejection of charity merits damnation. Those who go to hell go there because they do not love God. But there is a second part of the precept of charity: love of neighbor. If we do not love our neighbors we are “murderers,” and deserve hell on that account.
Consider the positive lessons contained in these hard truths. We can distill them down to two simple commands:
Love the Blessed Trinity as faithful children of the Church by fruitfully participating in the Mass, the sacrificial banquet of Christ.
Love your neighbor not in word and tongue, but in deed and truth.
Here, liturgy meets dogma, and both of them coalesce in the morals of day-to-day life. The same St. John who recorded these words of Our Lord on love of the Eucharist also wrote of love of neighbor: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him” (John 6:57). And: “If we love one another, God abideth in us, and his charity is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12) and again “he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
Consider how it all connects in the Mass:
The Mass is the participation in Christ’s Sacrifice, for the Sacrifice of the Cross is re-presented and applied to us who now dwell in the Mystical Body (the “many” referred to in the consecration of the Precious Blood).
It is the wedding banquet of Christ and His Spouse, the Church, drawing each one of us into His Sacred Heart, and inviting us to a more intimate union with Him.
It is the social worship of the Church who, through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, and in the unity of the Holy Ghost, offers the Father perfect adoration, thanksgiving, reparation and petition.
As the social worship of the Church, it necessitates that those who are worshiping form a society and the bond of this society is charity. St. Peter calls Charity the “bond of perfection.”
That the liturgy brings heaven down to earth and has the power to make us walk away behaving in a heavenly way is beautifully shown in today’s Secret: “May this Sacrifice, offered in Thy name, O Lord, cleanse us from sin, that by its virtue, our daily life on earth may become likened to that of heaven.”
Come to the Mass and learn charity and a heavenly life, for at this mystic sacrificial banquet, “everything is now ready.”