October 15, 2017
I respectfully invite you to heaven.
I request your presence with me forever.
Who would refuse an invitation like this? Jesus says in the parable we hear this weekend (Mt 22:1-14) that lots of people do. “Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.” Others, he says, “laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.” It sounds crazy! And yet, we do it all the time. We find other things to do besides praying, receiving the sacraments, reading the Bible or serving others.
I can imagine you thinking, “Well, no one would refuse that invitation if they really believed it was real.” Or one might refuse the invitation if they though heaven would be boring.
Would more people come to Mass if they thought it was a glimpse of heaven? In a homily in 2004, St. John Paul II reflected that “Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we participate in the Lord's supper which gives us a foretaste of the heavenly glory." At Mass we join our own suffering, our praise, our sorrow for our sins and our deepest thanks to the Father with and in the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus. We are sacramentally at the cross with Mary and the beloved disciple – and we’re invited to leave our worries there, at the cross.
Mass is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. Jesus told his disciples, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (Jn 6:55-56) Jesus dearly wants to be united with us in love. The invitation is never withdrawn, as there is no sin Jesus cannot forgive. And to remain in him is to begin to experience consolation, confidence, peace, deep happiness, and spiritual strength for the challenges of life.
That sounds heavenly to me.