(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 15.10.2023).- Some 22,000 people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square at midday on Sunday, October 15, to recite the Marian prayer of the Angelus with the Pope. Before the prayer, the Hoy Father pronounced the traditional address that precedes the Angelus, which focuses on the Sunday’s Gospel.
Here is the text of the Pontiff’s address, translated from the Italian original by the Holy See.
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Today’s Gospel passage tells us about a king who prepares a wedding banquet for his son (cf. Matthew 22:1-14). He is a powerful man, but he is above all a generous father, who invites others to share in his joy. In particular, he reveals the goodness of his heart in the fact that he does not compel anyone, but invites everyone, even though this way of his exposes him to the possibility of refusal. Take note: he prepares a banquet, freely offering an opportunity to meet, an opportunity for a feast. This is what God prepares for us: a banquet, to be in communion with Him and among ourselves. And we, all of us, are therefore invited by God. But a wedding banquet requires time and commitment on our part: it requires a “yes”: to go, to go to the Lord’s invitation. He invites, but He leaves us free.
This is type of relationship that the Father offers us: he calls us to stay with Him, leaving us the possibility to accept, or not accept, the invitation. He does not propose to us a relationship of subjection, but rather of fatherhood and sonship, which is necessarily conditioned by our free assent. God is respectful regarding freedom; very respectful. Saint Augustine uses a very beautiful expression in this regard, saying: “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent” (Sermon CLXIX, 13). And certainly not because He does not have the capacity to do so — God is omnipotent! — but because, being love, He respects our freedom fully. God proposes: He does not impose, never.
Let us return, then, to the parable: the king — says the text — “sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come” (v.3). Here is the drama of the story: the “no” to God. But why do men refuse his invitation? Was it perhaps an unpleasant invitation? No, and yet — the Gospel says — “they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business” (v.5). They did not care, because they were thinking of their own affairs. And that king, who is a father, God, what does He do? He does not give up, He continues to invite; indeed, He extends the invitation, until He finds those who accept, among the poor. Among those who know they have little else, many come, until they fill the hall (cf. vv. 8-10).
Brothers and sisters, how many times do we fail to heed God’s invitation, because we are intent on our own affairs! Often, we struggle to have free time, but today Jesus invites us to find the time that frees: the time to dedicate to God, that lightens and heals our hearts, that increases peace, confidence and joy in us, that saves us from evil, loneliness and loss of meaning. It is worth it, because it is good to be with the Lord, to make space for Him. Where? In the Mass, in listening to the Word, in prayer and also in charity, because by helping those who are weak or poor, by keeping company with those who are lonely, by listening to those who ask for attention, by consoling those who suffer, one is with the Lord, who is present in those in need.Many, however, think that these things are a “waste of time,” and so they lock themselves away in their private world; and it is sad. And this generates sadness. How many sad hearts there are! For this reason: because they are closed.
Let us ask ourselves, then: how do I respond to God’s invitations? What space do I give Him in my days? Does the quality of my life depend on my affairs and my free time, or on love for the Lord and for my brethren, especially those most in need?Let us ask ourselves this.
May Mary, who with her “yes” made room for God, help us not to be deaf to His invitations.