The Ancient Greek philosophers had concepts that Christianity assimilated into its own teaching to help penetrate deeper the mysteries of faith. One such concept is that of the Good. Aristotle said that all our actions aim at some end. The criteria for discerning the Good according to Aristotle is such that it is the final end we desire in all our willing. Therefore, the Good is desired for its own sake and not as a means for something else. Aristotle called happiness the Good. St. Thomas Aquinas building on the thought of Aristotle, said happiness is to possess and be possessed by God. For Aquinas to possess God is to see Him face to face in the beatific vision in heaven. This is man’s perfect happiness, his beatitudo(beatitude).
Our true human beatitude demands that we do not treat other goods as an ends in themselves. Unfortunately human beings, says St. Thomas, tend to look for happiness in other candidates other than in God. He outlines some typical goods we tend to mistake for happiness such as fame, wealth, honour, power and pleasure.
In the Gospel this Sunday, we see that there were people who were invited to the splendid wedding feast of the king’s son. In light of St. Thomas’s teaching, we can say this banquet is the equivalent of the chief good, the beatific vision. The rich and abundant notions of a feast in the parable takes on a new significance for us, it speaks of the lavishness of being in union with God at the end of time.
The Gospel also echo’s what we have just said about St. Thomas’s teaching on the candidates for happiness and the good. In the parable many people turn down the invitation by the King because some had to attend to their business while others maltreated and killed the servants who were sent to carry their invitation. Can we not say the first group of men were tempted by the desire for wealth and fame that a business could bring? Similarly did the other men kill the servants because they sought some form of power? The Gospel is showing us what St. Thomas articulated, that man often chooses other goods in lieu of the supreme Good, God.
Both St. Thomas and the Gospel is challenging us to question what things in our life are preventing us from receiving God’s invitation to eternal happiness; to the banquet and marriage supper of the lamb. We may have certain idols in our lives that we mistake for happiness and for God. If this is true we are being hindered from union with God, by rejecting God’s invitation to share more deeply in his inner life. Fortunately, as servant of God Catherine Doherty says, “every moment with God is a moment to begin again.” While we still have time on this earth we can repent and accept our Heavenly Father’s invitation to share his divine life. Like the good and the bad who were invited to the feast may we be one of them and not the one without the garment, the one who did not repent and thus was disconnected by his choice from God’s banquet of his presence.
Gospel Reflection for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A (Matt 22: 1-10)