Proper Attendance?

October 11, 2020 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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We, Filipinos love fiesta. We do anything just to attend a fiesta celebration. Fiestas are special occasions for the whole family and community to celebrate, rejoice, and renew relationships. For us, it means solidarity, bonding, fellowship and community.

In our gospel today, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a very important fiesta where everybody is invited to take part in the celebration – where everybody is invited to attend in the banquet. Jesus also here identifies three kinds of invited guests. They are 1). The absentee, those who did not come to attend; 2) the attendee, those who come and attend, good or bad they may be; and 3) the unruly “the bastos”, those who come but behave improperly.

Every Sunday, there is a Big and Important Fiesta for all Catholics. Everybody is an invited guest to our Holy Eucharist. Our Sunday celebration of the Holy Mass is the Lord’s feast day where all of us are invited to come, attend, partake and celebrate. It is the Lord’s fellowship with us – His Day with us and our Day with Him.

Like in our gospel, we can also discern three kinds of invited guest Catholic in relation to our attendance of the Holy Eucharist. But before I say this, (spoiler alert) let me say, “Bato-bato sa langit, matamaan huwag magalit” o in our modern lingo, “Walang pikunan, Ispup lang.” Don’t get angry if you are disturbed by this – no pun intended.

First, the ABSENTEE guests, those who are invited but did not come, with a lot of excuses or balidad, such as, “I’m busy. I have a lot of things to do… except attend the mass. I have no time.” “I’m too tired. I’m sick (esp. during Sundays); I need rest from staying overnite.” Some would excuse, “Well, what is in it, for me? Wala man koy mapupo niana. The Lord is not worth it” or “I’m not worth of such invitation, anyway I’m a hopeless sinner.”

Second, the ATTENDEE guests, those who are invited and come unworthy they may be. Recognizing their own sinfulness but at the same time their goodness, they feel honored, privileged and grateful to attend and celebrate with the Lord’s fiesta. They actively and attentively participate in the celebration with great respect to the celebrant and other guests. That is why they are called the “Chosen Few” for they willingly respond to the Lord’s invitation.

And lastly, the RUDE and Impolite Guests, those who are invited and came but out of obligation and not fully attentive to the celebration. Again, no pun intended. “Bato-bato sa langit, mataman huwag magalit. Because we may know these guests by the way they improperly dressed for the occasion. Some come on beachware or sportsware: shorts, slippers, sando, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, et al. Some come for fashion show, to show off their latest style with revealing curves, cuts, make-up, hairstyle, beads and even tattoo. Some are ready for “suroy” or “malling” with their low waist & battered jeans and hanging blouses. Some also attend with their cellphones open, maybe they are VIPs, who needs to be updated anytime and they are free to be disturbed anytime, anywhere especially during mass. Some prefers to stay outside the church, who wants to run and escape as soon as the ceremony ends.

I wonder how would you feel if the priests behave the same way. Like, if I stand before you celebrating mass on my shorts or jogging pants and sando, interrupted with a noisy cellphone, mumbling thru the prayers and finished it after 20 minutes?

Pandemic times have somehow deprived us of attending and participating in Sunday Eucharist. The more we are limited in attending Eucharist nowadays, the more we also become conscious of the importance of the Eucharist in our faith and life. Jesus said: ‘Many are called, but few are chosen.” All of us are always invited but few have chosen to come and be worthy guests. Every Sunday, we are all invited guests in the Lord’s fiesta. But we do have our own unique of responding to that invitation.

As we prepare to regularly come and fully participate once again soon the Lord’s Eucharist with us,   perhaps we should try to reflect what type of Invited guest you and I have been, and in what way we can be more worthy guest  and properly attend His celebration.

Thanks you, Lord, for always inviting us to participate with you in the celebration of life God offers us now and forever. Amen.

By  Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay, CSsR (a former Filipino Redemptorist Missionary for Filipino Migrants in South Korea who, due to immune compromised diabetic condition, stationed back home  in the Philippines for now).


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