for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Isaiah 25:6-10 , Matthew 22:1-14
The theme of the readings for this Sunday, especially the first and the Gospel, is the generosity of God to all of us – all nations and peoples -- by inviting and offering us, even if we do not deserve it, salvation and grace, which is union with Him in His heavenly kingdom.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah uses as imagery of heaven a huge banquet on the Lord’s mountain where there is rich food and choicest wine, where the people of God will gather and where death and suffering and tears will not be present anymore. This prefigures the Holy Eucharist, which Jesus instituted before he died to make Himself sacramentally present with us as food and drink for our souls on our journey to the Father, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus uses the parable of a wedding feast to depict the kingdom of God as a generous offer of salvation to all. The king has prepared everything (the calves and fattened cattle killed) and sends us his invitation to come to the wedding feast, to accept salvation.
However, in the parable, that generous invitation was met with refusal or indifference, and even with hostility.
In our present age, many have ignored or refused that invitation. There are those who just do not care whether there is a God or not. There or those who even promote contrary or divergent values, especially on reverence for life, marriage and family. There are those who initially accepted the invitation but have left the practice of their faith. Mass attendance of Catholics has gone down drastically to 20%, which is a sad indication of how many of us respond to God’s invitation today.
And so in the parable the king decided to invite everyone from the highways and byways and the banquet hall was filled.
What grabs our attention in this Gospel reading is that when the king saw a guest who was not properly dressed for the wedding feast, he ordered his servants to bind him and cast him in the darkness where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.
Why did the king give that order? It was because that guest’s acceptance was one of indifference, if not disrespect. It is like saying: God is generous, so I can do what I want. I do not have to dress especially for this event. I do not have to be upright or live a moral life. God will understand.
Receiving the invitation to life with Christ is one thing. Staying in union with Him is something else. It is not enough to say: “I have accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, and so I am already saved and may do anything I want.”
For accepting the invitation does not guarantee participation in the heavenly banquet. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (Mt. 7:21)
We have to translate our acceptance into action. We not only have to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but to do what it takes to be a disciple, not only to have faith but to prove that faith with good works.
Jesus stresses in the parable that we have to wear a wedding garment.
At our Baptism, we were given a white garment, which symbolizes our being born again in the life of the Most Holy Trinity and through our parents made baptismal promises to renounce Satan and sin and believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in the Church, etc. We must continue to wear the garment of our Baptism now.
St. Paul says that the garment is Christ. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 13:14) We need to put on Christ. This means that we have to have the mind and attitude of Christ in our life, to stand for what He stands for. And Christ showed this to us.
Specifically, being Christ-like means that we have to be generous in forgiving, loving, merciful and kind to one another. We have to do acts of mercy for others in the best ways we can.
My brothers and sisters, as we gather together at the table of the Lord, God’s earthly banquet, where our heavenly food: the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus will be made available to us, let us ask ourselves: “Am I properly disposed to receive Him worthily, that is, I have no unconfessed grave sin.” If so, let us receive Him with great love and reverence. If not, let us receive Him in a spiritual communion and plan to go to confession as soon as possible so we can receive Him worthily in Holy Communion next time.
At Mass we hear the words: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” For the Eucharist is a participation in and an anticipation of the mystical Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Christ the Bridegroom and His Church) at the Consummation of All Things at the end of time. May we on this earth find ourselves wearing a wedding garment for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, to which all are invited. At that time, we would not want to hear: “Friend, how is it that you want to be here without a wedding garment?”#