FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Isaiah 25:6-10A | Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6 | Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 | Matthew 22:1-14 OR 22:1-10
Through the concerted efforts of Isaiah, Paul and Matthew, we are all invited on this Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time to look forward to the glorious wedding feast where we, the Bride of Christ, His Church — will meet our Groom, Jesus.
Armando's father came home and said it looked as if he would have to go into bankruptcy because his partner had embezzled their accounting firm's funds. His mother went out and pawned some jewelry to buy food for a sumptuous feast. Other members of the family scolded her for it. But she told them that "the time for joy is now, when we need it most, not next week." Her courageous gesture inspires the family anew.
A favorite image for the last day was the image of a banquet which God will provide on Zion, the holy mountain. The Prophet Isaiah wishes his people to understand that the end of their exile in Babylon should be celebrated as a victory, won for them by God, and the new era of peace and restoration as God’s victory gift to Israel. The joy of that victory and the ensuing peace lends itself to a renewed hope for the future when humanity’s most formidable enemy — death — would also be conquered by God. At present, we recognize the feast of the Holy Eucharist as a realization of Isaiah’s vision and as a prelude to the eternal victory banquet yet to come when all the blessed will be called to the Kingdom of Heaven. God himself will wipe away every tear; death and mourning shall be no more for the old order will have passed away (Revelation 19:9; 21:4).
Sofia, a young woman, brought Arnold, her fiancé to meet her parents. After dinner, her father asked the young man into his study for a chat. “So, what are your plans?” he began. “I’m a theology student, sir,” the young man replied. “Admirable!” the father said, “But what will you do to provide a nice home for my daughter?” “I will study and God will provide,” he explained. “And how will you afford to raise children?” “God will provide.” The men left the study and the mother asked her husband, “How did it go?” “He has no money or employment plans,” the father said. “But on the other hand, he thinks I’m God.”
As we continue to read from the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, we hear him proclaim, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” He demonstrates from his own experience that Jesus’ followers must be prepared for anything, good times and bad times. He holds his current situation up as an example. He is in prison, and he so touchingly appreciates the support of his dear friends in Philippi who are always at his shoulder. He witnessed that his relationship with Christ was so sustaining and nurturing that it enabled him cope with every circumstance, whether feast or famine.
The Magbanuas were invited to a sumptuous meal at the Lopez home. Mrs. Lopez was widely known for her amazing contributions to church potlucks. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. As usual, it was a feast for the eyes, the nose, and the palate. Mr. Magbanua's youngest son, Gabriel, received his plate he started eating straight away. “Gabriel, wait until we say grace,” insisted his embarrassed father. “I don’t have to,” the five-year-old replied. “Of course, you do, Gabriel,” his mother insisted in a strong and assertive manner. “We always say a prayer before eating at our house.” “That’s at our house,” Gabriel explained, “but this is Mrs. Lopez's house, and she knows how to cook.”
Our Gospel belongs to the last stage of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus is in Jerusalem and the atmosphere is tense. The chief priests and elders of the people continue rejecting to accept Jesus’ invitation to conversion, healing, and freedom through himself. Jesus for his part does not give up. In the first part of the parable, He continues to summon them through this allegory of the wedding feast. The king is God, and his son is Jesus. The servants are the ancient prophets who call others to be in union with God. The A-list refused to attend. They were too preoccupied with their own lives to accept the invitation – even responding with hostility towards the messengers. As the story continues to unfold, the king opens up the feast to anyone that his servants could find — the good and bad alike — recalling Jesus’ earlier declaration that the kingdom of God was being taken away from these unfaithful leaders and was instead being given to tax collectors and prostitutes. The street people value the invitation, acknowledging their need and their hunger. We know the importance of dressing appropriately for various events and it is embarrassing if we under dress for an occasion. The second part of the parable challenges us. Every guest at the banquet had been provided a gift from the king — the wedding garment. By wearing it the guests showed their respect for the host. But one man was clothed in ordinary, soiled working clothes. He had refused to make the preparation required by the king. The garment provided for him at great cost he refused to wear. Thus, he insulted his lord. One cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven without preparation. In Biblical terms, to change garment means to change style of life or to be converted (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:20-24). We commit to wearing the “wedding garment” and persevering in the grace and dignity that we received at our Baptism. The feast is ready. Food is set on a large buffet table, the wine is poured, and now the host bids us come — right now. The wedding feast is an open invitation, but there is a dress code. Those invited to God’s Kingdom must respond to the invitation with repentance and good works. Are we ready? Are we properly dressed? Christian living demands fundamental change, a new robe for a new life. <enrique,ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum