28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 (6cd)
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
October 11, 2020
Isaiah speaks of “a feast of rich food and choice wines.” The Lord will provide a great banquet to which He invites his people. It will be greater than any banquet you can imagine. This banquet will be celebrated in the Kingdom of Heaven.
To bring about this banquet the Lord “will destroy the veil that veils all peoples…he will destroy death forever.” When physical death no longer has its grip over us, it changes the way we look at things.
God invites all to this banquet.
A few centuries later Jesus picks up the theme of invitation and banquet. He says, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” The servants are dispatched to “summon the invited guests.” They knew the banquet was coming. The servants tell them the time is now.
What is the reaction of the invited guests? “They refused to come.” They turn down an incredible invitation. Why?
We are told “some ignored the invitation” to tend to other things. What could be more important? Before answering this question let me say that I don’t think they understand what is really being offered. It is not a simple earthly wedding banquet that Jesus speaks of. It is Heaven.
That being said, Jesus says in the parable that one went to his farm. Maybe there was an immediate task that the farmer thought needed to be tended, missing what the banquet offered. Another went to his business. Was this person too interested in material wealth to understand what was being offered in the banquet?
Jesus then tells us that “The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.” Wow! The servants that God sends to deliver his invitation are the prophets. Why did the Israelites mistreat and kill them? Perhaps they didn’t understand the message of the prophets. Was this from a real lack of understanding or was it because they chose not to accept the terms of the invitation.
Do we really understand what God offers us in his invitation to the heavenly banquet?
Are we willing to accept the invitation on God’s terms, meaning following his commandments, following Jesus as the way and the truth and the life or do we want to set the terms, thinking we can live however we want?
Returning to the parable, when the original invited guests turn down the invitation, the king sends his servant out to invite whomever they find, “bad and good alike.”
The newly invited did not know they would be invited. Thus, one might expect they would not be ready. With that in mind, one person showed up “not dressed in a wedding garment.”
When the king sees the man he says, “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” The man could have simply said he did not have one ready. He didn’t.
Instead, “he was reduced to silence.” I think the man’s silence indicates that he knows he is not ready for what has been offered to him.
Are we ready? Are we ready for the Kingdom of Heaven? (Remember, ultimately we cannot save ourselves. It is Jesus who makes us ready.)
Do we understand what the Kingdom of Heaven offers?
The Twenty-third Psalm tells us that with the Lord as our shepherd, we shall not want. The Lord will provide what we truly need. He will give us repose. He will refresh our souls. He will guide us in right paths. This will happen if we accept his gracious invitation.
Have you accepted the Lord’s invitation?
It would be easy enough sitting here in church to say, “I’m here, aren’t I?” but it is possible to come to church without truly accepting the invitation.
It’s important to come to church. It is how we celebrate the Sabbath. It is where we hear God’s Word and celebrate the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of who we are.
Are we transformed by what we receive? When you go out the doors after Mass, do you live like you believe? Are you keeping God’s commandments? Are you living according to God’s Truth?
As Mass ends, I offer the dismissal, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives.” Do you glorify the Lord in the way you live your life? Accepting the Lord’s invitation means coming to Mass, it means praying. It means living as the Lord teaches.
When we accept the invitation, God will give us the grace we need.