Friday, October 7, 2011

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Is 25:6-10; Phil 4:12-14,19-20; Mt 22:1-14

The kingdom of heaven, like a royal wedding banquet; those invited selfishly find excuses, and the king then invites all. Those phrases help us to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The readings speak about the Kingdom of heaven that is likened to an invitation to a wedding banquet. All three readings converge on that theme with Paul underlining God’s providence in the midst of life’s highs and lows, in good times and bad. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah offers one of the most beautiful images of this Kingdom, described in terms of the Lord preparing a banquet on the mountain for all people. Isaiah uses very clear graphic description of the great banquet that the Lord will prepare for his people. There will be good food and fine wines; there will be neither mourning nor death for the Lord will destroy death forever. “The Lord will wipe away the tears from every face”. There will be exultation and rejoicing, because the lord “has saved us”. This is all placed in the future. Paul in the Second Reading speaks of God’s Divine Providence, showing how the Lord God provides for his people. That fits in with the theme in today’s First Reading, the Psalm and the Gospel. Paul had learned to be content with whatever he had. He had learned the secret of being well fed, referring to spiritual food. He found strength in the Lord Jesus. While Paul had to endure sufferings for a while, he was convinced of God’s grace that comes with such suffering. He endured all obstacles for the sake of spreading of the Gospel. In the familiar Psalm 23, the Lord prepares a banquet for us in the sight of our foes. This song of thanksgiving to the Lord is a prelude to the Eucharist we celebrate this Sunday. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word eukaristia (εuχαριστία) which means “thanksgiving.”

In the Gospel, Jesus follows up last Sunday’s parable of the vineyard with another one with similar meaning, the Parable of the Wedding Feast. The parable is set in the present. The royal wedding banquet is ready and the king sends his servants twice to invite the guests, but those invited are not interested. The king is God. The son is Jesus Christ, and those invited in the first and second time are the people of Israel. The invited are too busy to accept because they are too selfishness with their free time. Their business is so important that they snob a royal invitation. All this is tantamount to rebellion; to disloyalty and we are told that the king dispatches troops to destroy those murderers and their city. But the king does not give up. He makes a final invitation to everyone his servants can find, an allusion to God's universal invitation to salvation. In the banquet hall, an image of the Church, everyone has a place - "the bad and the good". You and I have accepted God’s invitation to come to the wedding banquet, namely the Eucharistic celebration. However there is one main requirement. All must wear their best in order to participate in the royal banquet. The garments are provided freely through the Sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of reconciliation. God invites us out of a free act of kindness. What do we learn from the readings this Sunday? 1) The parable in the Gospel is a challenge to accept God’s invitation. The question is, are we too busy doing things that do not matter instead of accepting God’s invitation? 2) All are invited to the royal banquet at which there is free lunch, but the only condition is that we must wear the garment of grace provided through the sacraments. 3) We are challenged to accept God’s invitation or to reject it; to wear the wedding garment provided freely or not; to keep our wedding garments pure and spotless, always ready to enter the wedding banquet of Christ. The choice is yours.

©2011 John S. Mbinda
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