Twenty-eighth Sunday of the Year Isaiah 25: 6-10; Philippians 4: 12-14 &19-20; Matthew 22: 1-14
“On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.”
The prophet Isaiah’s description of salvation as a lavish banquet spoke to the many unfulfilled longings of our fallen humanity. We, no less than those addressed by the prophet long ago in Jerusalem, long to be at peace with ourselves, with those around us, and, above all, with God. The different circumstances of our lives will dictate the ways in which we experience this hunger. It is a hunger that can never be fully articulated, a hunger that finds its ultimate satisfaction in the presence of the Lord alone.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus echoed the Jewish tradition of the Messianic banquet in his story of a king’s invitation to share in the wedding feast of his son.
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come.”
The drama of the tale had begun with the generosity of a king who had longed to share his joy with his subjects, but soon descended to their uncaring refusal to respond.
“But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.”
Although extreme in its conclusion, the story is a reminder of the hidden interests that govern our lives. Each day will present us with reminders of the love and goodness that have filled our lives. We alone must judge our response to these daily invitations of God’s love.
The tale ended with a banquet thrown open to a gathering of all, the good and bad alike. As Christians, we are already a part of that gathering, called together in the name of Our Lord.
We should not overlook the story’s final twist in the guest expelled from the banquet because he was found without a wedding garment. Many have puzzled about the meaning of this apparently insignificant detail. It is answered perfectly in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
“You are God’s chosen race, his saints, he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3: 12ff
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