Readings (Year A):
Reflection: Everyone is invited to the feast
Let us celebrate God’s gift of abundant life to us. This Sunday’s readings describe this gift as a banquet. The prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s promise to provide a feast for his people on the holy mountain. God will dwell visibly amid God’s people and will take away all the things that cause dissatisfaction in this life—including death. The responsorial psalm is about God’s love and care as our shepherd. In the second reading, St. Paul speaks of God’s constant supply of our needs according to God’s glorious riches in Christ.
The gospel likens the kingdom of heaven to a king who prepares a wedding feast for his son and invites people to celebrate. The first group of invitees, who perhaps feel they deserve the invitation, refuse to come. Some give excuses and strangely, others mistreat and kill the messengers sent to them. In anger, the king destroys the murderers and burns their city, then extends the invitation to others. During the celebration, however, the king sees a guest without a wedding garment, and casts him out.
Jesus addresses this parable to the people who reject him, and who rejected the prophets before him. This topic, of the people who resist Jesus and resisted the messengers before him, also featured in last Sunday’s gospel reading about the tenants who fail to live up to expectations in their care of the vineyard and are replaced by the landowner, with other tenants who will be productive. Those invited to the feast prove unworthy of the celebration.
The second group of invitees, that includes all kinds of people, refers to those who are open to Jesus and his message of the kingdom. The mission of the messiah is now open to all. Everyone is invited to come and experience God’s new life and generously share it with others.
The king’s generosity contrasts with the ingratitude of those invited. And yet, this contrast might be present sometimes in our relationship with God. We often fail to be aware and appreciate the love and care that God pours out on us. In the Eucharist, for instance, God prepares a banquet for us, and more than an ordinary meal, God shares God’s life with us for our salvation. Do we come with grateful hearts to this celebration? Do our lives truly reflect the love and sacrifice offered in this celebration? Do we let the cares of this world keep us from focusing on God’s provision?
That everyone is welcome to this feast does not mean there are no rules. The action of the king towards the guest without a wedding garment expresses this. He was expected to be well-dressed even if he got the invitation impromptu. The point is that people belong to this gathering not on their terms but on the king’s. The wedding garment refers to the life of virtue and holiness expected of the baptized. It is not enough to say we are Catholics, baptized, confirmed, married, or ordained, if our lives do not reflect who we truly say that we are. Accepting God’s invitation means we must live up to these expectations. Those who do so will experience the life God wishes to share with us. May God help us by his grace! Amen.