Sunday Sermon for October 15, 2017, the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Readings: Is 25:6-10; Phil 4:12-14, 19-20; Mt 22:1-14
In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells a parable about a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. In such a celebration one would expect the guests who were invited to be among the upper echelon of society. Such people are often concerned with making a good impression, being seen at important social gatherings, and doing what is politically correct. For whatever reason, the invited guests refused to come the feast,even when summoned a second time! Instead some ignored the servants the king sent to summon the guests, while others mistreated and killed them.
From this response one can gather that these people did not like the king. The failure of those who were invited to come to the wedding banquet and the decision of some to kill his servants might have been their way of protesting and trying to make their point. Unfortunately, the point was made, but it backfired on them.
The king, still determined to have the banquet hall filled with guests had his servants go out into the streets and invite anyone they could find. Although these people would have included beggars, cripples, and even some petty criminals, there was still a requirement to be properly attired. When a man was present who was not wearing a wedding garment, he was bodily removed from the feast, having been found unworthy of attendance by the king.
I think the implications of this are fairly obvious: the King is God the Father, the Son who was married is Jesus. The people originally invited were the Israelites. We are the beggars and unworthy servants who have been invited to the King’s feast. More than that, as members of the Church, we are members of the Mystical Body, the Bride of the Lamb. Right before receiving Holy Communion in the Ordinary Form of the Mass the priest says, “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” That phrase comes from the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation and it refers to the wedding feast of the Lamb. It is our invitation to the wedding banquet of the King’s Son.
While we are certainly not worthy of such an honor, it is a gift bestowed upon us by God Himself. It is now necessary for us to be clothed in the proper spiritual attire so we are not removed bodily and cast into the darkness outside. This means being sure we are always in the State of Grace which unites us with the Bridegroom of our souls.
Being united to Christ Who is Life Himself, we have life through Him and in Him. He is the mountain spoken of by Isaiah in the first reading where death will be destroyed for ever. St. Paul tells us the last enemy to be destroyed is death but, he says, death has been swallowed up in victory. So, death has no more power over Jesus. When we are able to say “Behold our God, to Whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for Whom we looked,” then death will have no power over us either; it will be destroyed forever.
Since we are in Christ and share in His life, we need to have absolute confidence in Him. I find it humorous that we pathetic little creatures do not trust God with our daily needs, yet we claim we trust Him to bring us to Heaven. Jesus told us that if we are not trustworthy is small matters we will not be trustworthy in the big ones. How can we claim to trust God to bring us through death to eternal life, raise our bodies from the dead, and reunite our glorified bodies with our glorified souls if we cannot trust that He will take care of everything for us on the natural level?
St. Paul, in the second reading, is grateful to the people of Philippi for their willingness to provide for his needs, but he tells them that he has learned to live in whatever circumstances God places him: humble or abundant, well fed or hungry, abounding or lacking. He has learned that he can do all things in the Lord; not by his own strength, but by the strength that comes from God.
However, he does not stop there. He tells the Philippians that God will supply fully whatever they need. This is true for us as well. How can we be members of the Bride of Christ? How can the likes of us be invited to the wedding banquet? How can we be clothed with the proper attire? Only by God’s grace! Therefore, trust that He Who has invited you to the wedding banquet of the Lamb will also provide everything for you.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.