Sunday Sermon for October 9, 2011, the Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Readings: Is 25:6-10a; Phil 4:12-14, 19-20; Mt 22:1-10
In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells the parable of the king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He invited many guests, but those invited excused themselves while others killed the servants who reminded them of the king’s invitation. The Church aligns this with the first reading from Isaiah which talks about the Lord providing for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wine and, on His holy mountain, He will destroy death forever.
Our first inclination might be to wonder how these two readings are connected. When we look beyond the natural order we can quickly grasp the fact that these two reading are actually speaking of the same reality. In the new Mass, right before Holy Communion, the priest holds up the Host and says to the people, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are they who are called to the banquet (supper) of the Lamb.” This last phrase, which is not contained in the traditional form of the Mass, is taken from Revelation 19:9 and is specifically addressing those who are called to the wedding banquet of the Lamb.
We can infer from this that the Church recognizes that the Eucharist is the banquet of the Lamb. As such it foreshadows the glory of eternal life where each person who is in Heaven will be the bride of the Lamb, Jesus is the Bridegroom, but He is also the banquet upon which we will feast. Obviously this is not understood in a physical or material manner, but must be understood in terms of the spiritual union in which our Lord gives Himself to each soul as a gift and each person gives himself or herself to the Lord as a reciprocal gift.
It is in this context that we can understand the deeper meaning of the first reading where the rich food and the choice wine are the external signs of the true and real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Moreover, it is the Eucharist which is the remedy for death as our Lord makes clear when He tells us that whoever eats His Flesh and drinks His Blood will live forever.
It must also be understood that the holy mountain referred to in Isaiah and elsewhere in the Old Testament is a reference to Jesus. This can be demonstrated by looking at the second chapter of the Book of the Prophet Daniel where a stone, not hewn by human hands, destroys all the kingdoms of the world and grows to become a mountain which fills the whole world. That is Jesus, the mountain to which all nations come for instruction in the ways of God.
So, in our Lord we have food for both body and soul in the Eucharist and in the teachings of our Lord. Recall that Jesus told His disciples that He had food of which they did not know. Specifically, that food was to do the will of His Heavenly Father. When we are able to be united with the will of God, we will not need to search for anything, bodily or spiritual. Our focus will be on God and we will trust Him to provide everything for us.
This was the case with St. Paul as we see in the second reading. From a practical point of view, he no longer worried about being hungry or taken care of in any way because he had learned that God would provide for his needs. St. Paul’s focus was God; God’s focus was on St. Paul. He was grateful to the people who had sent donations to him, but he sought nothing from human beings; instead, he just looked to God to provide for everything.
St. Paul asked the Romans that if God did not spare His only Son, do you really think that He will withhold anything else? Obviously in Jesus, Who is God, our Heavenly Father has given us everything, literally. He will withhold nothing from us; are we withholding anything from Him?
The King has invited you to the marriage banquet of His Son, not just to be a guest, but to be the Bride of the Lamb. Do you accept or decline? He renews His gift daily at Mass. Do we seek Him there or are we searching for something else? He is all in all. Do we find our fulfillment in Him or are we seeking fulfillment elsewhere? Those who reject the invitation and seek themselves rather than Jesus will remain in their selfishness where they will wail and grind their teeth. Those who accept the King’s invitation will feast for eternity on the Lamb of God with whom they are united in love. Which will you choose: yourself or Jesus?
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.