Twenty-Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time
Book of the Prophet Isaiah 25:6-10a; Psalm 23
Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:1-14
Parable of the Wedding Feast, by A. N. Mironov
I once read a story about a young man who left his home and family in search of his fortune. After earning an enormous amount of personal wealth, he returned home after several years. Upon his arrival, he decided to play a trick on his family and friends. He dressed in old ragged clothing and went to see members of his family, and he asked them to give him some food and shelter. Every one of them, both family and friends, refused to give him aid. Afterward, the man bought a mansion and dressed himself in luxurious clothes. He went about his hometown and helped finance business owners who were in need, and he also gave much of his wealth
to the poor and needy. After a few days, the news of his generosity spread throughout the town. One of his relatives who had rejected him said, “If we had only known, we would have acted differently, but it’s too late now. We missed the riches! We missed the invitation!”
In today’s Gospel narrative, we heard Jesus speak to the chief priests and elders through the parable of the wedding feast prepared by a king for his son. Calves and fattened cattle were killed and a long list of guests was drawn up, which included
the wealthiest and most respected people in the kingdom. It is clear that the king wanted the wedding feast to be remembered with joy by his son and his new daughter-in-law. The wedding invitations were sent but the guests pursued their own plans and ignored the invitation. So the king resorted to a bold move—he invited all kinds of people from around his kingdom. Can you just imagine a powerful leader inviting laborers, farmers, fishermen, and even beggars to a royal wedding celebration?
As the parable continues, Jesus gives us another surprise. ALL ARE INVITED—sinners and righteous, as well as unworthy and worthy persons, but not all are invited to stay. Our Lord explains to us that though the Kingdom of God is open to all, accepting the invitation means accepting the responsibility and challenge that goes with Christian discipleship.
If we accept the invitation, we must put on our “wedding garments.” This is a reminder, even a warning for each one of us, about the future that is to come. Therefore, we must clothe ourselves in the garment of virtuous living; better known as living a good Christian life. What I am trying to say is— that the mere membership in our Church, or in any religious organization such as parish ministries or charitable institutions, does not guarantee us salvation. To earn salvation, we must have lived a virtuous life.
I have one final thought that I would like to share with you. We heard Jesus tell us that one of the wedding guests arrived at the feast but was not dressed properly. The guest was questioned by the king, “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” The guest refused to answer the king. The king ordered, “Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” I suspect I don’t have to draw you a picture of what Jesus’ message meant.
I couldn’t help thinking that the king’s response to his guest was a parallel to the way Jesus cares for us and invites us through the story of Lazarus. His beloved friend had died and Jesus stood in the doorway of the tomb comforting his sisters. Then he called, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus responded immediately to Jesus’ invitation, and he came out from the tomb. Rather than wailing and grinding of teeth in the darkness, Lazarus was met with the rejoicing voices of his sisters and friends as he came back to life.
Jesus invites us to do the same. He is summoning us back to life. He offers us the invitation to unbind ourselves from the things that tie us up.
Question of the Day: Can you hear Jesus’ invitation speak to your heart, to leave the darkness and come into the light?
Prayer: “May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, so that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.” Amen. (Today’s Gospel Acclamation)