28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)


28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) Mt. 22: 1-14 – Oct 15, 2017

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a King who gave a wedding feast for his son

I feel sorry for those who have to refrain from some delicious food or wines, especially for reasons of health or aesthetics, or just because they want to ignore the invitation and the purpose of the celebration. At least, the literal sense of the first reading and the Gospel today invites us to enjoy a tremendous party with a free meal and drinks. The invitation of the prophet Isaiah is to accept “a feast of rich food and choice wines,” and the invitation of Jesus´ banquet is, “Come, I have prepared my banquet.” The guests are invited to enjoy a first class five star banquet with this menu: "juicy rich food and pure choice wines." How can people refuse an invitation to what will be so a great party?

We hear in today's Gospel that a king invites many people to the wedding banquet of his son. The banquet is prophesied in Isaiah´s first reading: "a feast of rich foods and choice wines" where God "will remove the veil that veils all people (...) he will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face (…) let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us" But too bad, the invited guests refuse to come. They have more important things and priorities in mind. “Some ignored the invitation and went away (…) The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.”

The parable today is also about the kingdom of heaven, and like the one from last Sunday, was addressed to the chief priests and elders of the people, those who refused Jesus´ invitation and were opposed to him; those who were scandalized that Jesus welcomed tax collectors and sinners, and ate with them.

There are many people who think that Jesus was too serious or that he was a gloomy person. But, no, he was a happy man who knew how to enjoy dinners and parties. I love to see pictures of a laughing Jesus. We can try to figure out Jesus at the Cana wedding reception, or talking to children, or in other parties; how happy he would look like. No wonder his enemies called him "a glutton and wine drinker." Reading the Gospel we realize that he loved to be with people, talking and eating together, no matter who the host was or who the guests were. The sign I read at my dentist´s office would agree with those happy pictures of Jesus, “Laughter is the only tranquilizer yet developed that has no side effects.”

In the parable Jesus tells us today, the ones who were first invited to the banquet were the people of old Israel, who often were unfaithful to the covenant and rejected and killed the prophets. At the beginning we might find this parable contradictory: some people refuse to partake in the banquet, and then there is a call to go into the main roads and invite to the feast everybody. A newcomer is rejected because he was not wearing a wedding garment. The message is: those invited at the last moment from the highways must be prepared. Jesus calls everyone, but not everyone responds, therefore, “Many are invited but few are chosen.”

Those gathered from the streets, bad and good alike, who filled the banquet hall were the Gentiles; some accepted Jesus' universal invitation, but some of them were not enough converted and thus did not have the proper "wedding garment” of baptism. We are today the Gentiles who are willing to take part at the banquet he has prepared for us. As the new guests of the parable, we are celebrating in this Eucharis the love of God for us.

One temptation for us Christians is to think that because we have responded to God's invitation, we have nothing else to do or change. Every time we come to celebrate the Eucharist we have the task to grow in love and commitment to God and to our neighbor, until Jesus invites us to his everlasting banquet in heaven.

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