Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Father Daniel Ray, LC
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.
Petition: Father, help me to prepare to be received into your heavenly kingdom.
- A Banquet Beyond Belief: In Palestine during Christ’s time, few festive celebrations rivaled any wedding banquet, let alone a royal one. A wedding was a joyous time, the greatest moment in the lives of the newlyweds. For a royal wedding, it was the greatest moment in the life of the whole kingdom. With his parable of the royal wedding banquet, Christ is giving us a sense of the heaven that he is preparing for us. He is telling each of us, “There is nothing greater than what I want to celebrate with you in eternity!” So if any of our ideas of heaven include something that doesn’t seem attractive or worthwhile, we haven’t yet understood heaven. We should ask Christ to give us a glimpse of the joy he wants us to have with him in heaven.
- Worthy Is as Worthy Does: The king sent invitations to many people, but the response was not what he had hoped for. They rejected his generosity, preferring their own less-than-stellar lives (one went off to his farm, another to attend to some business) over accepting the invitation and participating in the king’s rejoicing. Of course, none of them really deserved to be invited: They hadn’t made themselves worthy by some merit of their own. The king invited them out of his generosity. What made them truly unworthy was their lack of response to this generosity. Their “worthiness” was a gift given to them freely, and it was lost only when they refused the gift. We might ask ourselves, “Am I worthy of heaven?” If we are honest, we realize that the answer is “No.” But in Christ’s eyes, that’s not the important question. The real question is, “Am I responding to and accepting the gifts he has already extended to me?”
- Underdressed for the Occasion: It is embarrassing for both host and guest when a guest arrives at an elegant banquet dressed in shorts and a t-shirt—thinking he was going to an outdoor pig roast or because he did not know any better. It is another situation altogether when the guest intentionally doesn’t dress up because he doesn’t care, or is presumptuous. Then the host is offended, not just embarrassed. In this parable the king is offended because the guest knew he needed to wear a wedding robe and chose not to. Living in God’s sanctifying grace and friendship is the wedding robe we need to wear in order to be received into the eternal banquet. Christ is warning us against the ultimate pride of presumption: showing up at heaven’s gate without the one thing we know we need in order to share in Christ’s joy. If we strive every day to please our Lord and to live in his grace, we’ll have our wedding gown ready for the banquet.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, the gift of heaven you have gained for me is beyond any merit of my own, but it shows me how great your generosity is. How can I not but thank you? How can I not but strive each day to respond to and accept with joyful humility all the graces you want to give me, even when it is most difficult for me?