Grace to you!
The message of God’s word from Isaiah’s prophecy, Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, and the Gospel of Matthew fills my hearts with joy. I hear of the generous invitation to a more-than-red carpet treat to the Feast of the Lamb (Jesus Christ).
Summarizing these readings, the first one (Is 25:6-10) is prophetic. It speaks of the Great Feast that is to come, eternal life. The second (Phil 4:12-14, 19-20) echoes how God provides for our needs. The third (Mt 22:1-14) tells us that God calls everyone to His feast, but few answer His invitation.
When Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of “On the mountain,” it’s a figure of speech traced to pre-Israelite, Canaanite literature. It represents a glorious heavenly banquet of eternal happiness. This prophetic passage expresses the longing of the people for the days of God’s absolute triumph over His chosen people’s enemies and the Messianic banquet that will follow in the Kingdom of God.
The gift of eternal life and the rejoicing of God’s children in the great banquet has been fulfilled in Christ. The Lord Jesus gave up his life on the Holy Cross for our salvation. Since then, commemorating the Last Supper, God’s children participate daily on a worldwide basis in the Holy Mass, the great banquet, to receive Christ through the Church’s Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Christ has conquered death. He gives us new life. He does so for us in the fullest way through the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, the Eucharist.
We are in the Great Feast, the Royal Wedding Feast. It is a Wedding Banquet that the Father gives for His Son (Jesus Christ). The bride of Christ is the Kingdom of God on earth, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. The ultimate feast will be in heaven when we see the Lord face to face.
Therefore, the Christian assembly is a gathering of those called to the Lord’s party. In the Eucharist, we say of ourselves, “Happy are those called to his supper.” The Lord invites us to a supper, a banquet, a feast. It’s a great feast with some expectations too.
Can you imagine a wedding feast in which everyone sits nonchalantly? Sometimes I go to some churches, and it seems to me that people are not happy coming to the Eucharistic Celebration. The Mass should be the happiest moment in the life of a Christian (Ref. Psalm 122:1)
Jesus’ parable about the wedding feast (Mt 22:1-14) shows us three possible kinds of guests.
First are the absentee guests. They initially accepted the invitation, but when the time came to honor the invitation drew back. The subtle thing about the absentee guests is that they aren’t sinners by evil acts they committed (sin by commission). They’re the so-called good people who say, “I’m good, what need do I have going to Church.” One went to his farm, another to his business. These are lucrative and noble tasks or activities. Sometimes what keeps us away from the joy of the kingdom isn’t the sin of commission (what we actively do). It is a preoccupation with the necessities of life that we are distracted from doing the good we should at the right time. To be devoted to one’s job or family activities is praiseworthy. However, we have to be sure these don’t keep us away from worship, the Lord’s Supper. You don’t want anything to hinder you from experiencing the joy of the Lord in your life. There is a saying that the good is the enemy of the best.
The second are those guests who did not wear their wedding garment. If you must go to a wedding, isn’t it expected you wear appropriate wedding clothes? Here, Jesus is making a strong point against all hypocritical lifestyle to the faith. Those of us on the way to the kingdom are expected to “wear” the moral and spiritual character consistent with the life of the kingdom. We are to clothe ourselves in Christ, righteousness, virtue (Rom 13:14; Eph 4:24; Col 3:12).
There is also the third group; the guests who attend the wedding feast in a proper wedding garment. They are the ones who allow Christ to live in them. They wear the robe of divine life, the saintly who have fun, and enjoy the party. The joy of the Lord fills their heart. The invitation is for us to belong to this camp.
I’m praying that we clothe ourselves in Christ and relish the feast, fulness of life in Christ. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[28th Sunday Ordinary Time A: Is. 25:6-10; Phil 4:12-14, 19-20; Mt 22:1-14]