On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Brothers and sisters: I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
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 o the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Last Sunday and this Sunday, our Lord Jesus is trying to tell us what the Kingdom of God is like as we see it on earth. It is not anything that will immediately make us want to join! Rather, it is a collection of the outcasts of our world. We should never think of the Kingdom as a place where only good are. Rather, it is us, who are sinners, who are invited to the Kingdom, if we want to be part of it.
The challenge last week was accepting God’s call. This week, the challenge is to keep free of all entanglements so that we are free to come to feast whenever the Lord calls us. It seems strange that the people in the Gospel do not come to the feast, but they do not recognize what it is that they are turning down. This can happen also to us, so we need to be alert. So often in the Gospels, Jesus admonishes us to be alert, to be on the lookout, to keep vigil—because the Kingdom can come at any time.
Perhaps too often we think that Jesus is referring to the end of the world. Instead, quite likely, He is referring to the opportunities that we have each and every day to live the joy of the Kingdom in our love for others.
The first reading today, from the Prophet Isaiah, talks about how God Himself will prepare a banquet for us. The imagery is wonderful! God will wipe away all tears! This is surely a sign that those who are invited are those who are suffering. The suffering that counts in this life is the suffering that is inevitable as we try to love all others and try not to put our own interests first.
The second reading today, from the Letter to the Philippians, is also clear that Jesus is not telling us that life is only about suffering. Saint Paul tells us: In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.
Thus we need to know how to live in abundance and love others. We need to know how to have nothing and love others. Life is about loving others and we must do whatever it takes to love others. Jesus tells us to love our enemies as ourselves. Jesus tells us that the commandment that counts is to love God and to love others.
When we return to the Gospel of Saint Matthew, we realize that Jesus really is calling everyone to come to the feast, to celebrate in the Kingdom. That call is happening right now, in your life and in my life. We respond to the call by loving others, no matter how difficult it is. Our wedding garment is love.