This Is One Party You Don’t Want To Miss

Oct 15, 2017: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalms 23:1-6
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14
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Today’s readings remind us that Heaven awaits us as a party, not a chore. Everybody has to prepare for the party if they don’t want to miss out on the fun.

In today’s First Reading Isaiah describes our future as the ultimate party where shadows and tears are banished, and there is only room for celebration. Everyone, “all peoples,” is invited to this celebration. No expense is spared on the food and the wine. Everything that could sour the party is not just put on hold; it is banished forever. It is not just a moment to forget worries, but to leave them and the tears they cause behind forever more. The Lord is the life of the party on a deeper level than we could imagine.

In today’s Second Reading St. Paul reminds us that moments of famine help us appreciate even more the moments of feast. If you want just one list of all the ups and downs of St. Paul’s missions, just read 2 Corinthians 11:21–33: prisons, beatings, shipwrecks, “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” The Philippians were worried about his hardship, but St. Paul responds that he can live in feast or famine because it is the Lord who strengthens him. There are a few lines omitted in this dialogue, where St. Paul recalls how the Philippians supported him materially in his missionary endeavors, even at times when no other church did. St. Paul assures them that the Lord will provide for them whatever they need as well.

In today’s Gospel, the wedding feast reminds us of Heaven, but also that although everyone is invited to the party, some, in the end, will not be found worthy to participate in it, and some will not want to participate in it at all.

Some had already been invited to the feast, and now servants were sent to tell them it was ready. Obviously, these invitees had a closer relationship with the king: they were invited to come and did not feel obliged to come. The invitees ask to be excused, but just gave excuses not to come: they had known when the great dinner would be held and had made other plans. Some did not even make excuses and just killed the messengers. They either did not want to go or were merely indifferent about going: that showed what they thought of their king, both as their ruler and as their friend. Something or someone else came first.

Abandoned by his friends, the king invited other members of his kingdom, but not on the basis of friendship, just by a benevolence a king owes his people. In the end, he also invites his subjects who are complete strangers to him; perhaps people not even a part of his kingdom at all, “good and bad.” They benefit from the great dinner, but they cannot take the place of those the king wanted to partake of it, his invitees, those he wanted to acknowledge as his friends.

If this parable speaks to us of Heaven, it is also a reminder that God is merciful and good, but in the end, we have to do our part, even a little, if we want to be saved. Salvation is not automatic. The man with no wedding garment had no answer for the king’s question: there was no excuse he could offer, and if the king was displeased, it means something was expected of that man that he did not do. That wedding garment symbolizes having done something to partake and appreciate the marriage feast. This poor man shows no signs of celebration whatsoever. Maybe he represents that Christian who goes through the motions all their life but never actually seeks to help himself or others to get to Heaven. We have to give Our Lord something to work with. The man with no wedding garment managed to get to the banquet hall, but he did not go far enough to stay.

The life of the party not only enjoys himself but helps others to enjoy the party as well. The host simply sets the stage for him to do his important festive work. Even when the party is long over the thought of him brings a smile. If we cast God the Father as the host of the party, Our Lord is the loving Son who personally extends the invitation as a sign of respect for the invitee. Our Lord doesn’t just stop there. As St. Paul reminds us, Our Lord is the life of the party: “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

The Kingdom of God is not just something in the future: Christ the King invites us right now to come to the great feast with every celebration of the Eucharist, to show us how much we mean to Him and to lavish spiritual joy and refreshment on us. Does a vacation come first? Taking the new car for a Sunday drive? Spending the weekend with your spouse? St. Maximilian Kolbe said, “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” What a powerful thought that expresses the true gift of the Eucharist. Though God is everywhere, He comes down from Heaven physically to enter our bodies in the form of the Eucharist. We cannot experience this type of closeness anywhere else on earth. Let’s show Our Lord what He means to us by coming to His banquet frequently, knowing that someday we will enjoy a great and eternal feast with Him and with our family and friends.

Let’s also be those servants who go out and invite others to come to the feast which is already prepared for them and waiting.

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