Welcome to God’s Banquet!
Readings: 1st: Is 25, 6-10; Ps:23:1-6 2nd: Phil 4:12-14.19-20; Gos: Mt 22:1-4
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“He brought me to his banqueting table, and his banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:4). Today the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, God invites us to His great banquet. It is, a universal invitation for people of all nations. Hence, the good news this Sunday is that God himself is inviting each one of us personally to his banquet!
In the first reading, Isaiah, brings us this good news of hope: “On this mountain, the Lord of Host will prepare a banquet of rich food…he will remove the mourning veil covering all people…He will destroy death forever…” My dear friends, the best response after this reading should be, Amen! However, we must take two things into considerations here.
First, there is a location for this banquet – “On this Mountain.” So, we must hasten to be there. This is why it is an invitation and we have to make effort to be there if we must enjoy “the banquet and have our tears wiped away!” The second and very important consideration is that, it is a universal invitation. So, rather than read: “strictly by invitation”, it reads “for all people!” In other words, each one of us is a VIP to this banquet.
Hence, God invites us without any restrictions, but we have to be on the mountain to actually partake of his blessings and favors. We can never go to this mountain and remain or return the same way we were. This mountain is God’s divine presence, the place and house of prayer. When was the last time you climbed up there?
In our second reading today, Paul makes two important statements. First, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” He is contented with his place in Christ. So, nothing bothers him. Through this, Paul reminds us that if we respond fully to God’s invitation, He will always strengthen us with his blessings.
Second, he prays for us: “My God will fulfill all your needs in Christ Jesus.” Here, Paul was appreciating the generosity of the Philippians towards him. Paul wishes them well for their generosity towards him and the mission of God. However, it is important to note that God will not fulfil needs that are dubious or selfish. Rather, it refers to genuine needs according to the will of God.
In the gospel of today, Jesus the parable of the wedding feast to teach us that God invites us all to his kingdom for a banquet. The first is the fact that due to the pursuit worldly satisfaction and pleasure, many of us like the first invitees have rejected God’s invitation. The reason is simple, we are too busy to respond to God’s invitation. There is no time for prayer, but we have time for the mundane. The consequences of rejecting God’s invitation is great. The good news is that when the chosen people of God rejected His special invitation, He changed the Invitation Card to: “Everyone (nation) is cordially invited!”
Why was someone thrown out? The matter of the wedding garment is instructive. The man refused to wear the garment provided for the banquet. This was an insult to the king. Just as the king provided wedding garments for his guests, God provides faith and salvation for mankind. He has made these freely available to us, through Christ.
So, refusal be vested properly, will definitely result to being thrown out, or not even allowed to enter the banquet. This is because, on God’s mountain, there is order and obedience. So, let us proclaim: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want …surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the Lord’s House forever and ever. Amen!”
Peace be with you all!