28th Sunday of Year A INVITATION TO THE WEDDING BANQUET

Invitation to a Banquet by Prophet Isaiah (25:6-10)

The banquet is prepared at a very unusual location; on a mountain! This ‘strange’banquet has  lot of things to offer.There will be feast of fat things full of marrow and feast of choice wine well refined.It is very expedient to note that some important salutary things will happen before the meal:• The veil covering the people will be removed• Death will be swallowed for ever• The Lord will wipe away tears from all faces• The reproach of the people will be taken away

The image of God’s banquet looks so wonderful to be part of it. It is free and open for everyone; each person needs to climb up to the mountain. • We all know that mountain climbing is physically challenging and spiritual it even more taxing.• The psalmist once said, “who can climb the mountain of the Lord who can stand in His holy presence?”• He also answers” “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies” (Psalm 24:3-4)

Gospel (Matt. 22: 1-14) 

The Lord uses the parable of a banquet to describe the Kingdom of God. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who decided to put on a wedding banquet for his son.” God desires that each and every one of us participate in that wedding banquet.

The Gospel tells about some people who refused an invitation to a wedding feast, and others who accepted it. 

In ancient times, kings announced the approximate time for a wedding banquet weeks in advance. The exact day of the banquet was given at a later date. To say yes to the advance invitation and not at the later date was considered an insult.

A modern example will illustrate. Suppose your son is retunring home after being out of the country for five years. He’s scheduled to arrive sometime next week, but he’s not sure whether it will be on Thursday or on Friday. You call two of his closest friends and invite them to a welcome-home dinner. You explain the situation and ask them to hold both dates open. They agree enthusiastically. When news comes that your son will arrive on Friday, you call his friends back and say, “The dinner will be on Friday night.” They shock you by saying, “sorry! We’ve made other plans for that night.” 

It was this kind of situation that Jesus had in mind in today’s parable. The audience for whom Jesus intended his parable were the Jews of his time. Ages before, they had accepted God’s invitation to be his chosen people – his special guests at the banquet of the kingdom of God. But when Jesus came to announce the banquet, they rejected his invitation.

The parable shows us three possible kinds of guests. There are the absentee guests who initially accepted the invitation, but when the time came to honour the invitation they drew back. There are the guests without wedding garments who attend the feast but do not take the trouble to prepare adequately for it, as the occasion deserves. And then there are the guests with wedding garments who make the necessary preparation to present themselves fit for the banquet of the King.

It is important to notice that the people who refused the wedding invitation did so, not from evil motives, but from perfectly good and reasonable ones. One man wanted to attend to his land, another to his business; and so on. All perfectly good occupations in themselves. But this is precisely what makes them so dangerous. The greatest danger facing us is not that we might abandon God and turn to evil, but rather that we might ignore his invitation. We prefer to devote all our energies to good goals of our own choosing, thus ignoring God’s invitation to something infinitely deeper and better.

The king asked the man, “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” The man was silent. He had no explanation. The point of the parable is: if you must go the dance, you must wear your dancing shoes. If you must go to a wedding, you must wear your wedding garment. By not wearing a wedding garment, he was physically in the party, but his mind and spirit were not there. He was in the feast but he was not in the mood for feasting. Jesus hates this kind of hypocritical attitude. In fact, it is better not to attend at all than to be there and yet not there. The invitation is to all, the party is free for all, yet anyone who decides to attend has a responsibility to present himself or herself fit for the king’s company. The kingdom of God is freely offered to us. Those of us on the way to the kingdom must spare no effort in acquiring the moral and spiritual character that is consonant with life in the kingdom.

Finally there are the guests who attend the wedding feast, taking care to appear in the proper wedding garment. They are the only ones who have fun and enjoy the party. They are the models whose example we should follow. 

Thus, today’s gospel sends a message to those who are keeping away from the Lord’s Supper that they are missing out on the joy of life. To those of us who have accepted the invitation to come in, this parable warns us not to take God’s grace for granted but to clean ourselves up and become the most beautiful person that we can be in God’s sight. The message is the same as we have in Colossians 3:14: Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

What should be our response to our King’s invitation?• Our response to the king should be wearing the right garment.• The right garment represents ‘New Life’ we have received at our baptism.• It is to be pure of heart, mind and soul to accomplish His purposes by climbing the mountain of divine life on earth.• It may be a challenging task but St. Paul in the second reading assures us that we can do all things through Christ who gives strength and that God will supply all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.• On that mountain God will fulfil all the promises He made to us. When we start taking God seriously, He will start being serious with our affairs.

Let us be conscious of God’s invitation to us to His eternal banquet. In our day and age, some people are still giving excuses to God: ‘I’m too busy, I do not have time.” The word ‘busy’ means ‘bearing under Satan’s yoke’. We often forget that our lives come from God and it will be a show of ingratitude not to have time for the giver of life and time.

May God bless us as we accept His invitation today and dress appropriately for the banquet of the Eucharist which is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

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