Twenty-eighth Sunday in
October 9, 2011 Cycle A
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Isaiah 25:6-10a
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Second Reading - Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Gospel - Matthew 22:1-14
Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
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. He 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 hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.' Many are invited, but few are chosen."
A wise man once said, "You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Thought I could until I saw the hill... I had friends from the north who loved to ski. Steep slopes, lots of wax and good snow, a perfect combination for a fast-track downhill. Consequently, whenever the weather started to turn cooler, they often would talk about such exciting things. Of course, I was a veteran too! I had been down the slopes... once... but I was flying down with the best! The best of the bunny slopes, anyway... so I thought I could talk about expert-ist things, such as alpine skiing, slalom, holding the poles, etc... I got so caught up in it, that my friends invited me to the slopes one day! Excellent, I've been invited by the experts! At least it seemed excellent, until I thought more about it. Here we go, a nice and easy intermediate slope to start us out! Oh... the chair lift looks a little steep... ok, let's get behind these people, then we'll head down! Oh... maybe we can let these others go too? Alright, see you at the bottom, guys! Oh, yes... I was them at the bottom... after falling on my bottom more than a few times going down that slope... my life flashed before my eyes... as well as a few pines... so I learned quickly, if I really want to talk skiing with my friends, I'd better know how to ski better first, I'd better work at this! Better know how to walk what you talk, especially if an invitation comes along!
Today, our Lord mentions an invitation to a magnificent wedding feast, the third of a string of parables these past few weeks that mention people being invited. One involves sons who are invited by their father, another involves vineyard workers who are invited to work with the landowner, and now we have guests who are invited to the wedding feast of their king... and, like the parables before, they ignore it... just like the disobedient son, just like the disobedient workers... the feast is ready, however, so go out and invite the people on the streets, the food's getting cold! They come, they're hungry, they're ready... but wait! not just yet! This is a king's feast, you need special garments --- if you're going to accept the king's invitation, he will supply you with garments to wear, then all will know who invited you! One can't simply talk about the honor of being invited, you'd better be ready to show that you're a guest of this king... uh-oh - someone is caught without his wedding garment What is his excuse? None, he can't say a thing... just like me on the top of the ski slope... the king had supplied the needed garments. For some reason the guest has thrown his away... no amount of talk will allow him to stay if he won't walk like a true guest of the king...
So what is this wedding garment all about? Why does it get him thrown out ? I used to think, sheesh, that's one strict party... early Scripture scholars saw a lot of importance in this garment, however... Jewish people wore this garment on two key feast days - weddings, showing a couple's love for each other, and Passover, showing God's love for His people. And so the scholars saw this garment symbolizing the life of charity that flows from the honor of being a Christian, the mercy and kindness that results from the new Faith in Christ. All this symbolized in in a garment? I thought charity flowed from the inside... for sure, charity does come from within, but it should show in an external way, much like the way we dress. And it should show something special, it should show something that attracts others --- like at baptism! The baby is dressed in white, scented oil is put on the little one's forehead... beautiful things to show the new life which the baby is living, this new life of faith and charity that comes from the Lord. Does this ever go away? Nope! A husband and wife wear special garments on their own wedding day, but after that wedding day, you always see them together --- why? Because of the garment of charity! A priest is ordained for the Church, and then he's always seen standing at the altar, at the baptismal font and at people's deathbeds - why? Because of charity! It shows on the outside - others will see what you do, what you say, who you are, and they will notice that there is something special there... the garment of Christ himself, which starts in the heart and shows in our dress, in our school, in our work... why? because we walk what we talk...
Sadly, I've heard of cases in college where students don't walk what they talk, and they cheat on their exams. Sure, they received good grades, but they were ultimately cheating themselves... they could talk about passing courses, maybe even a diploma later on, but what good would it be if they couldn't live it out, if they couldn't live from it or apply it? They desired a diploma, but nothing more. In inviting us to the family of His Church, Our Lord desires not just new honors for ourselves, but a relationship of love and charity that will help His Kingdom grow. The tenant who cooperates with the landowner will gain more pay, and the students who study hard will bear fruit with their knowledge, and the Faith which is lived out in love will produce fruit a hundredfold, because it doesn't just impact the individual - it affects others.
That is what we called to in today's readings. That is how we will evangelize our culture, our country, our world! This King is pretty strict about wearing this garment of Christian love, but then it shows how much He wants His kingdom to increase, through the way you all show yourselves to the world, through charity, through mercy, through love - He ardently desires to invite others to the feast, and you are His emissaries! There are still seats available here! If we are so bold as to talk about our Lord here, we had better go out and walk with Him at the end of Mass, so that others can see that there is something that is different in us, we are not ashamed of who we are, we are Catholics and Christins, and we don't ever ignore the call to share this faith, this incredible invitation, through our words and actions. Others will see this, they will find it attractive, they will come to the feast... because they are invited as well! So, who has the invitation for them? You do!