Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
by Fr. Claude Perera, OMI

First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10a
The Messianic Banquet

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-6
The Good Shepherd Psalm

Second Reading: Philippians 4:12-14,19-20
God Provides us in Our Needs

Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:1-14 (shorter form Matthew 22:1-10)
Parable of the Wedding Feast.

Background to the Readings

We have only five more Sundays before we end the liturgical year. In the coming Sundays, the liturgy will concentrate on the end event.

In today’s first reading, Isaiah spoke of a similar end event. That is the Messianic Banquet. The Semitic concept of history is a linear one which has a beginning and a climactic end (the eschaton). They believed that at the end of time, with the advent of the Messiah, He will prepare a banquet of rich and succulent food, and fine, well-strained wines. For Mid-Orient people who lived in the middle of a desert region, such a meal was true and rare fortune. It was not only food that will be offered, but also freedom from sorrow.  That is what was meant when Isaiah said, “On this mountain, he has destroyed the veil which used to veil all peoples, the pall enveloping all nations; he has destroyed death forever.” Covering the face with a veil was a funerary custom among Semites. People have been mourning for their death caused by many wars endured by them. They were constantly under enemy attacks from all four sides. At the end time wars will be no more. As he further said, “Lord Yahweh has wiped away the tears from every cheek; he has taken his people’s shame away everywhere on earth.” Their behaviour as the covenanted people became shameful as they disobeyed the same. Kings, leaders and families and individuals shared in the guilt. They had no alternative except to weep and lament. All awaited the liberation from this disgrace. Indeed, the Messianic times will be the expected time of salvation. Abundance will be at their steps. Sorrow and death will be taken away from them.

With Jesus the Messiah, the Messianic Kingdom has been inaugurated. In the miracles of the multiplication of loaves the Messianic Banquet was alluded to. A similar reality depicted in today’s gospel, in the Parable of the Wedding Feast. The ultimate fulfilment of the Messianic Banquet will be heaven. But there is a penultimate fulfillment of the Messianic Banquet. That took place at the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Eucharist. So long as e are living, the Eucharist is our tangible form of the Messianic Banquet. It does not offer us a five-plate mean as in a five-star hotel. It gives us only two plates which satiates our spirits much more than a ten-plate meal. What are these two plates? They are the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist. The invitation to share at the Table of the Word as well as the Table of the Eucharist has been sent out by His messengers to all baptized Catholics. God is awaiting the arrival of the guests. But nobody except a handful seems to turn up. Some give excuses, others ignore and reject the invitation outright. The king is already enraged that he turned his invitation to anyone and everyone, the good and the bad. Among those who turn up, there may be those ill-prepared to sit at the table, and they will be sent away and punished.

. Every week you are invited to the Eucharist, the Messianic Banquet. At the table of the Word you listen to His life-giving and comforting Word that gives you a sense of direction in your life. At Table of the Eucharist, you are fed with the Body and Blood of the Son of God.  These are immortal foods or the divine ambrosia for the soul. The souls thrive on them. How many people zealously accept the invitation given to the People of God to this Messianic Banquet? Most of us are lethargic. We have many excuses from a to z. For some Eucharist has no value at all. It is not at all a priority for most of us. In Canada, average Sunday attendance id between 15% – 25%. People come for mass at Christmas, Easter, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, and funeral and that as an empty ritual. Medicines and Vitamins do not work on a dead body. Why do we starve our souls when a lavish banquet is being offered weekly and even daily? Having cut off from the source of life, do we expect God to bless us? Having cut ourselves off from the sacramental lifeline, do we expect to bring up our children in a God-fearing manner? When we are starved physically, we suffer malnutrition. Prolonged malnutrition leads to further complications. Is this not true spiritually also. Why don’t we see youth and young families attending mass? Is it anti-clericalism? Is it that they do not find the rites we perform at mass not appealing or monotonous? Is it mere materialism and consumerism that values a prolonged sleep after a late Saturday night of entertainment? Among those who attend Mass is it done out of conviction or out of fear of going to hell after death? How will you feel when you have invited many people for the Thanksgiving Dinner, and many of the invitees do not attend? Why do we grieve God’s spirit? Having displeased God, can we expect Him to bless us? These are questions that need to be answered by each of us adults personally.    

Happy Sunday! Bon Dimanche! Buona Domenica! Schönen Sonntag! Gelukkige Zondag! Szczęśliwej Niedzieli! Sretna Nedjelja!