Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the Year (A) (15th October, 2017) on the Gospel
Ps 22. (R.v.6);
Matt 22:1-14 or 22:1-10.
In this parable of the wedding banquet, who is to blame – the man who went to the banquet without a wedding robe (unprepared), cf. Matt 22:11-12 or the host who charged his servants to “Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet” (Matt 22:9) or the slaves who “went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad …. (Matt 22:10)? It is important to note that the man without the wedding robe was not among those who were given prior information about the banquet. He was one of the people the slaves met in the streets. Who knows where he was going to before the servants met him with the instruction to invite everyone to the banquet?
Topic: Wedding banquet and the robe.
This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. The invited guests had other things they considered more important than the kingdom of heaven (wedding banquet). We read from the parable, “…they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business” (Matt 22:5). Could it be that the farm and the business could not be attended to if the invitations were honoured? Some of the invited guests could not even bear the sight of the slaves that were sent. Hence, “…the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them” (Matt 22:6).
Considering the plight of the man found without the wedding robe, what could be the reason for the king’s reaction? We read from the parable, “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests” (Matt 22:10). But if they really invited both the good and the bad, how come it was only one man who was not with the wedding robe?
To better understand this, it is important to first understand the cultural background of the parable. This parable was told by a Jew to the Jews and on the Jewish soil. The wedding robe in the Jewish culture can be liken to the robe worn by those who take the readings during liturgical functions. These readers are not expected to come with the robes but to collect it either from the person in charge or the sacristy before going to read. This implies that no matter where a reader is going to when he/she is met with a request to read will not have any excuse for not putting on the Lay Readers’ robe. For this reason, when the king asked the man without the wedding robe, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe? … he was speechless” (Matt 22:12).
I would like us to understand this parable from two dimensions. We read from the gospel,
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly (Mk 13:33-36).
We are called to be ready at all times doing what we are called to. The time the Master calls for each and every one of us is not an excuse.
Again, during every Eucharistic celebration just before the time for the reception of the Holy Communion, the president of the assembly with Sacred Specie raised says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb”. These are the true words of God through an angel, cf. Rev. 19:9. As this biblical text is repeated everyday and everywhere the Eucharist is celebrated, what do you make out of this invitation? Do you partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb of God? If yes, how do you prepare for it or just because others do; so …? If no, why because from the words of Jesus Christ, it is clear that it is not optional:
Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink (Jn 6: 53-55).
We ought to view the wedding garment not as an article of clothing one can put on. The church is not a gathering for showcasing the latest in town. We can partake of the wedding banquet of the Lamb only if we put on our “wedding garment”. Hence, our brother insists,
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves (1Cor 11: 27-29).
Although the invitation to the banquet is gratuitously given, one must make good out of it. Unless one comes prepared, he/she will not enjoy the banquet – both those who did not attend and the one who did not prepare for it paid for their inability to make something good out of the invitation given to them, cf. Matt 22:7,13. The instruction “Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet” implies that the call to repentance is for everybody. Yet the question “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” implies that sinners must make something good out of the invitation. We are all sinners but God who called us all without any merit on our side expect us to come with the wedding garment. Are you ready? Remember, “… many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). Do whatever possible to be part of that few.
Bible Reading: Mk 13:32-37; Lk 12:35-48; 14:15-24.
Thought for today: What do you prefer to God and His call to holiness?
Let us pray: Let us pray: God, give me your grace to enable me always say yes to you with my words and my actions – Amen.
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