28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Filipinos love banquets. We invite our friends and relatives to special events like weddings, baptisms, birthdays, reunions, arrivals, and funerals. Generally, the invitation is by word of mouth. Sometimes, invitation cards are sent, with or without RSVP (respondez s'il vous plait). In our culture, an RSVP note in an invitation is generally ignored. Those who receive the invitation do not usually respond if they are coming. If they do come, they may decide to extend the invitation to somebody else. The host has to make the estimate. If not too many come, he can always recycle the leftovers or give them away as bring home treats. If too many come, the cooks can always deal with the emergency. If there is not much time, one can always order from the restaurant or the ubiquitous barbecue stands.

Action starter: Make God's business your first priority.

This Sunday's gospel tells the story of a king who threw a party in honor of his son's wedding (Mt. 22:1-14). He sent invitations through his servants. Those who were invited had other priorities and refused the king's invitation. Worse, they maltreated and killed the servants who brought the invitation. The king of course punished them for this insult by killing them and burning their cities. He then invited people from the streets to come to the banquet. A sequel to this parable is another parable about one of the guests who came without the appropriate wedding garment. This too was an affront to the king and he was thrown out of the wedding hall.

The banquet is the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a state of plenty, joy, unity, and harmony. This is exemplified in the first reading where the Lord Almighty will prepare a banquet for all the nations of the world on Mount Zion (Is. 25:6). “Here he will suddenly remove the cloud of sorrow that has been hanging over all the nations (v.7). The banquet is a symbol of human aspirations for a better world here and hereafter. Food and drink for the hungry and thirsty, friendship and company for the lonely, recognition for the lowly, reconciliation for those in conflict, and acceptance for the rejected.

Almost two thousand years from the time that the Lord Jesus told this story, such aspirations are still are still alive in the hearts of people all around the planet. The rebuilding of societies to make real what people seek in terms of more humane and better living conditions and relationships is a continuning process. I am taking the optimistic view that humanity is moving towards more humanization or divinization. The Spirit of God works in history to bring humanity to the heavenly banquet. The Good Shepherd is leading us toward fresh and green pastures (responsorial psalm).

The King has prepared the banquet and He has extended his invitation to all, including the poor, the outcast, and the rejected. The least, the lost, and the last will find that places are prepared for them. We do need to give shift our priorities and give our response. Our farm and business take second place to the business of obeying the king. The business of the Kingdom takes first place. We seek first the kingdom and all the rest will follow.

In addition to taking the effort to shift our priorities, we also have to take the effort to wear the proper garment. In another setting, St. Paul speaks of the kind of garment that befits a follower of Jesus, “So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield” (Eph.6:16).

The invitation has been sent out. It has an RSVP. The King is waiting for your response. You do not have to mail it, or phone it in, or send a text message. All you need to do is get down on your knees and say, “Yes, Lord, I come to do your will.”