by Father William R. Dulaney
“DO YOU want the good news or the bad news first?’
Guaranteed to get our attention, likely to unnerve us, this question suggests our joy at glad tidings may be overshadowed by upsetting news we’d rather not hear.
Unless we’re careful, bad news can so discourage us that we forget to appreciate the blessings that have come our way.
We need to remember this as we listen to today’s Scriptures; while they abound with good news and offer us hope, they might frighten us as they present warnings and challenges we may not want, but need to hear and take seriously.
Isaiah predicts the Lord of Hosts will provide a feast of rich food and choice wines. This meal is the eternal, heavenly banquet, the gathering of those who have entered into God’s presence to celebrate their victory over suffering and death.
God invited everyone to share in this repast, to be part of the grateful multitude who will proclaim, “Behold our God. This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us.”
All Are Welcome
Jesus begins the Gospel parable by saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” That this king dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests, then bids them invite into the banquet hall whomever they find, confirms what Isaiah foretold: because the Lord of Hosts wants everyone ever born to experience the happiness and peace that await them in heaven, He never stops inviting people to join Him.
The response to the king’s invitation was disappointing. Some invited guests refused or ignored the invitation; others mistreated and killed the king’s messenger. One man came to the banquet improperly dressed and was banished. For one reason or another, many of those invited, by their own choice, never enjoyed the king’s hospitality or shared his bounty.
Unfortunately, what happened in the parable of the wedding feast occurs in real life. Deliberately or unintentionally, we reject or disregard Our Lord’s invitation to follow Him, abide by His teaching, and work toward our salvation.
Today’s Gospel indicates the regrettable consequences of such choices, warns us to be careful, and prompts us to ask some challenging questions:
• “The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.” Have I become indifferent or complacent in my relationship with the Lord? Is my spiritual and moral life what it should be? When I do what I should are my motives genuine?
• “The king saw a man not dressed in a wedding garment.” Do I answer the Lord’s call with generosity and willingness? Do I realize my response to God’s call is useless if it doesn’t translate into action, make a difference in the way I live and help me to get to heaven?
• In Philippians, Paul asserts we can answer God’s call as we should. He reminds us that the Lord always supported him in his trials and tribulations and assures us the Lord will give us what we need to witness to Him and serve Him well.
We shouldn’t see the warnings and challenges in today’s liturgy as bad news. They are reminders that we shouldn’t refuse or ignore Jesus’ call nor should we let the opportunities to give of ourselves to build up the Body of Christ and make the world a better place pass us by.
The rewards promised in today’s readings leave no doubt that any inconveniences experienced or sacrifices made are well worth the effort.[divider] Readings for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14[hr] Father William R. Dulaney is a parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great parish, Bellerose.