28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Readings: Is 25:6-10 / Ps 23:1-3, 3-4, 5.6 / Phil 4:12-14; 119-20/
For the past three Sundays, we have been reading and reflecting on several parables about the kingdom. This Sunday another parable is presented to us as our point for reflection—the parable of the wedding banquet.
The wedding banquet is symbolic of the heavenly banquet of God’s kingdom. The Lord has invited all nations to an eternal banquet. First he invited his chosen people Israel. But since they turned down the invitation, all people down the highway—meaning the pagans—were invited.
The parable shows us 3 kinds of guests. There were the absentee guests who initially accepted the invitation, but when the time came to honor the invitation, they drew back. There were the guests without wedding garments, who attended the feast but did not take the trouble to prepare adequately for it, as the occasion deserves. And there were the guests with the wedding garments who made the necessary preparations to present themselves fit for the banquet.
Everything was ready, but when the time came for the feast to begin, none of the invited guests were present. It’s not that those invited refused to come. They merely had more important things to do and would come later. The banquet was not high in their priority list. In their view, the king’s wedding banquet could wait a while; whereas, in the king’s view, this was a party that could not wait. In other words, Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of God is a matter of urgency and top priority; it demands our response here and now, and not at some other time and place. The banquet of God’s kingdom is ready, the invitations courtesy of Jesus are sent. The Lord is waiting for your answer, NOW!
The scary thing about the absentee guests is that they were not sinners. They were not generally engaging in sinful activities. One went to his farm, another to his business. These are noble occupations. Sometimes what keep us away from the joy of the kingdom is not sin but our preoccupations with worldly affairs. To be serious with our job is a good thing, but when your job keeps you away from the banquet of God’s kingdom, job becomes a danger.
People could be so busy setting up their own banquets where they are the hosts—not God. A lot of people believe that happiness can very well be found not so much at the banquet of God but in their own banquets. They forget that they are made for God and apart from God, the most lavish human banquet always has a taste of ashes.
On the guests without wedding garments, the point of the parable is: the invitation is to all. The party is free for all. Yet, anyone who decides to attend has the responsibility to present himself/herself fit for the king’s company. Those of us on the way to the kingdom must acquire the moral and spiritual character consonant with life in the kingdom.
The readings invite us once again to come to the Lord’s banquet. We are all welcome as his beloved guests. But at the same time the parable warns us to take God’s grace and invitation for granted but to clean ourselves up and become the most beautiful guest that we can be in God’s sight.
Remember that the Lord continues to send out invitations. Do come and be the most beautiful guest in His sight!