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COME: EVERYTHING IS PREPARED! A reflection for the 28 Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year A.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 11 Oct 2020

                Readings: Is 25:6-10; Phil 4:12-14,19-20; Mtt 22:1-14

    The readings of this Sunday place visible interests on banquets and wedding feasts. Feasts, "banquets," or parties jolt our minds to the grandeur and shared joy. It is always a good thing to celebrate and share joy because pure gladness or happiness is a marker of God's presence.

    Our readings do not just say, banquet, wine, or food. The proclamation has grand qualifications. "A banquet of rich food, of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines." The gospel throws more excellent lights on Isaiah's prophecy, linking the majestic banquet joy with the "kingdom of heaven," where gladness is key. We have here, the extended or "messianic" fulfillment of prophecy, where God's call animates the delight and joy in those who answer. The gospel goes ahead to name to declare the banquet convener as saying, "I have my banquet all prepared; everything is ready: Come to the wedding" (Mt 22:4). The best is on the table! It is the same hope and longing that we joined in singing in today's psalm: "You prepared a banquet for me, and my cup is overflowing"!

   We must have been quick to notice the bad faith of those whom their king invites for his son's wedding. How the invitees shame their king, decline his invitation, stuck to their businesses, and showed their arrogance in attacking and killing their king's son. Who do we see in today's gospel's parable? Do we see the people of Israel and their leaders who reject Jesus' invitation? Last Sunday's reading showed up Israel as the people of God. In this Sunday's parable, Jesus addresses the "chief priest and elders of Israel about their king. But that is not all: This Sunday's parable is also pointing beyond the Israelites to "everyone" as included in those whom God has invited to the banquet of God's kingdom (Mt 22:9).

   The example of Paul's letter to the Philippians is our best example for our full inclusion into God's plan of goodness. Indeed, as Paul writes, "God fulfills all our needs in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:19). That explains that no one is excluded, but all are included, cherished, invited, and welcome. Still, we have the old problem of unwillingness, coldness, and indifference. We have the self-demeaning attitudes of finding and making excuses. Education, liberty, personal comfort, and access to luxury are here. Yet they remain quite incapable of springing the fulness of joy. The happiness of friendship with God is the joy that the world does not have or give. Most times, the worldly-world does not even understand genuine joy or happiness.

  May we leave aside our selfish excuses? Shall we cherish the invitation of God welcoming us to a shared joy, "the wedding feast?"  God calls it in Christ, the bridegroom of our redeemed life. Check the alternatives that we often chose in place of God's love. Do I go off to my "farm," or my "business," sowing seeds that can never grow unless God brings the grace?  God owns the rain and the sun that brings us fruitfulness. Therefore, God alone is the happiness that satisfies our deepest hunger. The banquet of God's kingdom is for all peoples without exception. Instead of making excuses, showing indifference, or lack of attention to Christ that denies us our wedding garments, let us strive to be ready.

  There can be no authentic response to Christ that refuses discipline or the moral life. Some attitudes and lifestyles bring shame and ridicule to who we are, and the faith we profess as Christians. Christian discipline is our "wedding garment." It means that the worth of our Christian-life commitment showcases itself, its strength, content, or emptiness in the quality of our day to life. Against whatever excuses: Do you have the "wedding garment"?


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