FIRST READING Isaiah 25:6-10a
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.
SECOND READING Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Brothers and sisters: I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
GOSPEL Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Banquets and parties—and yet the invited don’t show up. Today’s readings are about God’s invitation to you and to me. Will we answer his invitation?
The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah. The Prophet tells us that God will provide a banquet for all peoples. Everyone is invited. God wants all to be saved. God will destroy death forever. All will rejoice that God has saved us.
This is a strong message because so many in our world do not want salvation for everyone nor even do many people want good things for everyone. There is enormous competition in our world—and so many, perhaps even ourselves, want to be ahead of others. Such desires destroy our humanity. We can strive to be the very best person that we can be—but never in competition with another. We can strive to serve others to the best of our ability—but not by competing with others. God wants us all to be saved and that should always be our prayer for our sisters and brothers. May they be the person that God has created them to be: and if they are better than we, so be it.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Philippians. Here Saint Paul is teaching us: “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.” The challenge is for us to live the same way. Whether we have power and might and money or whether we have nothing, we must know how to live for God’s glory and not for our own purposes.
Today’s Gospel from Saint Matthew brings us back to banquets! Now the King, God Himself, is giving a banquet and those invited don’t come to the banquet. Jesus uses this image as an image of the Kingdom of God. We are all invited! Are we going to respond to the invitation of Jesus? God wants us. God also invites us to live in a way given to us by Jesus Himself. So many people today no longer believe that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is Savior.
When we acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, God and Savior, then we can understand how important it is to respond to His invitation and to live as He has shown us: love for all others, sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of others, trying to give our lives completely to the Lord through the service of others.
Just as in today’s Gospel, God will not force us. Jesus accepts our freedom to reject Him and His invitation to the banquet of the Kingdom. Even though Jesus is God and Lord, He will never compel us against our own choices. So we are left in the end with our own choice: I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to do everything right. I can make mistakes.
At the center of my heart there is only question: Am I seeking to follow the Lord Jesus?
Your brother in the Lord,