October 15, 2023
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Readings for Today
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.” Matthew 22:1–3
Do you refuse to come? Jesus spoke this parable to the chief priests and elders of the people because, even though they gave the impression to others that they were true followers of the will of God, they were, in fact, among those who refused to come to the wedding feast of the Lamb of God. The chief priests and elders of the people were masters at portraying themselves as something they were not. They knew how to look good in the eyes of the people, how to avoid public criticism, and how to appear as holy men. But they were none of the above. Inside they were hypocrites, liars and murderers.
In this parable, three invitations are sent forth. The first two are given to the invited guests. Though these “invited guests” refer especially to the people of Israel who were raised in the faith handed down from Moses and the prophets, we should also see in it those who have been raised within the Christian faith today. After the first invitation, those invited refused to come. After the second invitation, some who were invited reacted with indifference, while others reacted with hostility. These responses are common today.
When Jesus sends forth His invitation to share in His wedding banquet today, there are many different responses. Some are indifferent to our Lord. These are those who are so consumed with worldly endeavors that they give little time and attention to God. For them, the practice of the faith, such as daily prayer, attendance at Mass and ongoing works of charity, is not important. Making money, obtaining material possessions, indulging in entertainment and other secular pursuits are far more the focus of their time and energy. Others, like the chief priests and elders, are good at playing the part and acting as if they are faithful followers, but they are actually hostile to the will of God. They are concerned only about their appearance and not about the reality of their souls. If they are challenged in any way, they respond with anger and attack. They are not open to the truth of the Gospel and remain self-justified by attacking anything or anyone who dares to call into question the direction they have taken in life.
When the third invitation was sent forth to all people, some responded. How completely do you respond to Jesus’ invitation? To answer that question properly, we must “read” the invitation and know what we are invited to participate in. The invitation given to us is an invitation to share in the wedding feast of the Son of God. But to attend that banquet, we must be clothed in the garment of charity. Charity is the form of love that is sacrificial, selfless, and total. This form of love begins by making God the center of our lives and concludes by making His will the sole purpose of our lives. True charity will have the effect of purging all selfishness from our lives. This is why some were hostile to the invitation. When God invites us to a life of charity, we will be faced with a need to change. For some, this is very difficult. They react either with indifference or become defensive and lash out in hostility so as to protect the life of sin they have chosen.
The parable concludes with one of the invited guests being cast “into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” because he doesn’t have on a proper wedding garment. But this wedding garment is a symbol of true charity that flows from an authentic worship of God.
Reflect, today, upon how charitable you are toward others, for that will determine whether you are fit to share in the banquet of the Lord. True charity always seeks to lavish the greatest good upon others. It seeks to do everything necessary to help others grow in love of God. True charity never leads a person to gaze upon themselves. It is always outwardly focused and selfless in its choices. As you reflect upon your charity, or lack thereof, be open to the purifying invitation from Jesus and do not react in hostility. Welcome His invitation to change and allow your wholehearted worship of Him to transform you into a gift of love for others.
Lord of perfect charity, You have invited all people to share in the glorious banquet of Heaven. The only requirement is that we allow all sin and selfishness to be purged from our lives so that we are covered with the garment of charity. I accept Your invitation this day, dear Lord, and commit myself to the purifying fires of Your perfect love. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday