28th Sunday A: Jesus was not averse to celebrations

Jesus was not averse to celebrations

His opponents criticized him as a ‘good time guy’, a glutton and a wine drinker. They did not like the company he dined in: sinners and outcasts. He did not always wait to be invited either. He asked himself to the house of Zacchaeus, the chief tax-collector in Jericho. The presence of Jesus at one of these dinners was a reconciling presence. Jesus said ‘salvation has come to this house’ when he went in to dine with the sinner Zacchaeus.

Most people look forward to receiving a wedding invitation from a close relative or friend. The same does not appear to be true of this wedding. The guests did not even bother to make polite excuses. They insulted the king and his family and went further by killing his messengers.

Royal marriages often sealed political and diplomatic alliances. They were instruments of foreign policy helping to bring reconciliation and unity between those who had been enemies before. This marriage should be seen in the same way. The king seems to have issued the invitation three times. He has invited the guests, sent his servants to tell them all is prepared and then sent them out again with a list of the delicacies they will enjoy. The king has been patient and gracious. He invites his guests to share in this feast of reconciliation and unity. They are indifferent to this invitation and refuse to come.

The king then sent out more messengers to people who were willing to come. They also seem to have understood the purpose of the feast as they all put on their wedding garment; all except one man. Immediately on entering the banquet the king saw this individual. Calling him “friend” he asked him why he was there. It is the same question Jesus asks Judas when they come to arrest Him on the night of the agony: “Friend, why are you here?” Two banquets are brought together, the banquet of the Last Supper, the Passover of the Son which brings reconciliation between humanity and God, and the Eucharistic Banquet offered to all to promote reconciliation and to strengthen unity among the members of God’s family.

Some see it as a proclamation that the Jews refused to come to the new wedding banquet of Jesus and so Gentiles instead have been invited to this divine banquet of reconciliation and unity. Others see this story as a warning to those members of the Church who fail to be properly clothed in supernatural grace and instead choose to live in sin.  Because of this indifference to God’s grace, they will not be able to participate in the eternal heavenly banquet.

The marriage supper of the Lamb is a feast of reconciliation and unity; those who share in it must also be committed to be reconciled to God and be in unity with the same faith of their Catholic brothers and sisters. The guest who has not bothered to change, is concentrating on receiving, and has forgotten that this feast is not just about eating or benefiting from hospitality. Sharing in this banquet is about being committed to our Lord and His teachings in unity within our Catholic family.  The heavenly Bridegroom inaugurates this marriage supper on the cross, which will be consummated in the heavenly wedding banquet, of which our Eucharist is a sign and anticipation.

Fr. Tom