11th October, 2020

Tables set for a wedding reception

Homily for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Yesterday I thought to myself that the parable we just heard in today’s gospel might seem a bit strange to us because it doesn’t fit the present situation in which we live. I think that if today Jesus wanted to use a parable about the wedding banquet, he would have to update it a bit and change at least a few details in it. He would definitely say that the wedding ceremony was attended by no more than 15 people and that all guests kept social distance, observing all the rules of safety and hygiene. But he surely wouldn’t say that the wedding hall was filled with guests, so as not to encourage us to do similar things.

Jesus’ parable is very simple in its meaning. The king who organizes the wedding feast is God himself; the bridegroom is Jesus Christ, and those who have not responded but even ignored the invitation are those who reject Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God. And finally, all the people called from the streets are us – that is each one of us.

Actually, at this point we might finish our meditation on this Sunday gospel. But there is a second part in that parable that has a very surprising ending. There was a man at a wedding feast who wasn’t dressed in a wedding garment. He probably got there by accident and none of the guests recognized him. However, as we heard, nothing escaped the king’s attention. “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?”

This wedding garment – mentioned by the king in today’s parable – reminds us of the sacrament of baptism. During the ceremony of every baptism there is a special moment when the parents or godparents put a white garment on their child. At the same time, the priest says the following words that explain this very particular moment of the ceremony: Dear child, you have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example to bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.

This white garment – in a very simple way – helps us to understand what had happened in each of us during this extraordinary rite, because it is a beautiful symbol of our Christian dignity and the purity of our heart. Today we can ask ourselves a very simple and basic question. Do I still remember that white garment I received on the day of my baptism? What do I do to keep it clean and unstained? But this white garment also reminds us of our responsibility as parents or godparents. So today we can ask some other questions: What kind of parent or godparent am I? What do I do to be a good guide for others on the path of faith, because that is my role and that is my mission.? Do I help build a relationship with God through my words and example? Do I remember that the sacrament of reconciliation, or confession, is the moment of my purification, in which we can receive from God a new life, a new chance and forgiveness?

God wants to tell us today that our positive response to this extraordinary invitation and then taking part in this wonderful feast is extremely important. But for the King – who is God Himself – it is just as important how we are dressed; that is, what our thoughts and desires are when we come here to meet him in our prayer of worship. Do we bring to this extraordinary meeting: our peace, gratitude and kindness or our anger, frustration and jealousy? What feelings do we bring in our hearts and what do we think about when we come to church or when we meet God in private prayers.

Jesus Christ, we thank you for inviting us to your feast, which is every Holy Mass. In each mass that we attend, we can hear words that we know by heart: “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb or – in other words – blessed are those invited to the feast or wedding” Each of us wants to respond to this invitation with great joy because we miss you very much especially now in these uncertain times we live in. As you well know, some of us are unable to attend mass because of our anxiety and fear, but that does not mean that we decline your invitation. Some of our brothers and sisters receive spiritual communion or just watch broadcasts of the holy mass. Please embrace us all with your grace. Help us to keep our wedding garment always clean and bright, because only in this way we can give you true glory and honor, and only in this way we can achieve the true and full joy of eternal life. Amen!

Fr Gregory