Ordinary Time 28, Year A
- You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes (Ps. 23:5)
The kingdom of heaven, teaches Jesus, may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. This makes me think of salvation in terms of communion.
Participation in the “feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines,” spells deliverance from hunger and thirst. Permanence in the Son of Man that results from eating his flesh, which is real food, and drinking his blood, which is real drink, means the destruction of death and, hence, liberation from it (cf. Jn. 6:55-56). Living in the house of the Lord, which makes seeing him possible, brings joy and gladness, for his real presence is an assurance of salvation (cf. Jn. 16:22).
Saved and blessed indeed, therefore, are those who are invited to the feast of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! In intimate communion with Lord in such a way that they genuinely become persons of prayer, partakers of the Lord’s feast become capable of everything—as St. Vincent would put it—and may say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”
Alas, not all those who are invited to the feast accept the invitation. They include those who, though invited first, take the invitation for granted and presume too much on their position of being especially chosen. Righteous in their own eyes and sufficient unto themselves, they are not persuaded by the host’s urgent reminders.
Some, unmindful of the vicissitudes of life and the ups and downs of economic fortunes, ignore the invitation and go their prideful way, “one to his farm, another to his business.” They relentlessly go after profit and do not realize that the love of money is the root of all evil; they rely in “so uncertain thing as wealth” and do not put their “trust in the God who provides us richly with all things for our enjoyment” (cf. 1 Tim. 6: 10, 17). They thus show contempt for the king and his son.
Others are more than just contemptuous. They shoot the king’s messengers and declare in no uncertain terms their unwillingness to listen to the Lord’s instruction and their preference of pleasant illusions over unsettling prophetic visions (cf. Is. 30:9-10). The rebellious, we are taught, only bring upon themselves punishment and destruction.
But those guests too who fill the hall—people from the streets, both good and bad, who take the place of the first invitees and make up the congregation of the lowly and poor—could end up as unworthy as those who turned down the invitation. All are welcome, no doubt, but everyone is expected to come in with the wedding garment of repentance that the arrival of the kingdom of heaven requires and which makes for one having eyes and a heart directed to the least of the Son of Man’s brothers and sisters (cf. Mt. 3:2; 4:17; 25:31-46). And although one may not know here and now to whom exactly he or she is doing a work of mercy, in the end, when the kingdom of heaven is fully established, to such one will be clearly revealed, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Here and now, then, I am offered the grace to remain in communion and, heeding Moses and the Prophets, to attend to poor Lazarus at the gate (Lk. 16:19-31). Whether I am numbered among the blessed and given the final welcome by the King or I am included among the accursed and commanded to depart from the King into eternal fire—or, in the words of the parable of the wedding feast, “into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”—will depend on whether I partake here and now of communion or of division. In division and alienation—the very meaning of eating and drinking without recognizing the body of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:29)—is condemnation, while in communion and solidarity is salvation.