Reflection for 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time
We can find three levels of meaning in the parables that Jesus taught. This is a familiar story and more than likely, we would have no problems retelling it. The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son…. Various people are invited, who choose not to come…and the king replaces them…and then we have what might seem like an odd ending. 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…” Thus, we have the literal meaning, which is basically the story as told.
Next, we ask ourselves: What is the wedding feast? Who are the invited guests that did not come? Who are the guests that came off the streets? Who is the king? What about the improperly dressed person? The king is God. The wedding feast is the kingdom of God. The invited guests are the Israelites. God made a covenant with them, but many chose not accept Jesus Christ and His salvation. The replacement guests are those who converted / repented, i.e. sinners…Gentiles.
But how about the guest without the proper garment on? When you are in the presence of a king, you are supposed to be properly dressed. The wedding garment, Scripture scholars tell us stands for our service, especially to the least of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we enter the kingdom of God, we must be wearing a wedding garment of love.
The first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah describes the kingdom of God. 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…The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face…. Isaiah’s description of the restoration of Israel gives us an example of the Heavenly Banquet.
God has given us the gift of free will, in which we can freely choose or refuse the invitation to the Heavenly Banquet, by how we live our life on earth – thoughts, words and actions in the love of God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. The choice is ours.
This gospel is not the only time Jesus spoke about entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Think of Mt25:34-36: Come you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.
Let us serve as Jesus taught us to serve…in humility and love.
May God bless us all always!