Isaiah 25:6 – 10, Gospel Matthew 22: 1 – 14
A friend of mine did his doctoral dissertation on food in the Bible. He pointed out that from Genesis to Revelation significant moments and events often times involve food. With Adam and Eve it was the forbidden fruit, for Moses it was the Passover Meal as well as the manna and quail in the desert, and for Elijah it was the widow of Zarephath. In the Gospels there is the wedding feast of Cana, the multiplication of the loaves and fish, and the Last Supper. The book of Revelation ends with the description of the Heavenly Jerusalem in all its’ splendor, including the magnificent trees of life who each month produce fruit and whose leaves serve as medicine. There are many more instances of food in the Bible, but the point is made with above examples that they play a significant part in the stories, prophecies and teachings in the Bible.
Two of the readings for this weekend are about banquets. The first reading from Isaiah speaks of a holy mountain on which the hand of the Lord Rests. It begins by announcing that God will provide for his people, and food tops the list of what God will provide. Not just any food but food described with beautiful adjectives such as, rich, choice, juicy, and pure. In other words, it is the best food one can hope for and God will provide this for His people. With this banquet comes news that the Lord will destroy death and wipe away tears. This is a banquet of life for the body and the soul. Tthe attendees at this banquet are those who looked to the Lord for their salvation. The message is that if you are faithful to the Lord, he has great things planned for you.
In the Gospel we have a parable in which Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who is having a wedding feast for his son. The king in the parable is dismayed when the invitees don’t show up. He sends the invitation to a broader group and they too decline the invitation, some with very lame excuses, and none of them come. Finally he sends word out to anyone to come, and they do come, both the good and the bad. It seems like the parable is now going to have a happy ending, instead we hear of the guest who arrived without the proper garment. The king has him cast out. Jesus ends the parable with the verse, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
One way of looking at the meaning of these readings is to ask ourselves the questions, “Do we want to be on the Lord’s holy mountain?” “Do we want to be at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.” We have already received the invitation, but being invited doesn’t mean that we have been chosen. What must we do to be chosen? Two simple answers come to us in the readings. The first is that since we have heard about the Lord and accepted him through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, we must look to him for salvation. The second is that in accepting the invitation to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, we are to be in constant preparation for the day of the Feast, always wearing the garment of faithfulness as our wedding garment.
Banquets are occasions that are meant to be enjoyed and the Heavenly banquet is no different. The readings remind us to the joy we have to look forward to as we prepare ourselves for this eternal banquet with the Lord.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.