Isaiah 25:6 – 10 Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 Matthew 22: 1 – 14
The reading from Isaiah begins with the verse; “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines…..” The reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Phillipians ends with the verse; ”My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with this glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Near the beginning of the Gospel Jesus has the King saying in the parable; “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” Simply put these readings remind us that God will provide.
Isaiah was a prophet during a time of great moral and political upheaval in Israel. The Israelites had wandered from God and taken accepted idols and immoral behavior as the norm. Assyria and her allies were attacking and succeeded in occupying much of Judah. It seemed that only the city of Jerusalem was able to withstand the attacks. Isaiah was the prophet who succeeded in drawing the king and the people of Israel back to God. The portion of Isaiah that we hear today come from a section of his prophecies sometimes called “The Apocalypse of Isaiah.” He acknowledges the failures of Israel and tells them to get on board with God’s plan. That is to repent for God has something very beautiful prepared. The banquet Isaiah describes gives an image of God providing for them here, not just in food but in numerous ways that will give them strength and victory. It also points to what God has prepared for them, and for us, when our lives here come to an end. But for the faithful life here might come to an end, but life continues in a changed way at the heavenly banquet. God will provide for us.
In the brief passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians Paul acknowledges that his life contains times of humility and wanting, as well as times of plenty. He tells the Philippians that these conditions are no longer matter to him, and should not matter to them. He ends by expressing this prayer, “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. “ Paul learned that God will provide, and shares this as an instruction to the Philippians and to us.
In the Gospel Jesus tells the parable of a King who desires to provide a great banquet in honor of his son’s wedding. What an honor it is to be invited by the king to his palace for a banquet. Who would think of declining such an invite? In this parable it appears that many did turn down the invitation, but this did not deter the king from providing a great feast to many people. He sends out men to the highways and by-ways to invite anyone, whether citizens of his Kingdom or not. The kings desire was to provide the people with a memorable, great feast.
This parable can be seen as a key in understanding both Isaiah and St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Even though the desire to hold a banquet, and to provide is given, we cannot be forced to accept the invitation. We always have the freedom to send our regrets. We would benefit by taking on the humility of St. Paul and acknowledging that God will provide for us, even when we seem to be wanting, and ultimately he will provide for us at the Heavenly Banquet. Let’s make the point to accept these invitations and trust both here and in eternity that God will provide.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.