Deacon Cornell's Homily


Isaiah 25:6-10
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14


October 14-15, 2017, Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

So what do you most vividly remember about today's reading? I am going to go out on a limb and say that for most of us, the thing that really jumped out at us was how unfair it was for the king to throw out the guest who was not wearing the proper garments. So let's get that out of the way before we try to see the amazing promise of God's blessings that is the main point of all four of these readings.

A few weeks ago I talked about the importance of context when we are trying to understand any part of script and then apply it to our lives. I re-iterate that advice. With the Gospels there is another consideration that, for most of us, we need to rely on scripture scholars to help us with. There are 3 layers of writing going on in the Gospels. The bottom layer is the historical things that Jesus said and did while here on earth; the second layer is the interpretation of what Jesus said and did as seen back through the lens of the early Christian community's knowledge that Jesus rose from the dead. As Jesus warned the disciples several times, they would not understand what he said or did or meant until he had suffered, died and was risen from the dead. The third layer is what the evangelist is saying to his immediate community. One of the ways we can pick out the top layer stuff is when it refers to things that happened after Jesus life time. For example, when the story says, "The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. " most scripture scholars understand this to be Matthew referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. Likewise some of the aspects of the conflict between the leaders and Jesus, such as the parents of the man blind from birth being afraid they would be thrown out of the synagogue for being followers of Jesus was something that only happened after the destruction of the temple, and not in Jesus lifetime.

But what about the poor guest who didn't have the proper garment? Certainly the action of the king does not fit the fundamental context of the bible that reveals that God is love, nor does it reflect any aspect of Jesus' life. Some people try to explain it away by saying the garments were provided by the king but there is no evidence that this was the case. So we come down to two things, I would suggest: the first is that this is a story. It is a not a news report Jesus is giving. And second, as I have said a million times, Jesus loves exaggeration, hyperbole. Remember the time he said it would be better to cut off your hand or gouge out your eyes than to lead someone into sin. Or the camel going through the eye of a needle? The point Jesus is making is that it is not enough to be invited into this banquet that God has prepared for us; we have to respond by living in a way that demonstrates that we understand the value of this wonderful gift, and therefore we clothe ourselves in Christ.

So much for the wedding garment malfunction. These readings are full of joy, and the promise of God's abundant graciousness towards us. Do you remember the most sumptuous, fun, joyful feast that you have ever experienced? I can think of at least half a dozen that qualify. Well, that pales in comparison to what God has in mind for us and for all creation. From all eternity God has dreamed this world to be a paradise filled with every good thing. That is what the wedding banquet stands for throughout the bible. That is what we pray for in the Our Father when we pray that the Father's kingdom come here on earth, that the Father's will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven. More than just dreaming that this world is to be a paradise, God has promised that despite the human race's determined attempt to ruin that banquet or ignore it, God's word, God's dream will prevail. And we are invited, no matter how rich or poor, or good or sinful, no matter how many times we have ignored or turned down the invitation, we are invited. No, we are more than invited; from the prophets to the apostles and most dramatically with his own Son, God has sent his servants out to the corners of the earth to bring us in. We called to climb that mountain that rises above the wars, the violence, the oppression, the exploitation, the sickness and yes, even death. But as the story told, it is not enough to be invited, to be gathered. We have to respond freely; we have to put on Christ so that we live our lives as if Christ were living them. We have to do this for two reasons: first we have to do it because we cannot partake of this sumptuous feast God as spread before us in the sight of our foes unless we do. Second we have to do that so that we can draw others in to the feast as well. This feast is not a place or a party; it is a metaphor for entering into the life of the Trinity. It is partipating fully in that divine, eternal loving relationship. As with any loving relationship, both parties have to enter fully to enjoy the relationship.

This my dear people is the good news, the gospel that I will urge you to go forth and proclaim at the end of mass. This why we are called to become disciples in mission. So let us all accept the invitation, put on Christ as our banquet garment, and then go out into the streets and bring in whoever we meet. See you back here, at the feast.

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