Cycle A 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Is. 25:6-10; Phil. 4:10-14, 19-20; Mt. 22:1-14

Once a king had invited his guests for a feast, but he did not tell them the exact date and time. He told them that they must wash, and anoint, and clothe themselves that they might be ready when the summons came. The wise prepared themselves at once, and took their places waiting at the palace door, for they believed that in a palace a feast could be prepared so quickly that there would be no warning. The foolish thought that it would take a long time to make the necessary preparations and that they would have plenty of time. So they went, the mason to his lime, the potter to his clay, smith to his furnace and went on with their work. Then suddenly the summons to the feast came without any warning. The wise were ready to sit down, and the king rejoiced over them, and they ate and drank. But those who had not arrayed themselves in their wedding garments had to stand outside, sad and hungry, and look on the joy that they had lost.

This story tells of the duty of preparedness for the summons of God, and the garments stand for the preparation that must be made. Today's readings from the Book of Isaiah, [Is. 25:5-10] the Letter of Paul to the Philippians [Phil. 4:10-14, 19-20] and the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 22:1-14] speak of an invitation to the Great Feast.

It was Jewish custom that when the invitations were sent out for a great feast the time was not stated; and when everything was ready the servants were sent out with a final summons to tell the guests to come. So the king in the parable had long ago sent out his invitation; but it was not till everything was prepared that the final summons was issued – and insultingly refused.

This parable has many meanings. First of all, Jesus refers to the Jews who did not accept the invitation of God. Ages ago they had been invited to be the chosen people of God; yet they had time and again refused to accept the messengers sent by God. The final summons came from Jesus to leave their unjust ways and enter into the Kingdom of God. When this invitation was rejected, the invitation of God went to the highways and byways.

The parable also speaks of the consequences of rejecting the invitation. The people of Israel had experienced the tragic consequences of rejecting the ways of God. The remnants of those bitter experiences were remained with that generation too. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian monarchs, Tiglath-Pilser and Shalmaneser. In 722BC, nearly twenty years after the initial deportations, the ruling city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Samaria, was finally taken by Saragon. In about 587 BBC again they were captivated by the Babylonians. These were terrible experiences of the Israelites, and they had been passed on to the succeeding generations. Before Mathew composed his Gospel the Roman armies had destroyed Jerusalem. Even today the violent nature and man-made disasters remind us constantly about the consequences of rejecting the invitation of God.

As Jesus referred to his contemporaries. Through this parable the church today points out to its members who get drowned in the daily hustle of life, and lose priorities. The things that made men deaf to the invitation of the king were not necessarily bad in themselves. One man went to his estate; the business. They went off on the excellent task of efficiently administering their business life. It is easy for a man to be so busy with the things of time that he forgets the things of eternity, to be so preoccupied with the things which are seen that he forgets the things which are unseen. The tragedy of life is that it is so often the second bests which shut out the best, that it is things which are good in themselves which shuts out the things that are supreme.

A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They chuckled and agreed that it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. "Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as God, family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work. The sand signifies the remaining "small stuff" and material possessions.

If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.

Pay attention to the things in life that are critical to your life. Take care of the rocks first – things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.

What are the priorities at our house? We are early for the game but late to the worship. We see to it that our children do their homework but never check to seek if Bible lessons are completed. We will not let them miss school even though they do not want to attend, but we cater to their whims and let them miss Bible Class. We know the names of their school teachers, but cannot call the names of the Bible Class teachers at church. We will serve as room mother or president of the PTA at school, but what about helping with a function in the Bible Class! They see us go to work even though we do not feel well but stay at home from church under the same circumstances. They see us look at and study their school work but never pay any attention at all to their handwork brought home from Bible Class. Yes, with such situations prevailing, what priorities are established in the hearts of our children! (Wendell Winkler).

The parable reminds us that in the last analysis that God's invitation is the invitation of grace. It is true that the door is open to all men, but when they come they must bring a life which seeks to fit the love which has been given to them. Grace is not only a gift; it is a grave responsibility. So, the moment we accept the invitation, we accept the inevitable responsibility and commitment to change ourselves. Hence, when we go to the house of God let us put on the garment of humble penitence, the garment of faith and the garment of reverence. So that when the king comes to see his guests we will prove ourselves worthy of the invitation extended to us.