Oct. 15, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Phil 4:12-14, 19-20
Mt 22:1-10 (Alternate)
This Sunday's scripture is not very helpful if you're trying to stay on a diet.
Again and again, we hear about extravagant dining -- "rich food and choice wines" in Isaiah; a full table and an overflowing cup in the psalm; a rich wedding feast in the Gospel from Matthew.
But this Sunday's readings are not about programming the new season of the Food Network or planning next month's Thanksgiving spread. It is, in fact, a reminder of how abundantly God loves us. His generosity is a veritable smorgasbord of love, loyalty, steadfastness, and mercy. The scripture gives us these very tangible representations of God's faithfulness and goodness -- so real, we can almost taste them -- to remind us of something we might easily forget. To paraphrase another familiar passage: we taste and see the goodness of the Lord (Ps 34:8).
One prevailing question of the week is: Do we understand what he does for us? He extends an invitation to his feast. Are we willing to say "Yes?" Even when we find ourselves overwhelmed by moments of anxiety and desperation, God invites us to be sated -- filled with reassurance, courage, and hope.
Consider St. Paul's letter. Writing from prison, Paul sends this final message to the Philippians -- words that are fundamentally a testament of faith.
"I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me."
Put another way -- in the words of the angel who spoke so reassuringly to a humble unwed mother in Galilee -- "Nothing is impossible with God" (Lk 1:37).
We belong to The One who dwells in possibility and who never abandons us.
We are beloved by the Father, who invites us to share his feast -- to dine at his table.
But first, we need to be open to the invitation.
In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus offers a bold challenge to the priests and elders, and to all of us. It is the challenge to be properly prepared, willing to receive what God has made ready for us.
And the jarring twist in the end is about much more than wearing the right clothes. It is about having the right heart, a heart that is full of gratitude and open to grace.
Those familiar words of the 23rd Psalm we hear take on new meaning this Sunday: "You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. " God pours out his redeeming love, and we are filled beyond measure. His table is set with mercy, with generosity, with tenderness. He gives us more than we ask for, and more than we deserve.
Above all else, of course, he has given us his son.
He offers that gift again and again in the Eucharist -- the ultimate banquet, the definitive feast.
In many ways, it's fitting that we encounter these readings during a time when autumn will soon give way to winter, and many around the country will enter the coldest, hardest season. But the scripture this week reminds us of this uplifting truth: no matter what comes, what the forecast might be, we can do all things "in him who strengthens us."
Christ is our strength. The Eucharist is our food. And God's love is the bounty that sustains us.
A lot of us need to hear that -- people who hunger for the basic necessities of life, but also those who yearn for love and understanding, compassion and hope.
The king has set out a feast and he wants us there. Who could refuse?
The message is clear: come to the feast! Come with gratitude and a ready heart. Pull up a chair. Savor what God offers, treasure what he has put before us.
In the end, no one will leave God's table hungry.