Our Invitation to the Banquet

10-15-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

In our schools across the country, the classrooms tend to have over 20 or 25 students, often as many as 35. As a result of these larger census issues, parents are unable to invite an entire classroom to their child's birthday party. Some decisions and choices have to be made by the parents. Some of the youngsters will receive invitations while others will not. Most parents prudently caution their children not to discuss the plans at school or around those not invited in order to avoid hurt feelings. Word gets out anyway. What do the uninvited do? Sometimes they sulk, sabotage, cry, or complain. Once in a while they get creative and all the uninvited head to one of their backyards and have a great time of it themselves. Even when we're feeling left out, God always invites us. There's always a "backyard" to go to with God.

The main image contained in this Sunday's Gospel revolves around banquets and celebrations. In the Old Testament reading, we learn from the Prophet Isaiah that all people will be invited to the banquet - not just the specially chosen ones. The term banquet does not seem to do justice to the great celebration that is planned. When we think of the joy, happiness and fun found at the best party we've ever been to, we still only have a fleeting glimpse of the day God has planned for us. It will be the end of all the hurt, suffering, and sadness we have known. The celebration is in honor of salvation, the victory over death. A great celebration is required for this great event.

In his letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul writes that he knows suffering and want, but he especially knows the graciousness of their community. He strongly assures them of their place at the banquet where their every need will be satisfied. Indeed, the invitation to the party is foreveryone.

Matthew again writes of another parable of Jesus which is about a banquet. He again stresses in his writing that we are all invited to God's eternal feast. Sadly, in the story the first group to be invited, however, is apathetic and shrugs off the invitation. We learn that God is aggravated by their indifference. God will invite a second group - anyone who wants to come!

Note, however, if you come, you must follow the rules, including the dress code. In the parable, one person from the second group came to the feast not wearing the traditional wedding garment. He did not have an excuse when asked and, in fact, he could have made any excuse: including short notice or not an original invitee. Bear in mind that he did come when the first guests refused. It does help to wear what is appropriate to whatever event you're going to. How many folks wear Patriots, Bruins, Celtics or Red Sox shirts and hats when they are at the game, watching in sports bar, or even watching at home? We should also think about our garments and clothes of faith that we should wear as we live life each day.