Homily - 28th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A - Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj

11 October 2020 

Homily for XXVIII (28) Sunday Year A. 11-10-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj. 
 First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10 
 Psalm: Psalm 22(23) 
 Second Reading: Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 
 Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14 
 
Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah prophesies about what will take place on the mountain of the Lord, a banquet of rich food and fine wines which the Lord Himself will prepare for all peoples. But why is the Lord doing all of these? It is because He wants to take away mourning from His people by destroying death, and He will remove their shame as well so that they can live happily in Him. This prophecy is an imagery of the messianic banquet which the Lord is preparing for the end time and it is the same motif Christ picks up in the gospel reading according to Matthew in the last of the Parables of Rejection He addresses to us today in the story of the Wedding feast.  
 
Wedding feasts are an important moment in our lives as human beings because they are a joyous occasion of love, life and union of a man and woman, who come together to form a new family, the domestic church, through a lifelong partnership. So, it is a symbol of hope for the continuity of the human species and as such it normally takes place only after a period of preparation and planning. That is why in the Catholic Church, matrimony is devoted a great attention and when validly contracted between two baptized persons, it enjoys the dignity of a sacrament (cf. c.1055). In scripture too weddings are accorded the same importance and they take on the particular significance of reminding us of God’s love for His people the Church. Quite importantly, it is a love that is so enveloping and enduring with the reassurance that God cannot desert or abandon His faithful even in death. It is in this light that Paul will say ‘neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38,39).’ Hence it is not strange that the bible is replete with this imagery of marriage beginning from the first book. In Genesis 2:24 scripture states ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,’ while the last book of the bible in Revelation 19:6-9, talks about the marriage feast of the Lamb. In addition, St. Paul using the same scripture would also admonish couples on Christian living hinged on love in Ephesians 5:21-33, and particularly in verse 25 where he says ‘for husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave up His life for her.’ For us Christians therefore, weddings are not just a day for the public expression of love between the couples but it is also an anamnesis of the love God has for us that is symbolized by the marriage covenant between the man and the woman.
 
We can say then that it is not strange to see the King today get angry. For after having put in so much effort in preparing for his son’s wedding and incurring expenses for the welfare of his invited guests, they turned him down on the wedding day by not showing up. As if that was not enough, they also mistreated his servants whom he had sent to them. Faced with this embarrassment he then invites strangers from everywhere who came and were having a good time until he found someone who was not in a wedding garment and threw him out. The questions that come to mind here are, who is this man and how did he get in without the right garment? Did he bribe his way in? And since he was not in the right garment, what did he put on then?
 
The invitation to this wedding feast symbolizes the invitation to God’s banquet of life which is extended to everyone. This banquet is the eucharist and it is a foretaste of that heavenly banquet. Through it therefore we share in the intimacy of the Banquet of Heaven because in it we eat the true and real body and blood of Christ together with His soul and divinity. And since the eucharist is not a symbol, receiving it requires adequate preparation, not excluding physically coming into God’s presence which in turn requires a special “habit” we must put on. That is not the suit or cassock and chasuble or skirt and blouse with the shoes that we always put on! This man came in like everyone else clothed but was in the wrong garment because he had lost that “habit”. The “habit” which is the right garment for the feast is what St. Paul tells us in Romans 13:14 where he says ‘rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.’ When we put on the Lord Jesus we have put on our Christianity and this identity redefines our value system as ordained by God. God expects us to put this garment on everywhere we find ourselves. When we are dressed in this “wedding garment” it shows in the way we respond to God’s love and the people around us are able to see and know that we are Christians by the way and manner we live our lives. As a Christian ask yourself today if you are still putting on this habit of Christ (the right garment) or something else. What do people see when they look at you?
 
Today we have Christians in all continents, and how we are able to know is only because Christian names are a common place world over. We are reminded today that it is not enough to bear the name of Christian when we are not living out our Christian identity. We have many Christians in government and public offices today who are afraid of standing up for Christ in defense of Christian values, and instead choose to preach and defend the ideals of the world. Such Christians have lost their ‘wedding garment’ and they need to find it and re-clothe themselves once again with the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance without delay is the only key. But what about you as a Christian young adult, parent, pastor/minister, politician, doctor, engineer, lawyer, teacher, student, professional, have you lost your garment? What garment are you putting on now, in your duty post, and everywhere you find yourself? Remember if you are a Christian only by name, you are lukewarm and the Lord is going to throw you out of the banquet hall. So, even though baptism is necessary for salvation, it is not sufficient if not practically lived out by corresponding Christian deeds. Go and find your lost “wedding garment” and put it on so that you can enjoy the feast along with the other invited guests and dwell in your father’s house, the Lord’s own house forever and ever. May the Lord touch our hearts to honour His invitation promptly and grant us the grace never to lose our “wedding garment”. Amen.

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