The theme of the 28th Sunday (OT A) is that of the banquet of the Lord. As such it is a theme that should inspire us to hope. The lines from the first reading which is also quoted in the Revelation of John should whet our appetite for the banquet prepared for us:
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
The king’s invitation in the parable of the wedding banquet leaves no doubt that he desires no one to be excluded from the joy of his son’s wedding:
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The banquet is ready and the food is free. But there are requirements to be met…
Guide for Reading
- Construct a Sentence Flow of Matthew 22:1-14. When it is completed, underline the nouns and the verbs, taking note of the subjects of the verbs. By using the verbs as a guide, determine
- the parts that make up the parable
- who the main actors in the parable are
- Read the parable having in mind the following facts about Palestine of the first century
- One does not mess around with a wedding invitation, especially when it is for a son
- the wedding banquet usually lasts for some days; guests have enough time to observe proper protocol
- males wore the kittel, a wrap around white robe (like a bathrobe) which they also wear during Passover
- when a king speaks to one, one should answer
Comparing The Readings
The first reading immediately draws our attention to the banquet theme and the image of the final resurrection. The mountain of the Lord, Zion, will be the place of joy for those who have placed their hopes on Yahweh. The veil that covers all the peoples is the shroud of death and gloom; it will be taken away as one takes away the shroud that covered one who was dead but is now alive. The responsorial psalm celebrates the Lord who spreads the table and anoints one with oil upon one’s entrance into His holy dwelling.
The theme of the eschatological feast in the first reading and the responsorial psalm suggests how we are to approach the gospel reading. Here our attention is drawn to the second part of the parable where the feasting has begun but the king still finds the occassion to act upon the matter of guests who are not properly dressed. The time for separating the bad from the good has come.
The second reading may look out of place at first but the references to “being well fed” and “living in abundance” somehow opens up avenues for understanding it within the theme of the liturgy. Every kindness given and received in this present life is a foretaste and a foreshadowing of the generosity and joy of the eschatological banquet. Paul thanks the Philippians for having helped him in times of distress. From the way Paul formulates these verses, we are made to understand that though Paul did not ask for their kindness, the Philippians still showed their kindness to him. The blessing that Paul asks for them is a wish that the community experience in advance the bounty of the Last Day that Jesus reserves for those who love Him.
Suggestions for the Lesson/Homily
- Check out the following sermons from non-Catholics (as of this writing, I haven’t seen any Catholic homily on the parable) to see how the Parable of the Banquet can still be made to speak to our times.
- Risky Business (Lutheran) ((The article is interesting in that the author also assumes an interpretation for the man’s silence before the king. He rightly understood the text about the muted response of the man as symbolizing a failure in confessing one’s faith. ))
- Dress Code (Matthew 22:1-14)
- NT Studies (Matthew 22:14)
- I would suggest the following line of thought
- Begin with the statement we recite just before Communion: “Behold the Lamb of God… Blessed are they who are called to his banquet” and from there proceed to the theme of the first reading and to the requirements of the wedding garment (seen as the virtuous deeds of the saints) from the parable; OR
- One can begin with the Responsorial Psalm explaining it in such a way that it becomes a kind of allegory for the way the Good Shepherd takes care of his sheep:
- he takes care of them as he leads them through this vale of tears (here, a link to the second reading: the Lord also takes care of us through the community He calls His own.)
- at the end brings them to his dwelling
- where he prepares a meal for them, vindicating them against those who in this life were their enemies