A Place at the Banquet
The readings from Isaiah, St. Paul and St. Matthew for this 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time all speak of a God of abundance, who gives us all we need and much more. The Gospel wedding story speaks of the king who throws a wedding feast for his son and invites those on the guest list. The guests who were invited first refused to come. The king was enraged and told his servants to invite anyone they found on the street, the bad and the good alike.
The ones invited first probably had so much already and did not realize or need what the host had to offer. They were lost in their possessions, or maybe were too busy to take time to celebrate. Perhaps they were busy working to earn more in order to have more?
The second group the host invited included all types of people. Why weren’t they invited like the rest? Was the host inviting people from a certain social group for the first round of invitations? How did the host feel about the people who came last? Was he glad they honored his invitation? We know that Jesus does not invite certain people; all are welcome at His Table. Are we comfortable at table with a stranger, a poor person, a person of a different race or religion? Or do we look around when we come to a party in order to find our comfort group with whom to sit and dine? This happens at weddings, also parish gatherings where we all belong to the same parish community. People are not always welcome at everyone’s table.
One further question comes to mind. What about those who weren’t dressed properly and were asked to leave? Did they not know the protocol or have the means to dress correctly? Or did they selfishly not respect the host and the etiquette of the occasion? Maybe they did not wear a mask that was required. Whatever the reason, they did not come prepared for the occasion.
Full participation in the banquet is more than showing up. It is an awareness of who the host is, the necessary preparation to get ready and show respect for the host who invites us. Celebration at the Eucharistic banquet is an invitation to each of us; all are welcome in this place. The well-known hymn Gather the People reminds us that “All are invited, the greatest and the least. The banquet is ready, now to be shared. Join in the heavenly feast that God has prepared.”
Yes, ALL have a Place at the Table!
Sr. Jan Villemure