Weekend Three: Annual Stewardship Commitment Sunday
Isaiah 25: 6-10a
This is our Annual Stewardship Renewal Commitment Sunday. Thank you for being a part of this great opportunity for our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families as we make our stewardship commitments together in the areas of time, talent and treasure for the next twelve months..
I know that many of you have brought your commitment cards with you today, all filled-out. Thank you! Others of you have already mailed in your commitment cards. Thank you!
Perhaps you forgot to fill-out a card. Well I am going to give you the opportunity to do so right here with the cards and pencils in the pews. The cards trimmed in blue are for Saint Joseph parishioners. The cards trimmed in gold are for Nativity parishioners. Just raise your hand if you need a card or a pencil and I would ask those nearby to pass one to you.
You can use one card for all of the persons in your household – adults and young people. Please write your first name next to the ministry that you are either “already involved in” or that you are “interested in joining.”
At the time of the collection, we may all deposit our completed commitment cards in the basket along with our regular Offertory envelopes.
Since this Commitment Sunday is so important, if you have not already completed a card, I invite you to do so right now while I offer some thoughts about today’s Gospel.
Harry was a suit-and-tie kind of guy who was just getting into the world of “business casual Fridays.” So he asked his wife to purchase some things that would be suitable.
On Friday morning he went to the walk-in closet in their master bedroom, saw some new clothing hanging there and selected a sweater.
After work he announced to his wife that his presentation had been a major success. When she turned to look at him she was aghast and said, “You wore that sweater to work today?”
“Oh, yes, Honey,” he replied. “And people really seemed to notice.”
“Harry,” she said. “That is the new sweater I bought for myself!”
Jesus tells us a parable in today’s Gospel. And it has something to do with clothing. It is about a wedding banquet that a king is giving for his son. And those who were invited refused to come. So the king extends an invitation to everyone in the streets to come to the feast.
One man was there without an appropriate wedding garment on, and the king had him thrown out into the darkness “where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
Why was the king so harsh with this guest?
Well, in those days when commoners were invited to the royal palace for an event, they first visited “the robing room” where they could select something appropriate to wear, free of charge.
But this guest preferred to wear his own “business casual” attire to the royal wedding banquet rather than the free “tux and tails” that the king provided.
What does this mean for us?
We have been invited here for the Lord’s Eucharistic banquet. And we are expected to be “clothed in Christ.”
We were first “clothed in Christ” in the life of grace at our Baptism. We were washed clean from all sin with the waters of Baptism in the name of the Trinity. And then we were clothed with a white garment to symbolize our spotlessness before Him.
The Sacrament of Penance – or Reconciliation or Confession – was called “Second Baptism” by an early writer in the Church. This sacrament gives us sinners the graced opportunity to have our baptismal innocence restored.
The Eucharist – the Mass – is the celebration of the “wedding feast of the Lamb.” We are invited and we are to come “clothed in Christ.” And these are the words we hear the priest say right before we receive Jesus in Holy Communion: “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.”
Today’s Gospel parable is about God’s desire that we all get to heaven, and God’s free gift to us of what it takes to get there, the life of grace – that we can accept or refuse.
The Mass is a preview here on earth of God’s eternal banquet in heaven. His invitation to attend still stands, as does His offer that we wear the wedding garment the He has provided – that we “put on Christ” and live the life of His grace.
And this all began with our Baptism. This is what the priest or deacon said to you on the day you were baptized when you were clothed with the white baptismal garment:
“You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven. Amen.”
We have been invited to come to the Wedding Feast, the Supper of the Lamb, the Eucharistic Banquet. And we are expected to arrive “clothed in Christ” in the life of grace.
“Blessed are those” – blessed are we – who are “called to the Supper of the Lamb.”