Twenty-Eighth Ordinary Sunday-A
Weekend Three: Annual Stewardship Commitment Sunday
Isaiah 25: 6-10a
Philippians 4: 12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22: 1-14
This is our Annual Stewardship Renewal Commitment Weekend. Thank you for being a part of this great opportunity for our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families to grow as disciples of Jesus, as we make our stewardship commitments 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! You may place then in the collection baskets at the doorways. Others of you have already mailed in your commitment cards or submitted then online. Thank you!
Perhaps you forgot to fill-out a card or to bring it with you today. Would you kindly do so this week? In advance, I thank you too.
I remember being invited to a Christmas party that I thought was a casual event. And so I arrived in a pullover sweater and khaki slacks. When the hostess opened the door of her home, I saw that she was dressed in a full-length black gown and that all the other guests were in formal attire. I was embarrassed to death!
I wanted to go home and change, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Even though all the other guests treated me kindly, I spent the entire evening totally aware of how under-dressed and out-of-place I was. And I couldn’t wait to get home.
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 was giving for his son. And those who were invited refused to come. So the king extends his invitation to everyone in the streets to come to the feast.
One man was there not wearing an appropriate wedding garment, 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?
One explanation is that 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 “dress-down duds” rather than the free “tux and tails” that the king provided.
What does this mean for us?
We have been invited here to 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 ritually 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.
We will move from the Social Hall this evening and re-enter our newly-enhanced Saint Joseph Church tomorrow morning, Monday, 12 October, for the 9:00 AM Mass. And we will resume hearing Confessions in Saint Joseph Church this week at the usual times: on Thursday evenings after the 7:00 PM Mass, and on Saturday mornings from 11:00 until 12:00 Noon.
The Mass is the celebration of the “wedding feast of the Lamb.” We are invited. 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.”
And invited, we are to be clothed in Christ in the life of grace.
Today’s Gospel parable is about God’s desire that we all go 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 wedding banquet in heaven.
All this 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 garment:
“You have become a new creation and have clothed yourself in Christ. May this white garment be a sign to you of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring it unstained into eternal life. Amen.”
We have been invited. 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.”
And we respond: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
“Say that word, Jesus. Please, say that word. Amen.”