October 11 – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Have you sent in your RSVP yet? From my experience, priests are notoriously bad about not responding to invitations. I don’t know what it is, but most priests just are bad in responding to invitations whether it be to a dinner, a meeting, a wedding reception or some other event where the host needs to know whether you are coming or not. Shame on us! In today’s readings, Isaiah and Matthew remind us that above and beyond the invitations we extend to one another are the invitations of God. In the first reading, the prophet describes a sumptuous banquet hosted by God. Isaiah wants our mouths to water! Picture chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie, creamy pastries, fresh fish, roasted lamb and beef on the spit, berries and cherries, milk and honey. The wine selection is like no other – aged to perfection. But not only will there be food and drink in abundance, but also healing, forgiveness, salvation and great rejoicing. “Will you come?” asks God. “Well, of course,” we answer. “You don’t have to ask me twice!” But our enthusiasm is put to the test by the words of today’s Gospel. In his parable, Jesus acknowledges that some of those invite to the great banquet of God’s reign have found excuses not to come. Family obligations, business affairs or lack of interest have taken priority, and as a result, they put God’s invitation on hold or set it aside altogether. Although written thousands of years ago, Isaiah and Matthew are clearly speaking to us today. They are asking whether we are alert to the invitations that God sends into our lives each day. So how do we respond to God’s many invitations in our lives? Some of those are standing invitations. Like coming to Mass each Sunday when the COVID pandemic is over. Prior to the pandemic though, the weekly invitation might have become so routine that we might not be fully present at the banquet of word and bread and fellowship. At the end of Mass, one pastor in a small rural parish in the South proclaimed to his congregation, “Go forth in peace; this has been the highlight of our day; it is all downhill from here.” This colloquial way of affirming the Eucharistic banquet as the source and summit of our lives remained with his parishioners, who struggled to value all else in their lives as secondary to and dependent upon coming to Mass.
God’s invitations reveals themselves in other ways as well. Through the persons who reach out to us in their need, God invites us to share. Through those who suffer injustice, God invites our advocacy and responsible participation at the ballot box. Through those who have no one to speak for them, no one to uphold their rights to live and work without fear, God invites our persistent involvement on their behalf. There are so many invitations from God during our day. Depending on how we respond (or not) will depend if we are found worthy to the feast. Don’t miss an opportunity to RSVP to God!!
Have a blessed week!