A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 46)
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – October 9, 2005
“Come to the Feast”
Is 26:6-10a // Phil 4:12-14, 19-20 // Mt 22:1-14
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
Today’s Parable of the Guests and the Wedding Garment (Mt 22:1-14) is part of what could be called the “liturgies for times of crisis”, which are composed of the Sunday celebrations of the 26th, 27th and 28th in Ordinary Time. The Gospel pericopes of these Sundays call for a decisive and critical decision for the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. They likewise depict the unfortunate fate of those who reject him and negate the heavenly Father’s offer of saving love in his beloved Son. Indeed, the task and challenge of making critical options for Christ is reinforced by the evangelist Matthew’s insistence that our initial response to the Lord’s invitation to participate in his divine love is of no value if it does not translate into action. This Sunday’s Parable reminds us that we must obey God in action, not just in word. It also underlines the legitimate demands and obligations imposed on those who wish to participate in the eschatological or end-time meal.
To help us internalize the challenging message of this Sunday’s Gospel, the Jesuit biblical scholar, Daniel Harrington, gives us the following background: “The parable of the royal marriage feast concerns the punishment of Jesus’ opponents (especially vv. 5-7) and has many features in common with the parable of the tenants in 21:33-46. The marriage feast or banquet was a popular way of imagining what life in the coming kingdom would be like. The king and his son clearly represent God the Father and Jesus Christ respectively. The invitation offered by the first group of servants (prophets) is refused (v. 3), but the invitation given by the second group of servants (perhaps John the Baptist and Jesus) encounters not only indifference (v. 5) but also hostility, to the point that those servants are executed (v. 6). The vivid description in verse 7 of how the king’s army destroyed those murderers and their city surely brought to the minds of Matthew’s first readers the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Because the professedly and publicly religious people of Israel refused the invitation to the kingdom of God, a general invitation has been made (vv. 8-10) to all kinds of people, including tax collectors and prostitutes (and perhaps even non-Jews).”
Daniel Harrington then delineates the caveat of what it means to be invited to the royal marriage feast: “Mere acceptance of the invitation, however, does not guarantee participation in the banquet, as the incident in verses 11-13 makes clear. Guests at a wedding banquet would be expected to appear in clean and neat clothing. When the king (God the Father) sees a man who is not dressed properly, he questions him in a cool manner (“My friend”) and has him ejected from the banquet hall. Being a tax collector or prostitute is no more a guarantee of salvation than being a Pharisee or chief priest; rather, one must receive Jesus’ invitation and act upon it so that when the banquet actually begins, one will be properly prepared to participate. In this context the saying in verse 14 suggests that the invitation to the kingdom has been offered to all kinds of people, but only a few of them act upon it in such a way as to be allowed to participate in the banquet of the kingdom.”
The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, give us deeper insight by connecting this parable with the Eucharist: “It is within the framework of the Eucharistic liturgy that the parable of those invited to the wedding of the king’s son takes on its full meaning and directly affects us. The Church, which has a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, must go to the crossroads in order to invite to the wedding feast all those it encounters, bad and good alike, but also to teach them the demands of the kingdom of heaven. Christians assembled around the Lord’s table have the heavy responsibility to manifest to others the real nature of the true Church and the meaning of participation in the Eucharist, the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed and also the fount from which all her power flows. Each one has the duty to act in such a way that most people become aware of the invitation to the Lord’s meal, and many are moved to join them when they see Christians celebrating. This demands that Christians show themselves having put on Christ as attested by their good works … Then, having celebrated the Lord’s meal on earth, in truth and joy, we shall take our place, with the chosen, at the wedding banquet of the Lamb, in the kingdom.”
by a Filipino Religious Brother
Preparation for a wedding banquet is too tedious. It puts the host into great anxiety. The host will always look forward to the success of the occasion. The celebration is disappointing if the invited guests will not come despite all the preparation and invitations. Moreover, the story of the gospel is impossible today. We seldom see a rich man inviting people of a lower class in his banquet. This is impossible. If this will happen, the occasion is frowned upon by the wealthy and influential.
In reading the Gospel, the story reminds me of the experience of our parish priest in the province. He was organizing the Basic Ecclesial Community. He was scouting possible community-leaders to facilitate the barrio people in forming little communities and, at the same time, to train Special Eucharistic Ministers to serve in the parish. The parish priest invited first the town people, “taga-poblacion”. Some attended, but slowly they decreased in number until no one remained. The priest was disappointed.
The Basic Ecclesial Community is the trust and mission of the Diocese in response to the promulgation of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. The Council would like to emphasize the importance of the community-based church wherein lay people can participate with their time, treasure and talents. Because of the priest’s disappointment, he, in turn, called the people from the barrio to attend seminars. The poor from the countryside gladly responded to the call. They started a series of seminars and special education about the basic tenets of faith, the Bible and the Doctrines. The presence of the “taga-barrio” and the “hijos/hijas de entresuelo” (sons and daughters of the nobility by mistresses in the countryside) annoyed the people in the “centro”.
The “taga-barrio” started to occupy a space in the parish. They became regular visitors of the parish priest and that made the town people indifferent to them. One morning, during the Novena Mass in preparation for the town fiesta, carts and muddy vehicles started to arrive. They were decorated with artificial flowers, twigs and leaves, giving a festive atmosphere that made the people wonder. This event astonished the people. Envy haunted the townsfolk when some of these from the barrio went in the procession with the priest at the beginning of the Mass. They were commissioned as Lay Leaders and Special Eucharistic Ministers to help the priest in distributing communion.
Even now, there are few Special Eucharistic Ministers from the “centro”. Indeed, the wealthy and influential are occupied more by their affairs and they have missed the call to associate with the poor and the little ones. This is still an issue in the parish among the nobles.
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. What is our response to the Lord’s invitation, “Come to the feast”?
B. How do we react to the indifference and violence shown by the obstinate and the ruthless to the gracious invitation to participate in the heavenly feast of God’s kingdom? What do we do to rectify this unfortunate and dreadful situation?
C. What is the symbolism of the “wedding garment” mentioned in this Sunday’s parable and its significance for us?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
(Commission Francophone “Cistetcienne, Tropaires des dimanches, 125)
Leader: You were hungry;
you were thirsty;
for you I have prepared the wedding feast.
Assembly: So many other voices have drowned out your call;
so many lies have ensnared our hearts.
Lord, call us back to your love.
Leader: Your days were spent far from my joy;
for you I have prepared festive garments.
Assembly: So many other joys scattered our desires;
so many mirages fascinated our eyes.
Lord, call us back to your love.
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“Everything is ready; come to the feast.” (Mt 22:4b)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: Pray that the invitation to the wedding feast of God’s kingdom may find a welcoming response in the hearts of our people and that they strive to “put on Christ” as their true wedding garment in the feast of God’s kingdom. Endeavor to bring the bounty of God’s wedding feast to the poor and hungry of today’s distressed and suffering world.
B. ACTION PLAN: That we may participate worthily and meaningfully in the feast of God’s kingdom and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 46): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323