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First reading Isaiah 25:6-10
The Lord will prepare a banquet for every nation
On this mountain,
the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines,
of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.
On this mountain he will remove
the mourning veil covering all peoples,
and the shroud enwrapping all nations,
he will destroy Death for ever.
The Lord will wipe away
the tears from every cheek;
he will take away his people’s shame
everywhere on earth,
for the Lord has said so.
That day, it will be said: See, this is our God
in whom we hoped for salvation;
the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.
We exult and we rejoice
that he has saved us;
for the hand of the Lord
rests on this mountain.
Responsorial Psalm 22(23)
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.
You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.
Second reading Philippians 4:12-14,19-20
With the help of the One who gives me strength, there is nothing I cannot master
I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can. Glory to God, our Father, for ever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Matthew 22:1-14
Invite everyone you can to the wedding
Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.
The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’
The marriage feast in today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14) is that of Jesus, for he is the king’s son, the bridegroom who is in love with the human race and who invites everyone to the banquet prepared by his Father.
John, the beloved disciple, saw this truth as so central to the gospel that he opens his account of Jesus’ ministry at a wedding banquet in Cana (John 2:1-11) and those of you who are familiar with the Book of Revelation know that it reaches its climax in a magnificent scene in which Jesus, having been crucified but now victorious, takes his bride, redeemed humanity, to himself that they might enjoy forever the intimacy of love (Revelation 19:7; 21:2).
In the Gospel those invited found excuses to stay away. They were too busy. They had other priorities. It was too much trouble. It is the same today. We can find all sorts of excuses for not coming to the Eucharist on Sunday. Today we are invited to stop and think what it is to which we are being invited.
We are hungry and thirsty and God who loves us is drawing us into the closest union conceivable here on earth. Jesus, the Bridegroom of our souls wants to enter deep within us.
Strengthened and nourished by the Eucharist, we will, as the Responsorial Psalm reminds us, be able to walk through ‘the valley of darkness’, for we are not alone. In today’s Second Reading, Paul says: ‘There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength’.
The ending of the Gospel needs some explanation. The point Jesus is making is that it is not enough just to turn up at the Marriage Feast. It is an invitation to love. When we come we are committing ourselves to respond to his love and to bear the fruits of love in our lives. That is the meaning of wearing the marriage garment.
Fr Michael Fallon msc