Theme: THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
- Isaiah 25:6-10
- Psalm 22 (23). R. v. 6
- Matthew 22:1-10 (Shorter Form)
Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, or 28th Sunday of the Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about the “kingdom of heaven”!
The gospel tells us that the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent out his servants to call the invited guests to the wedding, but they would not come. He sent out more servants to call the invited guests, but still they would not come! Instead, one went to his farm, another went to do his business, and the rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. The king was angry and he destroyed the murderers and burned their town.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘the wedding is ready, and since the invited guests are not worthy, go to the crossroads and invite everybody’! The servants went to the roads and invited everybody, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was full of guests!
The allegory of this parable is clear. The king is God the Father, his son is Jesus Christ. The servants are the prophets. The invited guests who did not come for the wedding are the Jews. The “uninvited guests” who were invited later and came for the wedding are the Gentiles and the sinners, and the tax collectors and prostitutes!
But more importantly, the first reading from Isaiah tells us what the king (NJBC) does in the kingdom of heaven! The first reading tells us that “on this mountain”, that is, on Mount Zion, a symbol of the heavenly Jerusalem (CSB), that is, in the kingdom of heaven, the king will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food and fine wine, rich and juicy food and fine strained wines! The king will remove the mourning veil and the mourning shroud from his people. He will destroy death forever! He will wipe away every tear. He will remove the shame from his people. He will save his people!
The responsorial psalm tells us that in the kingdom of heaven, the shepherd-king (the kings of Israel are shepherd-kings, NJBC) will lead his people and provide his people with food and drink! Thus we sang and prayed in the responsorial psalm:
Stanza 1: ‘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’!
Stanza 2: ‘He guides me in the right path. He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness and death, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort’!
Stanza 3: ‘You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my enemies. (So that my enemies will see that I am a friend and guest of God). You have anointed my head with oil (perfumed olive oil of welcome and hospitality) and my cup is overflowing (with wine)’!
Stanza 4: ‘Surely goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house will I dwell forever and ever’! (This last verse of the responsorial psalm is the response of the responsorial psalm)!
Today the “kingdom of heaven” is the Church, not the building, but the people of God! And the banquet of rich food and fine wines is the Eucharist! In the Eucharist we eat the body of Christ, and we drink the blood of Christ! And our Risen Lord in the power of His Holy Spirit will remove our mourning veils and mourning palls. He will destroy our deaths forever! He will wipe away our tears. He will remove our shame! He will save us!
He is doing it right here and now and he will continue to do it every Sunday until the end of time when we will eat and drink of the eternal and eschatological banquet in heaven! This is the Good News! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.