Dressing for the Great Feast
Down through the ages, God has always called man to a lasting fellowship with him. He first offered the gift of salvation to his chosen people, the Israelites, sending prophet after prophet to announce his invitation. Yet one after another his servants, the prophets, were rejected. Thus, his invitation was extended to all peoples – to the wheat and the weeds, the good and the bad. This is the theme of this Sunday’s First Reading (Isaiah 25:610) and the Gospel (Matthew 22:114) where the ultimate union with God is marked by a great wedding feast, with God as the king-host, the servants as the prophets and the apostles, the first set of invitees as the nation Israel, and the second set as every man and woman who has ever lived, who lives, and who will live on the face of the earth.
A common reflection on these readings is that salvation is for all. It is not only for an elite few, but is something available to anyone who will respond to God’s call. Isaiah’s prophecy on the destruction of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and of the veil that is cast over all nations, has already been fulfilled.
Fulfilled in the coming of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Fulfilled in his passion, death and resurrection. And brought to a climax in the great banquet in heaven when all believers will be nourished by the food that truly satisfies and never spoils, and which sustains to eternal life.
To attend that great feast, we, however, have to be dressed appropriately for the occasion. The man in the gospel who attended without the proper wedding garment was cast into the outer darkness where men weep and gnash their teeth.
This garment is not one that is made of fine pearls and jewels, but is symbolic of holiness that must accompany our relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. Accepting God’s invitation to come to his feast is indeed a giant step towards being saved, but we must we be garbed fittingly for the feast. Our acceptance of Jesus Christ must not be an empty declaration, but must be one that bears the fruit of righteousness – of faith that manifests itself in l ove.
In our journey, as the psalmist sings (Psalm 23) in this Sunday’s liturgy, the Lord himself is our good shepherd. With this, like St. Paul, we can claim, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).