A Banquet Invitation

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Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, today I come to you with deep hope and desire to know you and recognize your grace at work in my life. I know that my life here on earth is a short journey moving closer to the eternal wedding feast in the Father’s house. Help me to persevere through any difficulty or challenge I encounter on my journey with you this day. How I need your help, your guidance, and your protection. Increase my faith in your presence and your goodness toward me, granting all I need as your chosen and beloved child. 
Encountering Christ:

  1. Accepting the Gift: God is never outdone in generosity. How consoling to know his generosity is not dependent upon what we deserve but rather on his abundant goodness, love, and desire for our happiness. No one who had been invited to the feast was there because of merit or status, but purely by decree of the king’s initiative. Christ himself is the banquet of divine life and abundant grace. We don’t deserve to receive him (“Lord, I am not worthy,” Matthew 8:8). It is his longing to share the joy of his existence with us that overflows in bountiful generosity. Our first duty in response to God’s loving generosity is to accept his gift of grace. Let us run forward, embracing the opportunity to receive grace through the regular reception of the Eucharist, frequent confession, and openness to his will. 
  2. Called and Chosen: Three times the king dispatched servants to extend his invitation far and wide to anyone interested. We see that many were foolish and self-absorbed, preoccupied by their own worldly pursuits. Attached to good things (work, well-being, and profitability), they sadly rejected the opportunity for something far better. Here lies the mystery and drama of our human freedom. We overlook admitting how indebted we are to God’s goodness as the cause and purpose of our very being. In our own lives, self-reliance, distraction, and busyness can lead us to consider God’s plans an interruption to our own, and forget that ours have no meaning if not centered and focused in his. The possibility that we could reject God’s invitation should motivate us to continually care for our life of grace in friendship with Christ and to share with others an invitation to the feast. 
  3. Christian Joy: Wedding feasts are a time for great joy, celebration, and happiness. Jesus often used this favored image for heaven—for his kingdom. It describes what he longs to share and promises to us if we follow the way of faithful obedience to his will. The joy that awaits us will far exceed and outlast any suffering we may carry in this life. Hope in the Resurrection and life with God for all eternity should fill us with overwhelming joy and happiness. How does my faith and hope for heaven influence my witness to living as a joy-filled Christian before the challenges in this fallen world? 

Conversing with Christ: My Lord, you want to offer me every good gift and grace I need to draw closer to you as the source of my happiness. You offer your intimate friendship to every single person. Your goodness, love, and mercy are for everyone including me. Please forgive me for the moments I have rejected you out of foolishness over my own concerns. You know how hard it is for me to overcome attachments to seeking security in my achievements, in how others perceive me, and in worldly comforts. Help me to respond freely to seeking your grace and expressing my gratitude with a generous and joy-filled heart each day. 
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend a moment contemplating and fostering my longing for heaven. With hope in the Resurrection, I will seek to give witness to living with Christian joy in responding to any challenge today. 
For Further Reflection: The Kingdom Without End: A Retreat Guide on Christ the King 
Written by Lucy Honner, CRC.

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