by Fr Francis Huwn msfs
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By baptism we are called to the wedding feast in the kingdom of God
In every culture, food is an essential part of celebrations – from the wedding banquet to the Christmas meal. As families and friends we gather around the table, not just out of necessity, but because the time spent together there has emotional, spiritual, and human meaning. At the table, a deeper sense of unity among all is present; food unites as much as it nourishes. So, we can understand why food, and the sharing of it, is so present throughout Scripture.
We see that image in today’s readings from the great banquet foretold by Isaiah with its rich food and choice wines, to the wedding feast in the Gospel. What can a royal wedding feast tell us about God’s kingdom? The king invites people for the royal party for his son’s wedding. Surprisingly, people who are invited decline the royal invitation. What do we make of from this? In this parable, the Lord Jesus is helping us to understand the sacrament of Eucharist.
When Jesus came to this world, he brought heaven to earth. When He left, He gave us a heavenly feast, the Eucharist. The book of Revelation tells us that the Holy Mass is the wedding feast of the Lamb: Jesus (groom) and the church/people of God (bride). Therefore, every Holy Mass is a celebration of that heavenly wedding feast. Yet, despite the majesty, the glory of this wedding feast, many Christians refuse the precious invitation: busy; ignore; some have better things to do on Sundays. They have various reasons for not coming to Church on Sundays. But the fact remains, they miss out this wedding feast of the Lamb that is celebrated in every Eucharist.
Many times, many people mistake the Mass for just an ordinary thing. Because the Mass is celebrated by an ordinary priest; boring repetitive ceremonies; boring homily and so forth. We are missing something here. Maybe we fail to recognise the one who invites us, the Lord of Lords; the king of kings who is really present in the Eucharist. We don’t come for Mass to be entertained by priests or by beautiful singing. The reason for coming to Mass is just because we love the ‘Host of the Banquet’.
The whole atmosphere during the Mass is nothing but heavenly worship: everyone focuses on the Lord who is on the altar; prayers and offerings are made to God; singing hymns of worship and praise are rendered to God. This is what it is going to be like in heaven. In heaven, the whole attention is towards God. Such is the beauty of the Holy Mass. There is no social gathering, not spiritual gathering that can match the Holy Mass. “We don’t need to die to go to heaven. All we’ve got to do is go to Mass. Mass is heaven on earth.”
The parable ends with a sad note; the king threw out a man from the wedding feast. Why? Because the man is not prepared, inappropriately attired; he failed to put on the wedding garment. What is this wedding garment? It is the spiritual attire or garment- the good deeds; the repentant heart, change of mind and heart. One can be there in the Mass with unrepented heart; even receive the body and blood with an unforgiving heart. The person is in the wedding feast without wedding garment.
May we be always found prepared when we participate in the Eucharist with the grace of our baptism, the wedding garment of salvation.