The Bishops Homily – 28th Sunday In Ordinary Time 2017

28th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle A | 15 October 2017
Is. 25: 6-10
Phil. 4: 12-14; 19-20
Mt. 22: 1-14

INTRODUCTION: The Gospel Parable of Mt. this Sunday is one of the most shocking stories with exaggerated reactions that are difficult to understand.

(1) The Story: It is about a king who gives a wedding party for his son and sends his servants to invite the people. Those invited gave all kinds of excuses and some lunatics even beat and killed the servants. The king reacted in anger and sent his troops to destroy the murderers and even burnt their town. At the end, the king sent out his servants everywhere to invite everyone. Finally, when the banquet hall was filled with people, the king decided to join the guests in the hall and finds one who came without his wedding garments. The king approached him and upbraided him and threw him out of the banquet hall! What do we make of this story? It is full of exaggerations: the violence of the king to the people who refused his invitation and to the only guest without his wedding garment. The king who represents God acts strangely like a psychotic!

(2) Preliminary Note: Flann O’Connor, the best fiction writer of the 20th century, said once: “In the land of the deaf, you have to shout!” He means that in the secular world, one has to shock people with exaggerated emotions and character to wake us up to an awareness. What we should not do is to literally allegorize the details so as to make God act like the king in the Parable.

(3) The Details: A king (God) is giving a banquet for his son (Jesus)! Imagine you get one such invitation from Malacañang for the wedding of the President’s son or daughter and all the leading figures of society would be there in attendance. In the culture of that time and place, there is no better invitation than that. One is not likely to refuse such an invitation from no less than God who intends to offer to all of us a share  in the Divine Life or in the best food described in Is. 25: “On this mountain, the Lord of Hosts will prepare for all people, a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.” We are meant to see here how valuable such invitation is and how odd it is that we should choose to reject it. That exactly was what those invited did.

The servants God sends up and down the centuries are his spokespersons who even now meet the same fate as the prophets of old and the holy teachers which in itself is hard to understand or, what even goes beyond reason, some have been murdered!

That was why God the King was angry. What is God’s anger? It is not that he is going into a good or bad mood again but as a metaphor for God’s desire to set things right. So, the destruction of the City refers to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. It signals the negativity and the spiritual destruction that follows from refusal of the divine invitation.

After the refusal is the general invitation to everyone! This is the relentless offer of grace given to the good and bad, not because one is good. God invites, invites, and invites. Do we refuse? Yes, sometimes, because of sin but God invites again and again!

Having dragged everyone available, why that action of the king to the man without his wedding garment? Has he fall back to his bad mood again? Grace and the initial acceptance of grace comes first but it is not enough! We must live according to the rule of the house. We must dress ourselves appropriately! The wedding garment stands for developed moral and spiritual life or renewal of life. Without that renewal, one is no better than those who had refused the invitation from the beginning.

CONCLUSION: The Parable intends to wake us up to these essential dynamics of spiritual life or holiness.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches