What will we do with our invitation to the ‘wedding feast’

By: By Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time/Oct. 12

Isaiah 25:6-10a; Psalm 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6; Philippians 4:12-14,19-20; Matthew 22:1-14

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite events to attend is a wedding. There is something about the air of celebration that is contagious at a wedding. I guess I am in good company. Jesus seems to like weddings also. He attended at least one that we know about; he highlighted weddings in some of his stories.

Today’s readings focus on weddings. Both Isaiah and Jesus present weddings as a symbol of the kingdom. In Isaiah’s reading, it seems that everyone will be at the heavenly wedding: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” (Isaiah 25: 6)

In the story from Matthew’s Gospel Jesus gives the invitation to the wedding a different twist. It has the element of choice — some will be there, but others have little interest in accepting the invitation. They have too many preoccupations that appear to be of greater concern for them:
“Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.” (Matthew 22:5) As a result, the invitation went out to the streets, to the bad and the good alike. Those who were not originally invited were willing and open to go to the wedding.

WHERE IS OUR HEART?
This story brings up questions of choice. What a difference choice makes! God invites; we are free to respond. The critical question then becomes “Where is our heart?” Is it open to the gift of God or are we so preoccupied that we do not hear the invitation or, if we do, we are focused on other interests?

One example comes to mind that makes the point. Dorothy Day, whose life was dedicated to the needs of the neediest around her “got” the message of joining the wedding feast. She began in her earthly life the journey toward that invitation of fullness in God where the wedding feast would last forever. She cared for the homeless, the hungry, the lonely. She recognized the voice and face of Christ in these people.

A testimony that Dorothy Day responded and lived the invitation to join the wedding feast was her funeral. There were not only the friends she had made — colleagues, priests, Sisters — but also the bag ladies, addicts, beggars, the homeless and all those other poor ones in whom she saw Christ in her compassion and service to God’s people on earth.

The question then becomes for us: “Has my heart been formed to hear the invitation to the wedding feast or am I so preoccupied with what is enhancing my present life, that I am deaf to hearing the voice of God?

The message of Jesus is clear: the wedding will include many types of people, many who might be a great surprise to us. John Wesley once stated that when he arrived in heaven, he would be surprised by three things. First, he would be surprised to see who is there. Second, he would be surprised by who is not, and third, he would be surprised to find himself there.

The invitation from Jesus to join the wedding feast is given to each of us now. Are we prepared to put on the garments of selflessness, love and compassion that demonstrate our desire to be at the heavenly party?

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SISTER RACHEL Bergschneider, OSB, is a member of the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island. She serves as pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights.

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