An invitation to God’s banquet
15 October 2023 28th Sunday Year A
The image of the abundant, fulfilling feast is used throughout the scriptures to explain God’s promise of eternal life. On the mountain of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah says in today’s first reading, God will “provide for all peoples a feast of juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.”
This metaphor of the abundant feast is used to describe the promise of God that he will “destroy the veil” between himself and humanity, “wipe away the tears from every face” and “destroy death forever”.
In today’s gospel, Jesus uses this imagery of Isaiah and ties the prophet’s promises into his own mission. Jesus’ parable reveals how the great reunion between God and humanity, where God will provide for his people and defeat death forever as foretold by the prophets, is exactly what is being through Jesus’ death and resurrection at Calvary. Hearing about Christ’s coming, death and resurrection is like receiving an invitation to a great wedding banquet, where the banquet represents eternal life with God.
And as Isaiah says, this provision is for “all peoples.” However, as Jesus goes on to say, “many are invited” to this heavenly banquet “but few are chosen.”
There are people who reject the invitation to the eternal life that God has planned for us. As Jesus’ parable explains, people often dismiss God’s messengers without hearing what they have to say. Some have other business they consider more important. Others react aggressively to the message. Some receive the message and come to the party, see everything that God has provided, but reject the way that has been prepared.
This invitation to eternal that Jesus is more than just being assured of going to a nice place after we die. It is not about our souls receiving psychological enlightenment or a prize for good behaviour. Eternal life, as Jesus says elsewhere in the gospels, is to know God, to know his goodness in the depths of our being, and to know Jesus Christ, and his message of salvation.
In the life to come, we will be restored to communion with God and participation in his very nature. Eternal life, therefore, involves stepping into a new way of living. Not just accepting the invitation but living in the new life of love and holiness that we were created for.
What God wants more than anything else is that his children freely choose the life that he has on offer. And so, while we walk on this earth, the invitations are constantly issued to those of us willing to hear. Unlike the man who rejects to wear the wedding garment in this parable, which symbolises living the love and justice that God has created us for, we can respond differently to the king’s gentle question: “’My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’”
The gospel reminds us to keep accepting Jesus’ invitations. The eternal life he is calling us to be part of is the one we have been created for.
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