(Sunday XXVIII OT — A) The Banquet of the Last Day
The Kingdom-Banquet Theme
The leit-motif of the kingdom-banquet theme is conveyed by the first reading and the gospel. The Isaianic oracle from Isaiah 25:6-10 is a vision of the eschatological banquet that God will host on His holy mountain. That day will see the end of the death (the shroud that covers the peoples … the web woven over all nations), and the age of mourning. The shame that hangs over God’s people will be taken away and He will be revealed for what He is: the Good that all looked for, the Savior of His people.
The parable of the wedding banquet in a way contains an explanation of how the kingdom of God will be transferred to a people that will give God the fruits pleasing to Him. Those who were in the guest list has proven their unworthiness to participate in the banquet and so the king fills up his banquetting hall by letting in anyone who would care to come. His servants call in all that they could find, "both good and bad" and bring them to the banquet. But there is a second part to the banquet. Though many have been called, only some will remain. The king finds someone who does not wear the wedding banquet. What is this wedding banquet?
The Wedding Garment
Though everyone is invited to take part in the banquet, there is still a requirement: the white garment of baptism. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ," writes Paul in a reference to the living out of one’s baptismal vows. The white wedding garment is symbolized in the baptismal garment of the baptized, symbol of the dignity of the status of the children of God. It is also a symbol of the virtues of the saints, that is, the life of righteousness bearing fruit, the spiritual sacrifice of those who make up the new Temple of God which has Christ as its cornerstone.
One can also think of the wedding garment in terms of Christian love, as Tomas Rosica reminds us using one of the sermons of Augustine.
Let us consider the moving words of St. Augustine of Hippo in his sermon (No. 90) on today’s Gospel passage: "What is the wedding garment that the Gospel talks about? Very certainly, that garment is something that only the good have, those who are to participate in the feast. … Could it be the sacraments? Baptism? Without baptism, no one comes to God, but some people receive baptism and do not come to God. … Perhaps it is the altar or what a person receives at the altar? But in receiving the Lord’s body, some people eat and drink to their own condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:29). So what is it? Fasting? The wicked also fast. Going to church often? The wicked go to church just like others. …
"So what is this wedding garment? The Apostle Paul tells us: ‘What we are aiming at … is the love that springs from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith’ (1 Timothy 1:5). That is the wedding garment. Paul is not talking about just any kind of love, for one can often see dishonest people loving others … but one does not see among them this love ‘that springs from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.’ Now that is the love that is the wedding garment.
"The Apostle Paul said: ‘If I speak with human tongues and angelic as well, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. … If I have the gift of prophecy and, with full knowledge, comprehend all mysteries, if I have faith great enough to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). He said that even if he had all that, without Christ ‘I am nothing.’ … It would be useless, because I can act in that way for love of glory … ‘If I have not love, it is of no use.’ That is the wedding garment. Examine yourselves: if you have it, then come to the Lord’s banquet with confidence."
More from Zenit
… and Paul
The reading from Philippians 4:12-14.19-20 may as well an autobiographical note from the apostle who has experienced how to live from the kindness of God and men, as he follows the path of the Suffering Servant. This can be read as the testimony of one who has lived generously in view of the eschatological banquet.
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