Isaiah 25: 6-1a – Philippians 4: 12-14 – Matthew 12: 1-10
What better way to describe how God seeks to be united with us than to speak of a banquet, an image that is familiar to us. A banquet usually celebrates some type of special occasion or event. . In addition to the sharing of food in a bountiful way, there is the expression of gratitude and esteem that is conveyed to those who are invited. It is a truly fitting way to describe the “Kingdom,” the abiding presence of God with us.
Much is involved in putting on a banquet. In addition to the preparation of the food, there are the invitations, the responses of the guests, the setting and decorations, s well as the entertainment or program presented. These things are all apparent in both of the passages of Scripture that we have heard, from Isaiah and Matthew. Yet, in the Gospel account, despite all that has been done and the importance of the occasion being celebrate, the invitations are refused. The rationalizations given for this refusal are twofold. On the one hand there is the failure to recognize the values of what is being offered. On the other hand, the invited guests allow their own selfishness to overrule the effort to take part in the event.
The story of God’s relationship with mankind, with us, is the story of the generosity of god. In addition to giving the gift of life, God has given us this world, this universe, indeed, all of creation. Even more God has entered this world in the person of Jesus Christ, shared our life, and gave of that life on our behalf.
Often, particularly in past times, we have refused the generosity of these gifts of god to us. Perhaps we have taken them for granted. Or we have fallen victim to a common trait in our society and culture of seeking some type of self-directed, self gratification. Perhaps our experience now with the limitations we have experiences during these last few months as well as the inconveniences we have had to endure out of consideration of others, we have recognized, or have had the opportunity to recognize, what is genuinely important, what is genuinely valuable.
We need, however, to be open to hearing the invitation made to us by God. It calls for a genuine desire to dialogue with God in prayer. It calls for a removing of what might distract us and take us away from the Lord. It calls for doings away with selfishness – something that can be difficult.
Once again, it is Saint Paul who gives us an important lesson. The Christians at Philippi to whom he was writing, had generously supported him. For this he was grateful. But he also points out that whether he has all he needs, or he is deprived of even the essentials for living made no difference to him. What is important to him was proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What we have heard today is a description of how God, in many different and bountiful ways, seeks to be joined with us. More than anything else, this is what the banquet prepared for us, the banquet to which we have been invited, represents to us. This Banquet, the Kingdom of
God, is a reality made known to us in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The invitation made to us is to continue that ministry, that mission, in our daily lives through the way we make known our faith and trust in goo and gracious God.