11 October 202028 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
28 Ordinary Time

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A - Matthew 22:1-14

Cannibals in New Guinea invited a priest to visit under a truce. They had heard about Jesus. They wanted to see what influence He had on his life. The priest was gloomy. He never smiled. They decided to forget about Christ. They concluded that once the truce was over, they would not eat the priest. His tough hide would cause them heartburn.

Hilaire Belloc wrote: "Wherever the Catholic sun does shine, there is always laughter and good red wine." Would Belloc say that about us?

We are told it takes seventeen face muscles to smile but forty-three to frown. Laughter is the only tranquilizer yet developed that has no side effects. Our expression is the most important garment we wear. Yet, how many of us know fellow-Christians who never smile? They walk about with an eternal mad on their face. They are people one avoids. Undertakers on the job are happier looking than they.

In today's parable, Jesus reminds His Jewish audience that when the Messiah comes, they will enjoy a first class sit down supper with Lenox China and Baccarat crystal. The menu is alluded to in today's Isaiah 25: "juicy red food and pure choice wines." Notice not wine but wines. White with the lobster and red with the filet mignon. It will be the mother of all parties. This is one six star banquet weight watchers should avoid.

Jesus compares living in His company to the equivalent of a party. His Church should be a happy place. To sign on with Him should be as great an occasion as going to a banquet filled with warm laughter, prime ribs, aged wines, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and brandy from Napoleon's cellar.

We should remind ourselves of this wedding parable. Often the charge against the Church is it removes joie de vivre from life. Many argue the Gospels have them do the deeds which they dislike and avoid the activities which they want to perform.

I dislike those banal prints picturing Jesus laughing His head off, but they touch upon a truth. He could not have been gloomy. Firstly, children were constantly pestering Him. Kids avoid sad sacks. Secondly, had He disliked parties, would He have walked many miles to the Cana wedding reception? The record suggests He was so anxious to get to that party He crashed it. Thirdly, because He went to so many parties, His enemies called Him "a glutton and wine drinker." (Mt 11:19) Fourthly, had He been a spoilsport, why would He have hosted a gourmet supper party the night before His death? Would you have the heart to play grip and grin host at your last supper?

The conclusion is Jesus loved pleasant times, loud laughter, and good red wine. He loved to party hearty. His puckish sense of humor caused this young Asiatic Jew to use amusing illustrations, puns, and jokes. He spoke them with a full smile. It is a pity we don't have Him on video tape in living color. His stories raised a chuckle, even a giggle, on the part of His spellbound audience. His patter was homey and earthy.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus often went into the mountains alone. Why? GK Chesterton speculates the apostles made funny, even ridiculous remarks. He did not want to offend them by laughing in their faces. So, He ran into the mountains holding His sides and letting the laughter come out in steady bursts. If Jesus had given us an eighth sacrament, it might have been the Sacrament of Laughter. He would have enjoyed Locke's definition of laughter as "sudden glory."

Early Christians got the point. They were called hilares. That is the Latin adjective from which the word hilarious comes. They possessed a "certain holy hilarity." They went about their lives with a bounce in their steps and a smile on their faces. They were fun people to hang around with. They behaved as though they were forever at a party. They attracted millions of converts. The latter wanted a piece of that party. Wouldn't you? (William Barclay)

When Beethoven wrote his Ode to Joy, he might have been thinking of the joyful news of Jesus. So, smile often. Let people sense Jesus does make a serious difference in your life. Worship God on Sunday and smile with Him through the week.

The authentic way of finding joy is by focusing on the three letters of the word. J: place Jesus first. O: place others second. Y: place yourself last. (Unknown)

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
28 Ordinary Time

Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Wearing the Clothes of Christ

This week the church will celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the patron of our parish. So, who was St. Ignatius of Antioch? Usually, when people hear the name St. Ignatius, they think of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits in the sixteenth century. Our patron, Ignatius of Antioch, lived about 1,500 years before this. He was, therefore, one of the early Fathers of the Christian Church. He was bishop of Antioch in Syria, the largest Roman city outside of Rome. Antioch became one of the early centers of Christianity after the Christians were driven from Jerusalem. In fact, you might remember that it was at Antioch that the followers of Jesus were called Christians for the first time. This was not just a new faith. It was a new way. The followers of Jesus would embrace a new way of life, a life of sacrificial love, the life of Jesus Christ.

Ignatius would have been among the second generation of these followers, being born around 50 AD and dying about 117 AD. This was a time when the Church was rapidly spreading throughout the Roman Empire. It was a time when the basic beliefs of the Church were beginning to be codified. It was also a time when persecution against the Church began in earnest. It was both an exciting time and a difficult time for Ignatius to be the leader of the largest Christian Community of the East.

In his teachings, Ignatius spoke about the sacred and human dimensions of the Church. He wrote about bishops and priests, and about the holiness of matrimony. Even though the Christian Church at Antioch was probably larger than the Church in Rome, he spoke about the pre-eminence of Rome, because Peter went to Rome and died there, giving to his successors the charisma of the leader of the Apostles.

It is in the writings of St. Ignatius that we first come upon two terms that are fundamental parts of our religious language. Here we first read the term Catholic in referring to the church. The word Catholic means universal. All people, from all lands, are called to the Church. It is also in Ignatius’ writings that we first come upon the word Eucharist. The Eucharist is the action of the community at prayer united to its head Jesus. The community gives thanks to God, Eucharist, by offering the Body and Blood of the Lord to the Father.

Ignatius gave witness to Christ not just by what he wrote, but by dying for the Lord in the witness of martyrdom. When the emperor Domitian began openly persecuting the Christians, Ignatius wrote that they should remain strong in their witness to Jesus. They should become martyrs. His time came when he was brought before the Romans at Antioch, then condemned to death in the Flavian Amphitheater in Rome, the Colosseum. During the long trip to Rome, Ignatius wrote his seven most famous works. He did his best to convince the wealthier Christians to refrain from bribing the Romans to let him go free. He pleaded with them in the words you find a bit abbreviated on the cover of our bulletin and parish stationary, "I am the wheat of God. I must be ground by the teeth of the lions into flour. I must become the pure bread of Christ." He died at Rome as a true bishop and martyr.

St. Ignatius of Antioch lived his Christianity. In the words of the Early Church, he was clothed in the Lord. This takes us to the Gospel reading for this Sunday, the parable of the King’s banquet.

The gospel talks about the wedding banquet that a king prepares for his son, only to have the invited guests refuse to come and even mistreat his servants. The King then invites strangers to the meal, who have a great time. Then, in what really is a second parable, the king spots a man without the proper wedding garment. He throws the man out into the streets, away from the Banquet of Love, where there will be a weeping a gnashing of teeth. 

Perhaps you might wonder, as I know I have, "Why is the Host so upset over this man's clothes?" After all, this is a traveler or a vagrant. How can he be expected to have a fine wedding garment? That would be missing the point for the sake of the detail, something we always have to be careful of regarding scripture. This parable is not about wearing clothes. It is about wearing Jesus Christ. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ," St. Paul tells the Romans, and the Galatians, and the Colossians, and the Ephesians. The man who came without the proper clothes is the Christian in name only, who refuses to put on Jesus Christ throughout his life. This is the person who accepts the invitation of the Lord, but refuses to exercise his or her responsibility in the Christian community. 

We are invited to share the intimacy of the Banquet of Heaven. We are invited into God's presence. God expects us to wear our Christianity. The way we respond to His Love must be evident to the world. People should know that we are Christians by the way we live our lives.

One of the most edifying aspects of being a priest is the continual exposure we have to the active Christianity so many of you embrace. People will call me to tell me about sick or hurting parishioners. I will go to the homes of sick or elderly and find others there cheerfully caring for them. Parishioners are always mentioning that someone needs our help. People are always asking me if there are any particular families they can sponsor not only at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also throughout the year. We have many families in this parish that have adopted a child about to be institutionalized. And anytime there has been any sort of crisis in one of our families, people have always come forward to offer to take care of the children, cook for the family, etc. I have received many calls during the pandemic from people asking if there are parishioners who need help. I also know that there is a wide range of people in this parish that I merely have to say "we need a special favor" for a struggling family or a brilliant Teen that wants to go away to college, and so forth, and they will gladly help out. These people wear their Christianity.

As Christians we know that none of this is exceptional. We know that cannot just say we are Christians. We have to live our Christianity. Now this living of our Christianity may not always be public, but, and this sounds like a contradiction but isn't, living our Christianity is always evident, even when not public. For example, a senior citizen may be very generous to someone and no one, not even the recipient of the generosity, knows who is providing for the person. However, that senior citizen's life, his or her concern, his or her conversation, is not self-centered but shows a concern for others. He wears his Christianity without bragging about his generosity. 

St. Ignatius put on the garment of the Lord. In his case, that garment was the white alb that martyrs wore when they entered the Colosseum to meet the wild beasts. In our case, the garment of the Lord is not as dramatic, but it is still a garment of witnessing to the presence of Christ. The garment might be a dress or shirt that was soiled when we cared for others. The garment is always one with a bulls-eye on it. People at war with God will always try shooting down those who belong to Him. Some of our college freshmen have already experienced this when they refuse to join in the drinking and the drugs.

Wearing our Christianity is a solution to the problem of polarization in our society. When we identify ourselves first as Christians rather than as members of this or that political party or as liberal or conservative, then our primary mode of action will be to treat others with the kindness of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is the solution to all our society’s needs. If we really want to heal our country’s ills, we need to wear the garment of the Lord. 

Today we pray for an active Christianity. May we truly put on Christ, first in our homes, among God's people, and in our world. Like our patron, Ignatius of Antioch, may we live and die wearing the wedding garment of Christ.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
28 Ordinary Time

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
28 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
28 Ordinary Time

Today the Church presents for our consideration the wonderful parable of the royal wedding banquet. This is also the time of year when we are thinking about the harvest. These two things fit quite well together because a great wedding banquet given by a king is certainly comparable to the bounty of nature at harvest time.

We all know what a parable is. It is a story which catches the attention, but it is also one which works on at least two levels and so has a hidden message. Usually the characters in the parable can be compared with us today or to the people to whom the parable is addressed.

The message of this parable of the royal wedding banquet is clear. God invites the people of Israel to his wedding banquet in heaven but despite the fact that they have enjoyed his favour over so many generations they do not come. He repeatedly invites them but they completely fail to take up his invitation.

The prophets who have brought the invitation on many occasions have been ignored so God punishes the people and invites others to his banquet instead. The Chosen People have ignored his invitation so God invites all the other people of the world instead.

This story told by Jesus is certainly good news for us. We are Gentiles and we have taken up God’s invitation and we are here at the great banquet he has prepared for us. Here in this mass, in this Eucharist, we celebrate the great love that God has shown us. We are gathered round his table and we feast on the most precious gifts he could give us.

We recognise that this parable is good news for us and so we rejoice, but there is also a warning contained in the story and we should be sure we understand it. You will remember the man who is found not to be wearing a wedding garment and who is slung out by the bouncers. What is all that about?

Well, the wedding garment is also a symbol. It represents our new life in Christ. When we accepted God’s invitation, we left the old life of sin and began to live a new life of love and goodness. It is as if we left off our old clothes and put on new ones. We always feel much better wearing new clothes. We know we look good and often that helps us to act better. So, what about this man who is found wearing his old clothes at the royal wedding? The king is angry and has him thrown out. He represents us when we sin.

In those days the tradition was that when a poor man was invited to a royal feast and he could not afford a festive garment then the king would provide him one. So, there was no excuse for this man to be without a wedding garment; that is surely why in the parable it says: ‘the man was silent’. He could give no reason because there was none.

When we answer God’s call and come to the waters of Baptism God forgives all our sins and opens up a new way of life for us. We begin to live a new life in Christ. In the Baptismal ceremony this is celebrated by washing us with water and clothing us with a white garment. Traditionally no baby is baptised wearing pink or blue, but only in a white garment. However, these new clothes of goodness and truth and love and all the other Christian virtues are put aside when we sin. It is as if we have taken off the new clothes put back on the old clothes of badness and deceit and hate and all the unchristian vices.

The man in the parable represents us when we sin. It is as if we have taken off our baptismal robe and left it aside and are now wearing the old clothes of our former life. Of course, all of us sin. All of us from time to time lapse back in to old ways. But as soon as we realise this we must come to our senses and reclothe ourselves in Christ. We must, for our own sake, return to God immediately to seek forgiveness which he will freely grant us.

This is one of the great joys of being a Christian that we know we can always return to our forgiving and loving Lord. So, we are happy to be invited to this Table of the Lord and to share his banquet not just because it consists of the fruits of the earth in bread and wine but because these represent the unselfish love of God’s Son Jesus.

At this time of the year we are thinking of the harvest because, as this Gospel reading for today reminds us, we celebrate a harvest not only of fruit and vegetables and animals but a harvest of souls won for God. We ourselves are the real harvest. We ourselves have been gathered up and welcomed by God into his Kingdom to enjoy his lavish banquet in heaven. And this mass is, if you like, a real foretaste of that heavenly banquet.

Our food is very simple, just bread and wine, but because we are gathered together as his Church and because we do what Jesus did at the Last Supper; he makes these simple gifts into his body and blood and invites us to feed on him in this Eucharist. But we have to listen to the warning in the parable and keep ourselves pure and holy just as God wants. We must resist sin and evil and keep faith with God.

The last words of that parable are: ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’. Yes, many people are called to share God’s life but at the end of time when we have to give an account of our lives, he will choose only those found to be still wearing their wedding garment; only those still wearing the clothes of new life in Christ.

Anyone who has cast off the Christian way of life will have shown that they do not want to live with God in love. This warning is for us all. But we rejoice because we have taken notice of this warning, we have listened to the words of Jesus and we believe in his message and we want to share his life.

We want to keep on these new clothes of love and peace and truth and goodness. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the First Reading: ‘We exult and we rejoice that he has saved us; for the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain’ and on us his people!

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