Saints of God, the Lord be with you!
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, “I don’t like wedding receptions.”
As a Franciscan, I own neither a suit nor a Roman collar. I never bring a plus one (and when I did it was my 85-year-old friend, Sr. Kate), and once I find that little piece of paper with the number on it and make my way toward the table, I can see the look of disappointment on the faces of my tablemates. Nothing puts an end to a good time quite like sitting with a priest. Even my own family says this! So, today’s Gospel according to Matthew (22:1-14), which depicts heaven as a wedding banquet following a life spent as a disciple of the Lord, is difficult for me.
I find much more Good News in our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah (25:6-10) where the Lord provides “a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy rich food and pure choice wines.” The fact that Isaiah uses those words twice hints at the lavishness, generosity, and sensuousness of what we can expect. Death is destroyed, and tears are wiped dry; now that is something to look forward to! And let’s not forget the mouth-watering food and choice wine! All this is ours since while alive here on earth, we look to the Lord to save us.
We are being saved since God became human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Incarnation is a wedding in itself: Two, God and the human, become One, in time and forever in eternity. At the Ascension, Jesus did not leave his humanity behind, but took his human nature and his human history with him. This Jesus, God become human, now sits at “the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Jesus will judge us on how we have shown our faith, or in other words, given our faith “flesh.” We do this by living as if we are already in heaven by serving one another through acts of charity.
In our second reading, St. Paul (Philippians 4:12-14; 19-20) is reminding us that no matter what the circumstances of our life are, whether in riches or in poverty, in sickness or in health, Christ is with us. The good news is that even death does not end the loving bond Christ has with us.
Every Mass is a wedding banquet, a feast of the unbreakable bond Christ has with us and indeed all of creation. We feast of the richest of foods, the very body of Christ and the choicest of wines, His precious Blood. It is Christ himself who becomes united with us and invites us to become united with one another. This unity we experience here at Mass is a foretaste of what we will experience in the fullness of heaven. At this wedding feast which we call Mass, we are invited, changed, empowered, and sent to invite others.
So, who will be your plus one next weekend?
Peace and All Good,