Bible Cross-References
by Jason

Luke 8:10 – The disciples were granted the ability to understand Jesus’ parables while many others were not.

Revelation 19:6-9 – Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Luke 14:16-24 – Parable as recounted by Luke.

John 3:29-30 – Jesus is described as the bridegroom.

2 Corinthians 11:2 – We are betrothed to Christ.

Romans 10:21 – To Israel I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.

John 5:40 – You refuse to come that you may have life.

Luke 13:34 – Jerusalem kills the prophets.

Matthew 24:38-39 – Before the flood they were eating and drinking and suddenly were swept away.

Revelation 22:17 – The invitation to drink is extended.

Revelation 7:9 – A great multitude is gathered before the throne (we can both be in this group and invite others to join it!)

Revelation 3:18, Revelation 19:8 – Only the garments from the Lord are acceptable.
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Inductive Bible Study

Lector Prep

by Greg Warnusz
Lector's Notes

First Reading

Notice the universal scope of what he predicts: a feast for all people, doing away with death for all people, wiping away tears from every face, removing the reproach from the whole earth. It took a courageous prophet to speak of a God whose care extended beyond a single people, when that single people prided itself on its elect status. That, more than its reference to a banquet, makes this an important passage. Of course, emphasize the words that tell the scope of God’s care: all, every, whole.

Second Reading

In proclaiming this aloud, be sure you accentuate the contrasts between the various levels of comfort and need that Paul recalls. Unless the preachers in your congregation have been concentrating on the recent series of readings from Philippians, the typical listener might let this go in one ear and out the other. But there’s a one-liner within these verses that, if you accent it enough, might be just what someone needs to hear this Sunday. It’s this: I can do all things in him [Christ] who strengthens me. Try not to let this gem get lost.

Intro to Readings

First Reading

A banquet of food so good it’s indescribable, an end to death, and a welcome, on the Jews’ most exclusvie site, for all the earth’s people. These are the surprises God is preparing, in this prophet’s vision.

Second Reading

From Paul’s farewell to a much-loved congregation, we’ll hear a summary of what Christ has let him accomplish, and of what he wishes for his friends.

Gospel

Saint Matthew continues to explore the rejection of Jesus by most Jews, on behalf of Jews who had accepted him.

Fr. Fleming
Fr. Hawkswell
Fr. Hoisington
Fr. Kavanaugh, SJ
Fr. Ligato
Msgr. Pellegrino
Fr. Senior, CP
Fr. Siciliano, OP
Fr. Smiga
Fr. John Thornhill, sm
Jamie Waters
Joannie Watson
and more


Fr. Tony’s Homilies

Overview
1st & 2nd Reading
Gospel Exegesis
Life Messages
Homily Anecdotes
Illustrations
Jokes of the Week


Faith Sharing
Discussion
Bible Study

Over 50 questions each week from which to pick and choose.

Larry Broding
Fr. Eamon Tobin
Fr. Clement Thibodeau
Vince Contreras

INTROFIRSTPSALMSECONDGOSPELCHURCH FATHERS
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First Reading

commentary

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.— Isaiah 25:6

EXCERPT: In the feast that God will prepare for all nations (verse 6), He will provide succulent food and fine wine from the choicest grapes. It is a symbolic reference to the eschatological (end times) sacred meal that God will provide; it will surpass anything on earth that humans can imagine. —Michal Hunt

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Responsorial Psalm

Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage. — Psalm 23:4

EXCERPT: Even amid trials and sufferings, the psalmist feels a sense of security as he trusts in God to lead and protect him. He knows, despite the plans of his enemies, that God the Divine Host has prepared “a table” (verse 5) for him when the time comes for him to enter into God’s eternal rest. —Michal Hunt

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Second Reading

I can do all things in him who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:13

EXCERPT: In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius of Loyola taught his followers, “We should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one … but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.” — Sr. Mary McGlone

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Gospel

Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ — Matthew 22:8-9

EXCERPT:  Jesus said that prostitutes and sinners would be welcomed ahead of the self-righteous. The symbol of the meal, from banquet to beans on toast, to Eucharist, is a reminder of the great mission that is entrusted to us as disciples. As the land belongs to God and we are the stewards, so too, all food belongs to God. — Sr. Patricia

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commentary

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.— Isaiah 25:6

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First Reading

Isaiah 25:6-10A

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Reflections

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Hope for the abandoned

FIRST READING—Images of a banquet are used to sum up the blessings that God’s people will experience on the last day. Notice that this heavenly banquet is prepared not only for the people of Israel, but for all people who hear and answer God’s call. At this feast, the “veil” or all that separates us from God will be lifted and the spider’s “web” that imprisons us in ignorance and isolation will be brushed aside. Tears, guilt and shame will be replaced with joy.

The reading is intended to give hope to a people who may have felt abandoned by God because of some bad things that recently happened to them. Isaiah also speaks of a time of restoration. The day will come when God will return and renew the broken covenant. This will take place symbolically on a mountain, just as the original covenant was made with Moses on a mountain.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

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FIRST READING—Go to Gospel reflection.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Commentary used with permission.

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

The Lord will prepare a feast for everyone

FIRST READING—Jerusalem is the sacred city of God; it is built on Mount Zion, a mountain holy unto the Lord. Under King David and his successors, this mountain becomes the sign for Mount Sinai, the mountain of the Covenant between God and God’s people. The prophets, including Isaiah, make few references to Sinai as the place of the encounter with God. Zion has become that place in their minds. To say that the nations will come to this mountain is a symbolic way of saying that the nations will come to Jerusalem which is built on Mount Zion; that is, to share in the Covenant along with the Jewish people. Israel borrowed from its northern Canaanite neighbors the notion ofabanquet or feast as a sign of the bond between their God and themselves. For ancient peoples, who almost always lived on the edge of starvation, the banquet was a splendid symbol for the abundance and power of divine love, divine protection,and reward.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Universal communion

FIRST READING—God’s great festival takes place on the mountaintop, Jerusalem. The whole world is invited to enjoy the best creation has to offer. God prepares this feast for people who have had little to rejoice or celebrate in the recent past. As Isaiah paints the scene, it’s as if God takes people from a funeral procession and leads them into a surprise party. They all arrive with veiled faces, the sign that they are in mourning, most likely for their own who have died in battle. The fact that all peoples are so veiled is a subtle condemnation of war; no one is the victor because, in the end, all are shrouded in sorrow. But God will destroy that veil and the web woven over all nations.

What is the web woven over all the nations? In this context, it is the web of violence and destruction, an atmosphere that, once instituted, seems impossible to escape.

The concluding phrase sums up the first two: God will destroy death forever. That phrase is one of the sources of the Orthodox and Byzantine Easter proclamation: “By death, Christ conquered death!” Death, which is understood as the loss of all living relationship, will be no more.

The banquet on this mountain includes an encounter with God. It sounds like even more than the beatific vision. The encounter Isaiah describes is one in which God, like a mother, wipes away the tears from every human face. Pope Francis describes the joy of this encounter saying, “How wonderful is the certainty that each human life is not adrift in the midst of hopeless chaos, in a world ruled by pure chance or endlessly recurring cycles!” (“Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” #65).

The second dimension of the great promise depicted in this scene is that God will remove all reproach. No more guilt or fear of punishment. The love of God, which overcomes death, also overcomes sin. God can heal every breach of relationship. Sinners at this banquet will look at their past not with shame but as a revelation of the depth of the love of God who reached out to them at their worst and transformed them into all they could be.

This passage sings of the universal communion to which God invites everybody. Francis tells us that the key to human fulfillment is communion with God, with others and with all creatures. This is our potential to live in the very dynamism of the Trinity (LS #240). Isaiah and Francis invite us to dream, to contemplate, to try to imagine what it is that God offers and hopes for us. The more we imagine it, the more we will be able to put it into practice. Then again, no matter how great our imagination and how broad the communion we experience, the Lord’s mountain feast promises more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Think BIG!

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentaries

Sunday Readingscommentary

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The Eschatological Banquet of the Just

In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah describes the eschatological banquet of the just in the heavenly Jerusalem.  Isaiah offers a song of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.  He has graciously prepared a feast in His Divine Presence for the nations of the earth.  It is the destiny of every person to join with the Lord God in eternal communion, but it is a destiny every person must choose to accept or reject.  Our acceptance of the invitation to attend this heavenly feast is our belief in the saving power of Jesus Christ, who is the only way to the Father (Jn 14:6).

Exploring the Text

Symbolic image of sacred meal

Drinking wine is one of the symbolic images of the prophets depicting Israel’s relationship or lack of a relationship with God.  In the Old Testament, drinking wine in the Banquet of the Just symbolizes Israel’s covenant union with God (see the chart on the symbolic images of the prophets).

In the feast that God will prepare for all nations (verse 6), He will provide succulent food and fine wine from the choicest grapes.  It is a symbolic reference to the eschatological (end times) sacred meal that God will provide; it will surpass anything on earth that humans can imagine.  The promised sacred meal in verses 6-10 prefigures the Eucharistic banquet instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper on Mount Zion.  He provided the divine nourishment of His own Body and Blood when He instituted the Eucharist as a present reality for the New Covenant Church, and it continues as a reality made present for New Covenant believes of every generation in the sacrifice of the Mass.  However, it is also the pledge of future glory in anticipation of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb in the eschatological feast at the end of time (Rev 19:9).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Symbolism of Mount Zion

The First Reading is a song of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord God.  He has prepared a feast for all the nations of the earth on Mount Zion.  Mount Zion is a physical site on the southeastern slope of the city of Jerusalem occupied by King David when he conquered Jerusalem and where Jesus’ Last Supper took place.  Later “Zion” came to be associated with the covenant people in communion with God to whom they offered sacrifice and worship at the holy Temple on Mount Moriah.  However, in this passage, Mount Zion is a symbol of the Church in the heavenly Jerusalem: But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church of first-born sons, enrolled as citizens of heaven. You have come to God Himself, the supreme Judge, and to the spirits of the upright who have been made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a New Covenant, and to purifying blood which pleads more insistently than Abel’s (Heb 12:22-24).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Symbolism of the veil

7 On this mountain, he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; 8 he will destroy death forever.

“The veil” refers to sin that separates humans from fellowship with God; sin brings both physical and spiritual death.  The promise in verses 7-8 is that God will remove the barrier of sin.  Jesus fulfilled the promise when He offered up His life on the altar of the Cross.  The moment Jesus gave up His life, the curtain as thick as a man’s hand that separated the dwelling place of God in the Holy of Holies from Temple’s Holy Place was torn apart from top to bottom.  It was a divine sign symbolizing unlimited access to God the Father through the accepted unblemished sacrifice of God the Son (Mt 27:51; Mk 15:37; Lk 23:45).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE):
Sandro Botticelli's The Wedding Feast, 1483
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Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage. — Psalm 23:4

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Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

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Reflections

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—God’s shepherding care for his people is celebrated in both pastoral and banquet imagery.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Commentary used with permission.

Commentaries

Rev. J. M. Neale, D.D. Commentary on the Psalms
Commentary on Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

1 The Lord is my shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing.

In the last Psalm we heard of the Passion of Christ:* now we hear of the effects of that Passion. It was because He stood in need of everything, that we lack nothing. And take it either way, both are beautiful: The Lord is my Shepherd, so our version; The Lord governs me, so the Vulgate. And think of the Psalm first of all as uttered by David long before his combat with Goliath, “as he was following the ewes great with young ones.” What he then said in the ignorance and simplicity of his pastoral life, that he found true through his persecutions, through his wars, through all his troubles to the very end. These are nearly the first words of David: and among the last words of David are, “Yet hath He made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” But it is in two different ways that those two different families—the “travellers,” to use the mediæval expression, (D. C.) and “they that have comprehended,”—are to use this verse. Our Shepherd—we, the travellers—our Shepherd putteth forth His own sheep into all kinds of dangers, by the lions’ dens, by the mountains of the leopards; and though wherever He putteth them forth, He Himself, according to His own most sweet promise, has been before them, yet they have to wander in wastes and wilds, far away from the comfort and safeguard of any visible fold. But with them the more beautiful flocks that feed upon the celestial mountains, the Lord is their Shepherd too: He has brought them home from the danger of wild beasts, as it is written, “No lion shall be there, neither shall any ravenous beast go up thereon:”* He has brought them out of the very sound of their voices; He has brought them into that fold,* not one of the stakes whereof shall ever be removed. And yet both they and we may say, (L.) The Lord is my Shepherd. The Shepherd delivers us continually from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear; the Shepherd King feeds them for evermore in pastures, of which the human heart cannot conceive the beauty. Therefore can I lack nothing. Because that Shepherd lacked everything; because He had not where to lay His head; because there was no room for Him in the inn; because He sat thirsty on the well; because He was taken even as He was in the ship; because He was an hungered in the wilderness; therefore shall we lack nothing,—His need supplying our wants,* as His righteousness atones for our guilt. “What can God deny us, when He has given us His own Son? asks S. Paul: and what can the Son of God deny us, when He gives us Himself? He gives us His Body, He gives us His Soul, He gives us His Divinity, and will He deny us bread? Oh, fear and cowardice, unworthy of faith! God had not as yet given Himself to be our food, and had only revealed this mystery to the same David, who had so often suffered from poverty, and at once He scoffs at it, and says for us that which we knew not how to say for ourselves. And what is that? The Lord is my Shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing. One thing follows the other. The rich shall fall into want, they who put their confidence in inconstant possessions, to-day possessed, to-morrow lost; but the poor who betakes himself to that Lord, Who is Lord of all things, shall have enough and to spare, as saith the same Prophet, ‘The rich men do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want anything that is good.’ ”

2 He shall feed me in a green pasture: and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort.

“Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” And with what refreshment?* The green pasture: the waters of comfort. In its widest and broadest sense, the green pasture is the Church. Green, as constantly refreshed with the dew of the Holy Ghost: green, as shaded from the burning sun of temptation. And notice how it follows,* “There was much green grass in the place: so the men sat down,”* There we have the freshness and verdure of—there also we have the rest to be found in—the Church, But the greater number of the Fathers refer this Psalm altogether to the Sacraments. The waters of comfort, therefore, are the waters of Baptism; just as presently we shall find the oil to be Confirmation, and the cup to be the Blessed Eucharist. But Rupert takes these* waters of comfort to be the rivers of pleasure which are at God’s right hand; of comfort imperishable, unchangeable, eternal. Lysimachus deplored that for a draught of water he had lost a kingdom: whoso drinketh of this water,* which proceedeth from the throne of God and of the Lamb, (L.) shall reign for ever and ever. And these waters of comfort were purchased for us by that bitter cry of our Lord on the Cross, “I thirst.” Therefore, because of that thirst,* ye shall draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation. And these wells or fountains, S. Bernard says, are five in number:* four belonging to the earthly paradise, the four wounds of our Lord while yet living in the flesh: the fifth, which pertains to the celestial land, the wound inflicted on His side. And they beautifully interpret, of these fountains, that which is said in Genesis of the four rivers of Eden. The first “compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good.” Havilah is by interpretation,* “He that suffers pain;” and by means of the wound in our Lord’s right hand, the gold produced by the region of pain will be good indeed. The second encompassed the whole land of Ethiopia; that land which originally lay under a curse; as the wound of our Lord’s left hand may be said to have turned the curse arising from the sin of man—the left hand being the type of sin—into a blessing: and so of the rest. Mediæval writers rejoiced to heap together all the characteristics, real or feigned, of various rivers: of the Cephissus, which makes the fleece of black sheep white: of the Xanthus, which turns them red; and so on. There are not wanting those who understand the waters of comfort of Holy Scripture: (D. C.) and quote appositely that saying of S. Paul’s, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our consolation.”*

3 He shall convert my soul: and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake.

And now notice how admirably the miracle of the passage of Jordan figures the effect of Baptism; (G.) its savour of life unto life, and of death unto death. That part which remained nearest to the fountain head “rose up on an heap,”—that is, those who remain true to their Lord in Baptism are drawn up towards heaven: that part which ran into the Dead Sea “failed and was cut off,” having no more connection with the original source of the stream, (G.) but utterly lost in those dark and noisome waters. And notice also how admirably the usual course of God’s dealing with a Christian soul is here set forth. In the last verse we have Baptism: we are to understand the usual sad falls after Baptism. And then it follows, He shall convert my soul. Never let us be afraid, because the word has been so sadly misused and misapplied, to dwell boldly on this truth, and to enjoin it with all our might,—that in most instances a second grace is necessary after that of Baptism has been given and has been abused. And then, when this grace of conversion has been given, and has been received and acted upon, (L.) then He shall lead us forth in the paths of righteousness. Others see in this verse an admirable declaration of the blessings of the New Covenant. When the waters of comfort had once been opened, then the servants of God should be led forth in the paths of righteousness: for before the institution of that blessed Sacrament, the greatest Saints were only led forth in the paths of the ceremonial law. I cannot do better than quote the admirable words of Lorinus on the subject: “They,” says he, “were led forth in the paths of ceremonies,* carnal commandments, the works of the law; which could not justify,* and made nothing perfect.* ‘But in His days,’ says David,* ‘shall righteousness flourish:’ He,* namely, Who is the Lord our Righteousness;* the Righteous Man Who is raised up from the east;* the Righteous Man Whom the ‘clouds rain down;’* Who is made righteousness to us; Who came to teach us righteousness; Who Himself fulfilleth all righteousness; Who goeth in the way of righteousness; Who, finally, alone justifies and leads to blessedness them who walk according to the laws that He has prescribed to them, and teaches the Divine knowledge of the things which have to be believed as well as done.* These are the ‘ways of wisdom,’ of which Solomon speaks; these are the ‘right paths’ to which he invites.” For His Name’s sake. And here once more is the Name that is above every name; the Name, “great, wonderful, and holy,” which is to be the strength of God’s people here, and the everlasting subject of their praise hereafter.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me.

Here we have the reason why this Psalm is one of those employed in the Office for the Dead. And see how beautifully the whole corresponds to it. The grave, the fold, in which the Lord’s sheep are penned safely till the morning of the Resurrection. And the Shepherd Himself had tasted of the same trials which He permits His sheep to know. The green pasture will be, as ancient Liturgies so often make it, the state of blessed souls, that have departed out of this world, but have not yet been admitted to the Beatific Vision. “They have departed,” says James of Edessa,* in his Liturgy, “with true hope, and the confidence of the faith which is in Thee, from this world of straits, from this life of misery, to Thee. Remember them and receive them, and cause them to rest in the bosom of Abraham, in tabernacles of light and rest, in shining dwelling-places, in a world of pleasures, in the city Jerusalem, where there is no place for sorrow or for war.” “They have been set free,” says Ignatius BarMaadn,* of Antioch, “they have been set free from this temporal life, according to the sentence constituted by their iniquity, and have returned to Thee, O God, as to the first Almighty cause. Spare them by Thy mercy; reckon them in the number of Thine elect; cover them with the bright cloud of Thy saints; cause them to dwell in the blessed habitations of Thy kingdom; to be invited to Thy banquet in the region of exultation and joy, where there is no place of sorrow or misery.” Then the “convert my soul” must be taken of that final conversion, when sin snail be destroyed for ever, as it is written, “He that is dead is freed from sin.”* “The paths of righteousness,” what are they but those streets of gold, of which it is written, “The nations of them which are saved shall walk in it?”* The table will be at the eternal wedding feast; and then how does the “All the days of my life,” and “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,” rivet the Psalm as it were to this, as its natural meaning! But to return to our verse. Why the valley of the shadow of death? What Eusebius taught long ago,* let Laud on the scaffold explain at greater length: “Lord, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can come to see Thee. But it is but umbra mortis, a shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature; but Thou, Lord, by Thy goodness, hast broken the jaws and the power of death.” Yes: our Lord passed through the valley of death; (A.) we through the valley of the shadow of death. He tasted of death, that we might never taste of it; He died, that we might fall asleep. Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me. Holy men have discussed at length what is the difference between these two. Some will have it that the rod denotes God’s punishments for lighter offences; (R.) the staff, (B.) His chastisements for heavier sins. But it is better to take the one of His punishment when we go wrong, (Lu.) the other of His support when we go right. Thus they will answer to the wine and the oil in the parable of the Good Samaritan;* the wine the salutary chastisement, the oil the no less salutary comfort. But there is yet a deeper meaning in it than this: the rod and the staff together make the blessed Cross;* just as the two sticks that the widow was gathering have always been considered typical of the same tree of salvation. And it may well be said that, (Z.) in our valley of the shadow of death,* that Cross is to be our comfort on which our Lord passed through His own valley of misery. For notice how the two join together: For Thou art with me—“I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ”—Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me—“and Him crucified.”* There are other beautiful significations for these words. Some will have the rod to signify the Incarnation:* (“There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse:”) and by the staff the Passion: as if, in our passage through death, we require both the one and the other to console us; according to that saying,* “Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to praise Thee.” And yet once more: still taking the staff for the Cross, we may understand the rod of the Virgin Mother, here joined with the Cross itself, because it is written. “Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His mother.” Once more: Dionysius regards the verse as the thanksgiving of the blessed for the loving kindness which has led them through all the dangers and miseries of this world; and thus beautifully writes: (D. C.) “The rod and the staff with which in the Way Thou didst visit me, have brought me to this celestial consolation. For corrections inflicted for sin, here spoken of under the name of the rod, so purify the soul, as to unite it to the Divine light. And the glorious consolations, bestowed by God upon earth, enkindle the soul to desire the perfect sweetness of their country. But it might seem that this verse cannot apply to the blessed, because it implies their remembering in Paradise what they suffered on earth; whereas it is written in Isaiah,* ‘The former troubles shall be forgotten, shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.’ We answer that the Saints in their country do remember the ills which they suffered in their journey,* in so far as such a remembrance is to them a matter of joy. For Christ in His most glorious Body has retained the marks of His Five Wounds, not only that in the Day of Judgment He may manifest to the ungrateful that which He suffered for them, but that the Saints in their country may for ever behold that which He endured for their salvation, and by this means may be inflamed with inestimable praise and giving of thanks.”

5 Thou shalt prepare a table before me against them that trouble me: thou hast anointed my head with oil, and my cup shall be full.

By far the greater number of commentators take it—and how could it be otherwise?—of the Blessed Eucharist. “This is the table,” (Z.) says S. Cyril, (C.) in his Catechetical Lectures, (B.) “prepared by God,* in opposition to the table prepared before him by Satan;” clearly meaning that,* before the Advent of Christ, the enticements and allurements of Satan to sin were, so to speak, a table of poisonous delicacies, to which there was then no such remedy as the table of the Lord. S. Cyprian and the Bishops assembled with him at one of the Councils of Carthage, exhort all those who were likely to be called to suffer martyrdom to prepare themselves for it by the reception of the Holy Eucharist.* “Those whom we excite,” says the Synodal letter, “and exhort to the battle, let us not leave weak and unarmed, but let us fortify with the protection of the Body and Blood of Christ. And since the Eucharist is celebrated to this end, that it may be a safeguard to them who receive it, let us arm with the defence of the Lord’s banquet those whom we desire to make safe against the adversary.” Then the sense of against them that trouble me may be threefold. Either in opposition to their wishes, and in defiance of their endeavours; or that we by receiving it may be strengthened in opposition to them; or that they, beholding the delicacies God provides for us, may be the more enraged and thrown into despair. They give multitudes of instances in which the reception of the Blessed Sacrament has at once set free from some particular temptation; like the story related of S. Macarius, who delivered one who was possessed by a devil,* and told her that the reason of the demon acquiring that power over her was her having abstained for so long a time from receiving.

Nevertheless, there are not wanting those who understand this table of Holy Scripture: as Bede,* S. Jerome, and Peter of Blois. Others, again, take it of the remembrance of the Lord’s Passion; but the most singular interpretation is that of S. Remigius, who takes the table to refer to the rod and the staff mentioned just before, as if David said, Whatever other consolation I might have looked for, Thou hast prepared this; the chastisement that for the present seemeth not joyous, but grievous, but afterwards yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness, which fruit is here called the table. Gerhohus, after dwelling on the blessedness of the Holy Eucharist, well concludes by quoting the prayer ascribed to S. Ambrose: “I pray Thee, O Lord, by that holy and quickening mystery of Thy Body and Blood, by which we are daily fed in Thy Church, of which we are daily given to drink, by which we are cleansed and sanctified, and made partakers of Thy Divinity, give me Thy holy virtues, filled with which I may approach to Thine altar, so that these celestial Sacraments may be to me salvation and life. For Thou hast said,* by Thy holy and blessed mouth, ‘The bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever.’ O most sweet Bread, heal the taste of my heart, that I may perceive the sweetness of Thy love; cleanse it from all languor, that I may be conscious of no sweetness but Thine. O most pure Bread, having all delight in Thyself, which always refreshest us and never failest, let my heart feed upon Thee, and let the very innermost parts of my soul be filled with Thy sweetness.” And then he tells us how the Chaldæans still make out three bands against us:* the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; and how each and all of these are to be repulsed by the Sacrament.

Thou hast anointed my head with oil. And here again the commentators devise all sorts of explanations, as indeed Holy Scripture itself invites them to do. But the best and truest seems to be that which sees in this oil both royal and priestly unction: according to that saying,* “Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests;” and again, “ye are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” Others again, (Z.) not unfitly,* understand it of Confirmation: which indeed suits well with the mention of Baptism in the second verse,* and also that of the Blessed Eucharist in this. Or mystically: it is the boast of every Christian,—“Thou anointest my head with oil.” For so S. Bernard understands that command,—Thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head. For what is our Head but our Blessed Lord and Saviour? and what is oil but the graces of the Holy Ghost, That Spirit not given by measure unto Him? And there may also be a reference to the unction of our Lord by the hands of S. Mary Magdalene.

And my cup shall be full. Or, as it is in the Vulgate: (L.) And my inebriating chalice, how excellent it is!* And here again we see that glorious and excellent chalice,* filled, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot. And S. Cyprian even uses this verse as an argument against the Aquarii, who used water in the oblation: “for how can water,” says he,* “inebriate?” “With this cup,” cries Augustine, “were the martyrs inebriated, when, going forth to their passion, they recognised not those that belonged to them,—not their weeping wife, not their children, not their relations: while they gave thanks and said, (A.) I will take the Cup of salvation!”

6 But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

And here, as the conclusion of this Psalm of graces, (Ay.) comes the last and highest of all graces, that of final perseverance: the end and result of all the Sacraments. I will dwell in the house of the Lord. It may be taken in two senses: (P.) the religious as opposed to the secular life here; or the true life, the life that is life indeed, in the true house of the Lord hereafter. But why is it said, shall follow me, rather than, (Z.) shall go before me? For certainly we need that preventing grace of God, for which the Church prays, to remove obstacles, to face dangers, to overthrow difficulties. Because, say the Greek Fathers, the idea is that, though we of our own will and nature would forsake and forget God, (L.) He sends out after us, follows us, chases us, as it were, till He overtake us, and seizes us for Himself. We need not here enter into the disputes of the schools about prevenient, subsequent, co-operating, concomitant, grace. It suffices us to know what David so often declares, and the celebrated Council of Orange teaches from his words, that we need grace on every side, grace before and behind, grace on the right hand and on the left, if we ever hope to enter the kingdom of God at all. Prevenient and subsequent grace are beautifully set forth in the Canticles: when the Bride first says, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His,” and then, “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” The former being signified by the first verse, (D. C.) the latter by the second. That I may dwell: there we have the heavenly home-sickness; S. Paul’s desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better; the change of the light of grace, here often clouded and obscure, for the light of glory that can never be darkened, that can never fade away, that grows brighter and more perfect to ages of ages.*

SOURCE: A Commentary on the Psalms: from Primitive and Mediæval Writers and from the Various Office books and Hymns of the Roman, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Gallican, Greek, Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac rites by the Rev. J. M. Neale, D.D. (1869)
Sunday Readingscommentary and homily help

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Dwelling with the Lord

Two metaphors frame the Psalm Reading: The Lord as the Divine Shepherd and the Lord as the Divine Host of the sacred meal. Even amid trials and suffering, the psalmist feels a sense of security. He has confidence that, despite his earthly struggles, God the Divine Host has prepared a table for him where he will drink from the cup of salvation when the time comes for him to enter into God’s eternal rest.

Exploring the Text

Metaphor of Shepherd

In the Bible, and the secular literature of the ancient Near East, the role of a shepherd was often a metaphor for the king (2 Sam 5:2; Is 44:28; etc.).  It is the same symbolic image used to express the role of God, the Divine King, who is the protector and judge of His covenant people (Ps 28:9; Is 40:11; Ez 34:11-16).

Describing the aspects of shepherding, perhaps from David’s perspective as a shepherd in his youth, the inspired writer provides a picture of his relationship with God as he seeks to live a life of holiness (verses 2-3).  The Divine Shepherd guides the psalmist and the people, who are the sheep of God’s flock, with tenderness and compassion.  The Divine Shepherd takes into consideration the fears and weaknesses of His people.  He will not lead them near the fearful, raging rivers but by the quiet streams (sheep have a fear of drowning and will only drink from still waters).  His tender care gives the psalmist confidence that with God’s shepherding, he will reach the “green pastures” of God’s heavenly kingdom (1 Pt 5:4; Rev 7:17).

Even amid trials and sufferings, the psalmist feels a sense of security as he trusts in God to lead and protect him. He knows, despite the plans of his enemies, that God the Divine Host has prepared “a table” (verse 5) for him when the time comes for him to enter into God’s eternal rest. The psalmist feels overwhelmed by the abundance of God’s mercy and covenant love.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Christian understanding of the psalm

For Christians, the 23rd Psalm takes on its full meaning in Jesus’ statement, “I am the Good Shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14; Heb 13:20) and in the Eucharist.  Jesus fulfills the host metaphor of the psalm at the table of the Last Supper, where Jesus, the host of the sacred meal, offered His disciples the Eucharist for the first time.  It is in the Eucharistic Banquet of the Mass that Jesus continues to provide His faithful with the sacred meal on the altar table at every celebration of the Mass.  The Eucharist is a banquet that looks back in time to the Last Supper and forward in time to the heavenly banquet in God’s eternal kingdom (Rev 19:5-9).  We hope we will be found worthy of attending the Banquet of the Righteous that is the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and His Bride in the presence of all the saints, including the faithful David.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; Commentary used with permission.
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I can do all things in him who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:13

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Second Reading

Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20

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Reflections

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Only one thing is necessary

SECOND READING—This concludes our month-long series of readings from Philippians. While Paul is incarcerated, some of the Philippians send him gifts to help him endure the hardships of prison life. While grateful for the gifts, Paul shares that through his missionary journeys, he has learned to be content with both famine and feast.

Eating well or going hungry cannot compare with the strength Paul experiences in surrendering his life to Christ. He learns what Mary, the sister of Martha, had also come to know: “Only one thing is necessary,” namely, belonging to and being possessed by Christ. With Christ, Paul can say: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (Jn 4:34). Paul concludes by exhorting his readers to place their trust in the “magnificent riches of God.”

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

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SECOND READING—Go to Gospel reflection.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Commentary used with permission.

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

He strengthens us to do all things

SECOND READING—Paul has had his measure of suffering and of success. Yet, he tells the Church at Philippi that nothing can compare with the deep satisfaction that he has in his relationship with Jesus Christ. Whether he is sorrowing or celebrating, all that is nothing compared to the joy that he feels because of Jesus Christ. Hinduism and Buddhism teach that we will only be fully content when we have ceased desiring everything and anything. Paul says he has found his contentment in having only one desire: Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, he is also deeply grateful that the people at Philippi have taken care of him with their gifts when he was suffering in Thessalonica! He needs no one but Christ. However,their love and their aid have also sustained him.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Finding God in all things

SECOND READING—This, our last selection from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, makes for an odd fit between the two readings about the bountiful banquet God prepares for his faithful. This reminds us that the second reading during the season of Ordinary Time is a semi-continuous reading of Scripture, not chosen to fit the theme of the Sunday. (The first reading is always chosen as a commentary or complement to the Gospel and the psalm responds to the first reading.)

Our selection is part of Paul’s expression of gratitude for what the Philippian community has done for him, but the Lectionary ignores that context and simply presents us with Paul’s personal reflection on the relative unimportance of the material conditions of life.

Paul begins this reflection by speaking of his personal experience, something his friends have surely heard about in person. His phrases about humble circumstances would be literally translated as “I know how to be made low and how to abound.” Whether consciously or not, this contrast reflects the earlier hymn about Christ who humbled himself and was exalted by God.

This approach could sound like the Stoic philosophy of the Greeks. Stoic philosophers tried to free themselves from emotions and the desire for pleasure or fear of pain. Paul may have disregarded pain and danger as part of his discipleship, but he lived and wrote with a passion. He was not a Stoic, but a disciple of Christ whose commitment to the Gospel overrode every other consideration.

Because Paul understood his approach to life as a grace, he wanted to share it with the Philippians. Thus, even as he expressed gratitude for their support, he wanted them to remember that abundance or want, support or abandonment were never to be the factors determining their behavior.

Ignatius of Loyola fleshed this out in what he called the First Principle and Foundation of his Spiritual Exercises. Unlike the Franciscans who felt called to seek and embrace poverty, Ignatius counseled “indifference,” an attitude of acceptance of whatever circumstances life offers on the material and emotional level. In his Spiritual Exercises, he taught his followers, “We should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one … but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.”

Paul attributed his ability to live this attitude of indifference to the strength he received from Christ. Ignatius would explain it as receiving the grace of “finding God in all things.”

Both Paul and Ignatius teach that a lack of indifference, attachment to what we think of as good or desirable — even if that be poverty or virtuousness — can detour us from our Christian vocation. In Romans, Paul taught that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (8:38-39). As he closed his Letter to the Philippians, Paul called the community to accept whatever came as a path toward deeper union with God, trusting that God will give them all they need, even if it is not exactly what they might want.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentaries

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God’s Reward

The message in the Second Reading is to be confident in times of distress, like St. Paul’s continuing trust in God during his sufferings for his faith in Christ. Paul tells us, if we are faithful, God will meet our needs. Paul reminds us that God also wants us to be concerned about the distress of others. We must be open and ready to give what we can for the support of those in emotional, physical, or material suffering. Even if the giving is limited and comes from our meager supplies, God will reward us for our generosity. His reward will be far greater than any material earthly benefit.

Exploring the Text

Background

St. Paul, suffering for the sake of Christ in prison, had received a gift of money from the Christian community he founded at Philippi in the Roman province of Macedonia (the first Christian community in Europe). In his letter to the community, St. Paul expresses his gratitude, telling them, “it was kind of you to share in my distress” (verse 14a). And while he is unable to reward them for their kindness, he promises, “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (verse 14b).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's message to us

God’s message to us in this passage is to be confident in times of distress, like St. Paul’s confidence in God amid his sufferings for his faith in Christ. We can have confidence if we are faithful, that God will meet our needs. God also wants us to be concerned about the distress of others and to be ready to give what we can for the support of those in emotional, physical, or material suffering (lacking the basic needs to survive). Even if our giving is limited, coming from our merger supplies, God will reward us for our generosity, and His reward will be far greater than any material earthly benefit.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ — Matthew 22:8-9

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Gospel Reading

Matthew 22:1-14

Reflections

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The banquet of God’s Kingdom

GOSPEL—Like our first reading, the kingdom of God is imaged as a banquet to which all are invited to attend. The main focus of the parable is the response or lack of response from the invited guests. In this parable, Jesus continues to call the Pharisees and the religious leaders to conversion. Two invitations have been extended but the invitees refuse to come. Some even abuse and kill the servants delivering the invitations  (a reference to the Old Testament prophets and the early Christian missionaries).

There is one troubling verse in the Gospel which reads: “The King was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.” What are we to make of this verse, assuming that the King in the story represents God? Scholars tell us that the destruction of the city by the King is a reference to the Roman emperor’s destruction of Jerusalem about 70 AD, before Matthew wrote his Gospel. It would seem that Matthew interpreted this violent event as God’s punishment of the Jews for their rejection of Jesus. But such an interpretation does not square with Jesus’ love for all people—Jew and Gentile alike. As stated above, the main point of the parable is not about what God is like, but about the negative response of the religious leaders and all those invited to Jesus’ call to enter the Kingdom that he is inaugurating.

The final piece about the ‘wedding garment’ underlines the importance of not only saying ‘yes’ to Christ, but also living according to his values. It is one thing to present oneself for Baptism; it is another thing to live daily the Christian way of life. We must “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). While all are invited to the banquet of God’s Kingdom, not all will respond.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

Today we have a wedding story

GOSPEL—The reign/vision of God is like a royal wedding banquet. The audience is the same group who listened to the farming stories, the priests and Pharisees.

Food plays an important part in our lives: it not only nourishes the body it also nourishes the spirit. I was told that soldiers in a prisoner-of-war camp would swamp stories of favourite recipes. This was in the midst of meagre rations eaten in uncertainty. We might have though it better to avoid the topic of past meals, but no, the memory of pork bones, pavlova, Christmas cake and cold beer evoked family and friends and so enabled the soldiers to survive the hardships they were enduring.

Isaiah reminds his people of God’s merciful love, “Here at God’s place he will make a banquet for us.” There will be the best food and plenty of prize winning wines. God will heal us, “with his own hanky will he wipe our eyes.”

God is present where all people can sit down together, putting aside differences. Imagine the best gathering you’ve ever been to: God’s vision is that live should be lived in the same fellowship, not once a year but always.

With this in mind we turn to Matthew’s story of the wedding. The king sends out a lot of personal invitations to the people who usually get invited to such occasions. His invitations were hand delivered, a mark of great honour.

The invited paid no attention to the invitation. We couldn’t imagine such a thing happening. We know that sometimes people refuse invitations as a protest or to indicate their feelings, but usually they want it to be noted that they are boycotting the occasion. Rarely do you hear of people ignoring a royal invitation.

When it got back to the king that his invitation had been met with, not only rudeness, but violence towards his messengers he re-acted with violence against the murderers and against their cities.

The king had already prepared his feast so he sent his servants out to invite anyone they ran into. As the king mingled with his new guests he found a quest who had not accepted the garment that went with the invitation. When asked, why not. The person didn’t even bother to reply. The king’s response was swift. “Put him out into the dark.”

The original hearers of this story would not have been in any doubt about the subject of this story. God’s kingdom is not for the complacent, those who feel they belong by birth or piety. The invitation to discipleship is open to all.

The same is true today. It is not enough to belong to a parish, join a group or even contribute to planned giving, to be a disciple is to work diligently to bring about the kingdom, “on earth as it is in heaven”.

Jesus said that prostitutes and sinners would be welcomed ahead of the self-righteous. The symbol of the meal, from banquet to beans on toast, to Eucharist, is a reminder of the great mission that is entrusted to us as disciples. As the land belongs to God and we are the stewards, so too, all food belongs to God. We are called to take to heart the words of Jesus. “You feed them.” All people can expect the mercy of God, the compassion of God, the forgiveness of God when they encounter a friend of God.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Commentary used with permission.

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Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau's Reflection

Invite to the wedding whomever you find

GOSPEL—In Hebrew literature, the wedding feast is often used as an image of the final outcome of God’s blessings for those who have been faithful to the Covenant. Abundant food, free-flowing wine, the rejoicing of the guests, intimacy with the host are all characteristics of the heavenly feast,which will mark the everlasting happiness of those who have been faithful to God.

In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, Father Eugene LaVerdiere said that Jesus lives out the inauguration of the kingdom of God in his own eating and drinking with his disciples and even with those who were considered excluded from God’s favor: sinners, tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, etc. The wedding feast has already begun. The groom is here in the person of Jesus Christ. The heavenly banquet has started being celebrated here on earth.

Earlier versions of this Christian adaptation of the wedding feast imagery can be found in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas. In this version, several groups are too busy to answer the invitation. The parable ends with the line, “Buyers and sellers will not enter the places of my Father” (Thomas 64: 12). Luke’s version (Luke14:16-24)also has a welcome extended to those who had not previously been considered fit for the kingdom,while those who expected inclusion were excluded.

In Matthew, there are some striking differences. The host has become a king, always asymbolic way of representing God among the Jews. The wedding feast is for the king’s son, Jesus Christ, obviously. Several groups here, too, refuse the invitation. These most likely refer to the Scribes and Pharisees who refuse to acknowledge Jesus. When Jesus uttered the parable, those who finally were invited and accepted may have referred to the sinners and tax collectors, etc. By the time Matthew uses the parable in his Gospel, these probably now applied to the Gentiles who had not previously been invited but were now the very ones to accept and to be honored.

Matthew also inserts a strange item: between the refusal of the last who were meant to be included and the reaching out to those who had not been invited, the king orders the burning of their city. Scholars say that this is Matthew’s way of telling the Jewish leaders of his day that their city, Jerusalem, and their Temple had both been destroyed by the Romans because of their refusal to accept Jesus!

A place at the feast could even be forfeited by someone who, although invited and allowed in, turns out not to have the right disposition. Beware! Salvation is not automatic!

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Commentary used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

What makes someone worthy?

GOSPEL—In this, the third parable he tells during his last week on Earth, Jesus bedazzles the crowd with the story he invites them to imagine. Who made up his audience? Some were religious leaders, but the majority probably represented the classes from whom Jesus chose his disciples. They would have thought of themselves as ordinary folk, not particularly polished, some better off than others. They were the sort who would be mightily impressed by the vestments of the high priest, by the power of the Romans, by the adornments of the Temple.

These folks knew enough about fathers and sons and tenants and landowners to visualize the characters of other parables. Now, when Jesus invites them to think of a king, he’s bringing them into the stuff of fairy tales or wild dreams. Suddenly, their imaginations are active in a different way.

What would it be like to be on the king’s guest list? Who in their right mind would turn down a royal invitation? What kind of people could conceive of ignoring a second invitation — or worse yet, mistreat the representatives of their king? That’s treachery! And, as the powerless know all too well, it’s also stupid. Those arrogant high-and-mighty types are about to get just what they deserve! (As if they ever deserved what they had!)

Jesus gets the audience to consider the problem: What’s the king to do? He’s got the meat roasting and the wine decanted. He can’t let the rebuff define his son’s celebration. So while he sends his army to pillage the rebels’ towns, he sends his servants out to round up any and everybody. In the process, he gives his verdict on the situation: “Those who were invited were not worthy to come.”

What makes someone worthy? The unworthy are the ones who refused the invitation. The worthy must, therefore, be the people who were happy to receive a free meal. All that mattered was that they showed up.

But there was one hold out. Somebody came in who didn’t belong. A fellow crashed the party not wanting to be a guest, not wanting to put on his best. The intruder didn’t wear a wedding garment. In other words, whatever he was doing there, he didn’t come to celebrate with the king and his family. He attended the event, but he had nothing to do with its purpose. He couldn’t be allowed to stay; his attitude was a contaminant. Being at this celebration was an all or nothing affair. Anyone who showed up but didn’t want to take part, was like vinegar in a milkshake — he curdled the atmosphere.

Of course, this parable should lead us to consider our Eucharistic celebrations. It reminds us that none of us deserve the invitation, and all are called to accept it. It calls us to look at how we welcome one another, and asks us who else we should invite to join in our banquet. Finally, it tells us that if we aren’t enjoying it, we’re missing the point.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

God’s surprise party for humanity

GOSPEL—In ancient Peru, long before the days of the marauding Spaniards, the Inca’s preferred method of conquest was to overcome people with kindness. Emissaries of the Inca would go to a place not yet in the empire with an overabundance of gifts, signs of what the people could expect if they would become part of the Inca realm. Those who refused the offer learned some hard lessons from the Inca armies. They became the unfortunate subjects of a policy of dividing and exiling rebellious people from their home territory, neutralizing their threat to the empire. Long before the days of the mafia, the Inca made offers nobody should refuse.

That history sounds like a replay of the offers we hear in today’s readings, except for the fact that Isaiah and Jesus outdid the Inca. When Isaiah gives us a picture of God’s feast on the peak, he wants our mouths to water. Picture chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie, creamy pastries, fresh fish, roasted lamb and beef on the spit, berries and cherries, milk and honey. The wine selection is like no other — aged to perfection.

This isn’t just any celebration of a victory or national holiday. This is God’s surprise party for humanity, specially planned for people who have been trapped in chaos and tragedy. Natural disasters and war have left them devastated. They’ve also failed to live their own ideals. According to Isaiah, they arrive veiled in mourning garb. This party is the last thing they expect.

Then they encounter God. Whatever their conception of the Almighty, they hardly expected God to hurry out like a mother and wipe the tears from their faces. They came, scarred from their battles, guilty of everything human beings could imagine, and God invited them in. When no penalty could compensate for their wrong, God made no reproach. The whole earth was coming under the judgement of love. Nothing less. That’s Isaiah’s story.

Jesus too talks about a party. He tells of a king (guess who?) who’s prepared a wedding feast for his son. When everything is all set, the clergy, nobles and artists snub the servants bearing the invitation. Not to be dismayed, the king tries again. This time the fancy folk beat and kill the servants. So, the king sends them a marauding army. He sent more servants to find people worthy of his feast. This time they succeeded, and the banquet hall brimmed with a motley crowd gathered from the streets.

The simple folk in Jesus’ audience surely got a good chuckle from the story. The chief priests and elders probably found it a bit less enjoyable. But Jesus hid a riddle in the middle. After a moment of consideration, the listeners start scratching their heads asking what counts as worthy? The feasters included bad and good alike. What was the entrance requirement?

Jesus hid a couple of cryptic hints in the afterword to the story, the scene where the king caught sight of somebody who didn’t dress for the party. The king went right to him to ask why. Obviously, if everybody from the streets had been able to present themselves appropriately, he could have done so as well. When the guy refused to respond, the king treated him like the folks who refused to come at all — he cast him out into the darkness. Then, as if a proverb would explain it all, Jesus says, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Who are the chosen? Like the people who accepted the Inca’s invitation, they are the ones willing to receive God’s surprising and free offers. Their religious role or social position means so little that the higher the rank, the less likely they are to be at the banquet. Moral standing is hardly a qualification as Jesus made quite clear with the words, “bad and good alike.” (Oh, how that word “alike” can gall the ones who think they’re good!) The only difference between the banqueters and those gnashing their teeth in the dark was the partygoers’ whole-hearted acceptance of the invitation.

Jesus prefaced this parable saying that he was going to talk about the kingdom of heaven. As is obvious to anyone who has read Isaiah, Jesus used images from his tradition and gave them his own particular twist.

Today, we see the banquet as a symbol of Communion and our celebration of the Eucharist. This parable invites us to consider who God i s inviting and with whom we are willing to share the communal bread and wine. At each Eucharist we pray, “Lord I am not worthy.” That doesn’t matter to God. All that counts is our willingness to receive what we don’t deserve. It’s a surprising offer nobody should refuse.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentaries

Fr. Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
Commentary on Matthew 22:1-14
Verse 1
Jesus answered, and spoke to them again in parables, and concludes his discourse with again describing, 1st. the reprobation of the Jews; 2d. the calling of the Gentiles to the true faith; and 3d. the final judgment of both the one and the other. In this parable of the marriage feast, says St. John Chrysostom, our Saviour again declares to the Jews their reprobation, and the vocation of the Gentiles, their great ingratitude, and his tender solicitude for them. For he did not send them a single invitation only; he repeatedly invited them. Say, says he, to the invited; and afterwards, call the invited; thus evincing the greatness of their obstinacy, in resisting all the calls and pressing invitations of the Almighty. (Hom. lxx.) — This parable is certainly not the same as that mentioned in St. Luke xiv. 16, as every one that will be at the pains to examine and compare all the circumstances of each, will easily discover, though they are very much alike. (Menochius)

Verse 2
Is like to a man being a king, &c. This parable seems different from that of Luke xiv. 16. See St. Augustine, lib. ii. de Cons. Evang. chap. lxx. The main design in this parable, is to shew the Jews that they were all invited to believe in Christ; though so few of them believed. The king is God; his son is Jesus Christ; the spouse is the Church; the marriage is Christ’s incarnation; the feast, the grace of God in this life, and his glory in the next. His servants were the prophets; and lastly his precursor, St. John the Baptist. — My fatlings, which I have prepared, and made fat for the feast: but this is but an ornament of the parable. (Witham) — The same takes place in the kingdom of heaven, as when a king makes a marriage feast for his son. Jesus Christ seems to have had two things in view in this parable: 1st. that many are called to the kingdom of heaven, i.e. his Church, and that few come, as he concludes, ver. 14, many are called, &c; 2d. that not all that come when called will be saved, i.e. will be reputed worthy of the celestial feast; because some have not on the wedding-garment, as he shews, ver. 11. (Menochius) — Thus the conduct of God in the formation of his Church, and in the vocation of men to glory which himself has prepared for them in the kingdom of heaven, is like to that of a king, wishing to celebrate the marriage of his son. (Bible de Vence) — Marriage is here mentioned, says St. John Chrysostom to shew there is nothing sorrowful in the kingdom of God, but all full of the greatest spiritual joy. St. John the Baptist likewise calls our Saviour the spouse; and St. Paul says, I have espoused thee to one man, 2 Corinthians xi. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxx.) See also Ephesians v. 25. and Apocalypse xxi. 2. and 9. The nuptials in this place do not signify the union of marriage, or incarnation of Jesus Christ, by which the Church is made his spouse; but the marriage feast, to which men are said to be invited. This is no other than the doctrines, the sacraments and graces, with which God feeds and nourishes our souls, united to him by faith in this life, and by eternal joy and glory in the next. (Jansenius) — This union is begun here on earth by faith, is cemented by charity in all such as are united to Christ in the profession of the one true faith he came down to establish, and will be consummated and made perpetual hereafter by the eternal enjoyment of Christ in his heavenly kingdom.

Verse 3
His servants. John the Baptist and Christ himself, who took the form of a servant, to call such as had been formerly invited to the nuptials that were to be celebrated in his time. The Jews were invited by Moses and the prophets, and were instructed to believe that the Messias would celebrate the happy feast. On the predetermined day, they were again called by his servants, saying: Do penance; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand: come to the feast, i.e. become members of his Church, by believing in Christ. (Jansenius) — In the same manner, St. John Chrysostom says that the Jews had been invited by the voice of the prophets, and afterwards by the Baptist, who declared to all, that Christ should increase, but that he himself should decrease. At length, they were invited by the Son in person, crying aloud to them: come to me all you that labour, and are heavily laden, and I will refresh you. (Matthew xi. 28.) And again: if any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. (St. John vii. 37.) — and not by his words only, but by his actions also did he call them; and after his resurrection, by the ministry of Peter and the rest of the apostles (hom. lxx,) he informed the invited Jews that the banquet was ready; because the Christian religion being now established, the way to eternal happiness was laid open to mankind.

Verse 5
One to his farm. After they had put to death the Son of God, still did the Almighty invite them to the marriage-feast; but they with futile excuses declined and slighted the proffered favour, wholly taken up with their temporal concerns and sensual enjoyments, their oxen, lands and wives. From the punishment inflicted on these, we learn, that no consideration, how specious soever it may appear, can prove a legitimate excuse for neglecting our spiritual duties. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxx.) — Such as refuse to be reconciled to the holy Catholic Church, allege vain pretexts and impediments; but all these originating in pride, indolence, or human respect, will not serve at the day of general retribution and strict scrutiny.

Verse 6
Put them to death. Thus the Jews had many times treated the prophets. (Witham) — These were by far the most impious and the most ungrateful; tenuerunt Servos ejus, as is related in the Acts, with regard to the death of James, and Stephen, and Paul. (Menochius)

Verse 7
Sending his armies. Here our Redeemer predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, by the armies of Vespasian and Titus, sent against them by the Almighty, in punishment of their incredulity and impiety. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxx.) — Thus the king destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city; for sooner or later God is observed to exert his vengeance on all such as despise his word, or persecute his ministers. See the miseries to which the Jews were reduced in Josephus, book the 6th, chap. ix, Hist. of the Jewish war; who declares, that in the last siege of Jerusalem 1,100,000 persons perished, and that the city was completely destroyed. Other interpreters suppose that the evil spirits are here meant, by whom God punishes man, according to Psalm lxxvii, ver. 49. (Menochius and Mandonatus).

Verse 8
Were not worthy. The Almighty knew full well that they were not worthy; he still sent them these frequently repeated invitations, that they might be left without any excuse. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxx.) — More is signified here than the bare letter conveys; they were not only less worthy of the nuptials, but by their very great obstinacy, ingratitude and impiety, quite unworthy. Not so the Gentiles. (Jansenius) — Hence Christ says:

Verse 9
Go ye therefore into the highways. The apostles first kept themselves within the precincts of Judea, but the Jews continually sought their destruction. Therefore St. Paul said to them, (Acts xiii. 46.) to you it behoved us first to speak the word of God, but seeing you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles. (St. John Chrysostom, hom lxx.)

Verse 10
Both bad and good. Christ had before told the Jews that harlots and publicans should, in preference to them, inherit the kingdom of heaven, and that the first should be last, and the last first, which preference of the Gentiles, tormented the Jews more than even the destruction of their city. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxx.) — Good and bad, persons of every tribe, tongue, people, nation, sex and profession, without any exception of persons or conditions. Hence it is evident that the Church of God doth not consist of the elect only; and, that faith alone, without the habit of charity and good works, will not suffice to save us. (Bristow)

Verse 11
Wedding garment, which Calvin erroneously understands of faith, for he came by faith to the nuptials. St. Augustine says it is the honour and glory of the spouse, which each one should seek, and not his own; and he shews this, in a sermon on the marriage feast, to be charity. This is the sentiment of the ancients, of St. Gregory, St. Ambrose, and others. What St. John Chrysostom expounds it, viz. an immaculate life, or a life shining with virtues, and free from the filth of sin, is nearly the same; for charity cannot exist without a good life, nor the purity of a good life, without charity. In his 70th homily on St. Matthew, he says that the garment of life is our works; and this is here mentioned, that none might presume, (like Calvin and his followers) that faith alone was sufficient for salvation. When, therefore we are called by the grace of God, we are clothed with a white garment, to preserve which from every stain, from every grievous sin, depends upon the diligence (the watching and praying) of every individual. (St. John Chrysostom) — It was the custom then, as it still is in every civilized nation, not to appear at a marriage feast, or at a dinner of ceremony, except in the very best attire. (Bible de Vence)

Verse 12
Not having a wedding garment. By this one person, are represented all sinner void of the grace of God. (Witham) — To enter with unclean garments, is to depart out of this life in the guilt of sin. For those are no less guilty of manifesting a contempt for the Deity, who presume to sit down in the filth of an unclean conscience, than those who neglected to answer the invitations of the Almighty. He is said to be silent, because having nothing to advance in his own defence, he remains self-condemned, and is hurried away to torments; the horrors of which words can never express. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxx)
SOURCE:  StudyLight.org
Bishop John McEvilly's Commentary
Commentary on Matthew 22:1-14

1. “And Jesus answering.” The word, “answer,” by a Hebrew idiom, means, to commence speaking; to continue a discourse, introducing something new. It does not always suppose a preceding question calling for a reply. Here, it conveys, that no way daunted by the well-known designs of the Pharisees, our Redeemer continues to speak to them, and takes occasion, from their feelings, which He well knew, to point out, in the following parable, the rejection of the Jews, the call of the Gentiles, and the final reprobation of the evil doers, who, although of the Church, persevere in bad works to the end. It might be said, too, that He “answered,” to the latent thoughts of the Pharisees, “in parables.” It is disputed whether the following parable is the same as that mentioned (Luke 14:15, &c.), there being several circumstances in which they agree; and several, in which they differ. Some commentators, among whom are St. Augustine, St. Gregory, Jansenius, &c., say, they are quite different; that they were uttered under different circumstances. The parable referred to in St. Luke, was spoken when our Redeemer had been at table in the house of one of the Pharisees, and spoken on occasion of an observation made by one of the guests; whereas, the parable here, was spoken in different circumstances. Moreover, the characters referred to are quite different; the messengers despatched in the two parables, quite different, &c. Others, with St. Irenæus, &c., whose opinion is held by Maldonatus, say, there is reference to the same parable in St. Luke and here. The substance and scope in both are the same; and the circumstances in which they differ, so trivial, that they merit no consideration. The difference of circumstance of time and place, is accounted for in this way: St. Luke records facts accurately; whereas, St. Matthew, although remarkable for quoting our Redeemer’s words more fully than the other Evangelists, is not very particular in detailing the order of events; and hence, often anticipates or postpones events in his narrative, being more desirous of fully recording our Redeemer’s words. Here, then, he quotes this parable, although uttered under other circumstances; because, it suited those whom our Redeemer was now addressing.

2. “The kingdom of heaven,” viz., the Church of Christ, which is the long expected kingdom of the Messiah, in which He reigns over angels and men, subject and obedient to His spiritual rule. Hitherto, men were in servitude; but, now, the faithful are gifted with true spiritual liberty, under the sway of a spiritual King. It is also called “heavenly;” because all its ordinances, gifts, privileges, are from heaven; its destination, and the end to which it tends, is heaven.

“Is like to a king.” It is not the kingdom, but, rather, the King of heaven, that is like a king. Hence, the words mean: something occurs in the founding and extension of the Church, like unto what is represented in the following parable of the king and the marriage feast.

The literal meaning of the parable needs no explanation. Hence, we have only to point out its application. The king who instituted the marriage feast, refers to the Heavenly Father, whose eternal “Son,” Jesus Christ, in the fulness of time, being born of the Father from eternity, was born as man, of the Virgin, in time, and united to Himself the nature of man.

“The marriage,” refers, not to the nuptial union, but to the marriage feast (v. 4, &c.), to the graces, the Sacraments of the Church; above all, to the Sacrament of the adorable Eucharist; to the Word of God, by which the soul is nourished, all of which will lead to the enjoyment of those delights in store for the sons of God, who shall be inebriated with the abundance of God’s house, and for ever drink of the torrent of His delights (Psa. 35:9). By His assuming human nature, and afterwards redeeming us by His death, our Redeemer espoused His Church, and united her to Him by Faith, Hope, and Charity, here; which is to be followed by a closer union in the fruition of bliss, hereafter. The feast consequent on this nuptial union of Christ, comprises all the blessings of soul and body resulting therefrom, both in this life and in the next. It is quite usual, in SS. Scripture, to represent the covenant of God with man, under the figure of a marriage feast. (Isa. 54:6; Jer. 3:8; Matt. 25:5; John 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2, &c.) The allusion here to the mystical union of Christ with His Church, supposes a magnificent feast, such as marriage feasts, of kings, were amongst the ancients.

3. The “invited,” most likely, refers to the Jews, who had long since been invited by their Prophets and the Law of Moses, to prepare for the rich banquet, which in the time of the New Law, was to follow the Incarnation of the Son of God. The servants sent to call in those who were already invited, most probably refer to John the Baptist, and the Apostles, who, before the death of our Redeemer, invited the Jews to do penance, as “the kingdom of heaven was at hand.” St. Jerome reads, servant, in the singular. But, as it was most likely taken from St. Luke (14:17), the reading here is the more probable. The phrase, calling “those who were invited,” is allusive to a custom very prevalent, of issuing a more precise invitation, on the eve of a marriage, to the friends, who were before informed, in a more general way, of the event to take place at some period not then defined. “And they would not come.” The Jewish people resisted these gracious calls and invitations. As the king is said (v. 4), to send out “other servants” a second time, which are generally understood to refer to the Apostles; hence, some commentators understand, by the servants referred to in this verse (3), John the Baptist, and our Redeemer Himself, who was a servant, according to human nature. As, however, the servants sent on both occasions would seem to be different from the king’s son, of whose marriage there is question, it is better to adopt the former interpretation; for, the same Apostles may be regarded as other servants, inasmuch as they were sent on another and different occasion. Moreover, they were different men after the descent of the Holy Ghost, and they had associated to them parties who did not preach before the death of Christ, viz., Paul and Barnabas.

St. Chrysostom understands the servants, to refer to the latter Prophets; and John the Baptist, who pointed out Christ as already come, and His kingdom now arrived. Our Redeemer Himself, may perhaps, be included, since, in one respect, He was a servant, and He personally invited all: “Come to Me all ye that labour,” &c.; and also, when He commanded them to eat His flesh and drink His blood, which is the most precious banquet ever destined by God for man.

4. “Other servants.” This, most probably, refers to the period after the death of Christ, when He sent His Apostles and Apostolic men to invite the Jews again to the banquet. St. Chrysostom comments on the folly of the Jews, whose refusal necessitated this second mission of the king’s servants. After having slain his son and heir; after having spurned and refused the invitation of a king, and that to a banquet, which refusal was calculated to enrage him; still, such is the goodness of this Heavenly King, that He repeats His invitation, telling them, “all things are ready.” The invitation is not to sufferings, crosses, and afflictions; but, to pleasures and delights, at the very time they deserved punishment for the murder of His Son. No doubt, all who will take on them the yoke of Christ, will have to suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12); still, our Redeemer Himself declares, that His “yoke is sweet, and His burden light;” and the Psalmist invites all to “taste and see that the Lord is sweet.”

The “fatlings and beeves,” refer to the precious viands prepared in a style of royal magnificence for the numerous guests invited to the royal marriage; for more than one many “fatlings are killed.” This, may refer, in a special manner, to the death of Christ, and the institution of the adorable Eucharist, which took place between the first and second sending out of His servants. “All things are ready,” refers to the manifold and superabundant spiritual effects of the death of Christ, in the removal of obstacles, by His victory over the devil; in His throwing open the gates of heaven; and in the abundant graces now dispensed, of which the Holy Ghost plentifully dispensed by the Apostles, was a sure earnest and foretaste.

“Come ye to the marriage.” What infinite goodness and condescension on the part of our good God, whose happiness was no way affected by their coming or staying away.

5. The neglect and indifference with which they treated the invitation of the king, not heeding it, but merely attending to their ordinary business, clearly exhibit, the dispositions of the Jews in regard to embracing the faith of Jesus Christ, after He had shed His blood for them. Plunged in earthly cares, and grovelling in their attachment to temporal concerns—which is a distinguishing characteristic of that unhappy race even to the present day—they undervalued the price of Redemption, and preferred frivolous and passing pleasures, to the solid and permanent joys of a celestial banquet.

6. Some of them went so far as to maltreat and abuse the kind’s messengers. This exhibits the ingratitude of the Jews in a still clearer light, inasmuch as, having been invited long beforehand, and having promised to come to the nuptials, now, when everything is prepared, at immense sacrifice and cost, they kill the servants sent to call them.

The bad treatment received by the Apostles at the hands of the Jews, is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. They show still greater brutality than those did, who are referred to in the parable of the vineyard; for, these slew only the men who demanded the fruit of the vineyard, whereas, the others slew those who demanded nothing of them, but merely invited them to partake of the greatest enjoyments and delights.

How often do we not act similarly, crucifying again the Son of God by our sins, and exposing Him to mockery, refusing to enjoy His heavenly banquet. This, in a special manner, applies to those Christians, who refuse to approach Holy Communion; engrossed in worldly business and the distracting cares of temporal interests, or, indulging in illicit pleasures, they crucify again the Son of God; and we should tremble the more, as we have not the excuse the Jews had, viz., the folly and scandal of the Cross of Christ, to estrange and deter us.

For, we know, that He has triumphed by His Cross; and having been crucified according to the weakness of the flesh. He now lives by the power of God, seated at His right hand.

7. “When the king had heard of it” This is spoken conformably to the parable; as also are the words, “He was angry;” since the supreme King, knew of Himself, in virtue of His omniscience, all that happens; nor is He ever changed or moved to anger, save in the sense of inflicting punishment, as is done by an angry man.

“And sending His armies,” &c. This has evident reference to the destruction of Jerusalem forty years after, by the Romans under Titus and Vespasian. They are called “His armies;” because, they were mere instruments in the hands of God, to execute His judgments. (See Isa. 13:4, 5, &c.; Jer. 25:9, &c.) It was “He sent” these armies. It was He destroyed, by their instrumentality, without their knowing it, “those murderers, and burnt their city.” Josephus, describing the fearful miseries endured by the Jews in the last siege of Jerusalem, tells us, 1,100,000 persons were destroyed, and the city utterly ruined (Lib. 6, c. 9, de Bello Judaico). This might be regarded as a prophetic parable, which was fulfilled to the letter. The temporal punishment inflicted on the unhappy Jerusalem, is but a type of the excruciating tortures which, in the next life, the enemies of God are doomed to suffer for ever in hell.

8. “Then,” after the Jews, who were invited first, had rejected and spurned the grace of the Gospel, “He saith to His servants,” the Apostles, whose invitation the Jews had rejected.

“Were not worthy,” implies more than is expressed. It means, that they rendered themselves positively unworthy, by their incredulity and resistance to grace. For, the Gentiles who were admitted into the Church, were not worthy; but, they did not place such obstacles to grace as did the Jews. (Rom. 9:30, &c.) The mysterious economy of God in calling the Gentiles only, when the Jews had rejected the Gospel, and in making their fall the occasion of the call of the others, is fully explained by St. Paul (Rom. 11, &c.); and, also, Acts 13:45, &c.

9. But, although the first invited refused coming, still, the banquet would not be left unattended. “Highways” (“exitus viarum,” Vulgate), are understood by some, to mean the places where many roads meet, and whence many roads branch off. These are generally the places most crowded—places of public resort. Others understand by them, the outlets of the main streets from the city into the country. In the parable, the words refer to the most distant and remote nations of the Gentiles, “in omnem terram,” &c. (Psa. 17) “Eritis mihi testes,” &c. (Acts 1:8).

“And as many as you shall find.” No exception, no distinction—Jews or Gentiles, Greeks or barbarians. To all they are debtors. To all they owe it, to invite them to the king’s banquet.

10. They invited them, without distinction or exception—“good and bad.” Since all are “bad,” before their call, the words mean, they invited all, without distinction, from every class and rank of life, from every tribe, tongue, people, nation, sex, and profession. Or, the words may refer to the different degrees of moral character, which exist among Pagans themselves. For, among Pagans, some may be morally good, v.g., Cornelius the centurion, and others, “who by nature, do those things that are of the law” (Rom. 2:14); or, at least, there are “good and bad” among them, according to their own notions and opinions. The words may also refer to the condition they were in after their vocation and aggregation to the Church; and thus would show, that there are wicked men even in the Church, as is expressed, verse 11.

“And the marriage was filled with guests,” refers to the fulness of the Gentiles, who entered the Church after the Jews had refused entering, whose incredulity was made the occasion of the call of the former.

11. The entrance of the king “to see the guests,” is literally allusive to the usage observed by exalted personages, when they give splendid entertainments, of going in to see how all things appear, how it fares with their guests, and whether all things are conducted in a way worthy of such an occasion. In the application, it refers to the judgment of God, whether particular, at death; or, general, at the end of the world, as appears from the punishment (v. 13). Our Redeemer introduces this, to prevent any false feelings of foolish confidence on the part of the Gentiles, who were introduced after the Jews were rejected; since, it will not suffice to be in the Church to gain salvation. Many of the children of the Church may be reprobates and lost.

“And He there saw a man,” a certain person sitting down with the other guests.

“Wedding garment,” cannot refer to faith; since, he could not be there without it. By faith, and the sacraments of faith, he entered the Church. To come to the feast is, to believe, as those who did not come did so, because they did not believe. Hence, the word means, charity, which was the disposition in which Christ Himself united to Him His Church; and, therefore, the corresponding disposition which each one should carry with him. Charity it is, that “that covers a multitude of sins.” Charity it is, with the want of which St. John charges the Bishop of Ephesus, and the want of which rendered displeasing to God, the Bishop of Laodicea. It is charity that renders us beautiful in the eyes of God.

Others understand by it, a spotless, holy life, free from gross sins, adorned with all virtues and good works. This it is, that constitutes the putting on of Christ (Rom. 13:14; Coloss. 3:12); the putting on of the new man (Eph. 4:14); the newness of life (Rom. 6:4); the new creature (Gal. 6:15). This, however, comes to the same as the preceding interpretation, since charity cannot exist without a good life and meritorious good works; nor can these exist, in the sense now referred to, without charity. Hence, “the nuptial garment,” embraces all, viz., charity, good works, and a truly Christian life. This shows, that faith alone, without good works, will not suffice for salvation.

12. “Friend, how earnest thou hither?” This form of address, shows the reproach Almighty God will make to the members of His Church, who, having abused the friendship shown them, and having insulted Him after all the marks of friendship and love exhibited by Him, deserve hell. It also shows, that God punishes them, from a sense of justice, rather than from a feeling of hatred.

“He was silent,” conveys to us, that at the hour of death, or on the Day of Judgment, the light of God’s justice shall so dazzle the reprobate, and place the crimes they concealed from man in so manifest a light, that they cannot either deny or palliate them. The angels and men at judgment, shall be witnesses, says St. Jerome, of the sins of those whom the Divine justice will condemn: “nec negandi erit facultas, cum omnes Angeli et mundus ipse sit testes peccatorum. Illuminabit abscondita tenebrarum et manifestabit consilia cordium”

13. “The waiters,” the Angels, who are to execute the decrees of Divine justice.

The “binding of hands and feet,” denotes the inevitable punishment in store for them, in “exterior darkness,” &c., which refers to the eternal torments of hell, where they shall be for ever shut out from the sight of God, and the brilliant light of the supper hall; and consigned in a darksome dungeon to excruciating tortures, denoted by “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In speaking of “exterior darkness, weeping,” &c., our Redeemer passes, as sometimes is His wont, from the parabolical form of expression, to the thing denoted by the parable.

14. “For, many are called, but few are chosen.” This is the conclusion which our Redeemer draws from the foregoing parable. At first sight, one would imagine the conclusion, from the rejection of only one out of so many guests, ought to be, although many are called, only few are rejected. Some expositors, among them, St. Augustine, say, that this one who was rejected, was a type, and representative of those who are rejected, who are many, and more numerous than those who are saved, since, “broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter thereat;” whereas, but few enter the narrow gate. The scope of the parable, according to this, is to show that, besides the many who altogether refuse entering the Church, even of those who enter, some are lost. That our Redeemer designed to make the man in question, a representative of those many, who, being called, are still rejected, appears from the general conclusion He draws from the parable.

Others assert, that the conclusion is drawn from the entire foregoing passage, and comprises both the vast multitudes, who refuse entering the Church, and those who, being in the Church, do not lead lives worthy of their vocation, nor persevere to the end, and are thus rejected. Then in this interpretation, both the justness, and truth of the general conclusion are quite evident, since, if we include among those called, all who remain outside the Church, Jews and Pagans, and all who, being in the Church, do not lead edifying lives, it is clear, the damned are many, and the saved comparatively few. Others say, that the conclusion, as well as the entire parable, refers to the Jews, of whom many were called, but few embraced the faith at the preaching of the Apostles; and our Redeemer casually introduces, at the end of the parable, verse 11, the case of one of those who entered the Church, and was still lost, to show those who are members of the Church, and the Gentiles, who are called, that they had no reason to glory against the Jews; since, not all that are called and enter the Church are saved, which is sufficiently verified and exhibited by the fate of only one, in the Church, because he had not “the wedding garment,” was not clothed with the robe of charity and sanctifying grace.

Sunday Readingscommentary

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The Parable of the Wedding Feast

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven that ends with a teaching on divine judgment. Jesus uses the symbolic imagery of a feast as a metaphor for God’s gift of eternal salvation. The invitation to the “wedding feast” is the invitation to be in covenant/communion with God the great King through His Son, Jesus. God is the King, who invites guests to a wedding banquet, and Jesus, the King’s son, is the Bridegroom. In Jesus’ parable, there are three sets of invitations. From the beginning of God’s relationship with humanity, He extended the invitation to a covenant relationship with Him. Some invited to the wedding feast are too obsessed with temporal concerns to take the time to enter into a relationship with God and refuse to come. Others are hostile and reject the invitation that leads to eternal salvation. And some try to gain admittance on their terms. They try to attend but refuse to wear the wedding garment of divine grace that assures their entrance to the banquet of the Bridegroom and His Bride, the Church.

Exploring the Text

The Kingdom of Heaven is like...

During Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem before His crucifixion, Jesus told another parable in a confrontation with the religious authorities.  The subject was the Kingdom of Heaven, and it ended with His teaching on divine judgment.  It is the eighth time in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus began a parable with the words “the Kingdom of Heaven is like” (see Mt 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, and 52).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The invitation to the wedding feast

In the parable, God is the king who invites guests to the wedding feast, and Jesus is the Bridegroom, who is the king’s son.  The prophets of the Old Testament used the symbolic imagery of God as the Divine Bridegroom of the His Bride, the covenant a people.  The last Old Testament prophet, John the Baptist, announced Jesus’ coming as the “bridegroom” (Jn 3:29), and Jesus also referred to Himself as the “bridegroom” (Mk 2:19).

The invitation to the “wedding feast” is the invitation to be in covenant/communion with God the great King, a relationship symbolically represented as a marriage.  Notice that there are three sets of invitations, and some of the guests reject the invitation.  From the beginning of God’s relationship with humans, He has invited humanity, the “wedding guests,” to have a covenant relationship with Him.  Some are too obsessed with temporal concerns to take the time to enter into a relationship with God and “come to the feast,” while others are hostile and reject the invitation to salvation.  The people in the parable reflect the attitude of people in Jesus’ time who had a mixed reaction to His invitation to the Kingdom through His Gospel message of salvation.

3 He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. 4 A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘

As in the other parables, the first set of servants in verse 3 represent God’s Old Testament prophets, who called the people to repentance and salvation.  The second set of servants in verse 4 represents Jesus’ disciples and Apostles, who preach Jesus’ good news (Gospel) of salvation and the coming of His Kingdom (the Church).

5 Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  6 The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.

Throughout human history, people have found excuses to ignore God’s call to salvation, letting the concerns or temptations of life lead them away from fellowship with the Lord.  Others, who came into a covenant relationship with God, abused and killed His servants, the prophets, when He sent them to chastise the covenant people for falling into sin and disobedience to His commandments.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The king was enraged

7 The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

There are both Biblical and historical events that fit with God’s divine judgment in the parable against those who murdered His prophets and disobeyed His commandments.  When the people of the Sinai Covenant rejected their covenant obligations, worshipped false gods, and committed crimes against the poor, God withdrew His hand of protection, and Israel suffered the ravages of famine, sickness, war, and exile.  God spared a faithful remnant of the people to return from exile to the land and renewed obedience to God’s covenant.  However, the covenant people of Jesus’ time and their religious leaders forgot their lessons of past judgment.  They rejected God’s divine plan for humanity’s salvation by refusing their “Bridegroom,” the promised Messiah.  Therefore, Jesus gives a warning of impending divine judgment in His parable.

The warning to the religious leaders who vigorously opposed Jesus was that history would repeat itself in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the people’s exile.  The Romans fulfilled the warning of disaster in 70 AD.  It was a repeat of the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians in 587/6 BC (even on the same date, the 9th of Ab).  Jesus’ parable provides the answer to the withdrawal of God’s divine protection: the rejection of the invitation to enter God’s Kingdom through Jesus’ Gospel of salvation.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Divine Bridegroom

8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.  9 Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’  10 The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.

Why is it time for the “wedding feast”?  Who are those who were invited but no longer worthy, and who are the outsiders who now receive an invitation to the wedding feast?  The answer is that the Divine Bridegroom, Jesus the Messiah, is present, and it is time for the “wedding feast” to begin.  Therefore, God, the kingly Father, extends His invitation to all peoples.  The invitation is no longer limited to the people of the Sinai Covenant but all peoples of all nations as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah (Is 25:6; 66:18).  Israelites/Jews and Gentiles are all invited to be in covenant with the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, as members of His New Covenant Church, the Bride.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The wedding garment

11 But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.  12 He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’  But he was reduced to silence.  13 Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  14 Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The guests who join the wedding feast are those baptized by water and the Spirit in the Sacrament of Christian Baptism.  The members of the New Covenant Church, the Body of Christ, joined to the Bridegroom and clothed as His Bride in the garment of grace that is the good deeds of the saints (Rev 19:7-8; also see 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2; Jam 2:13-14, 24-26 and CCC 546).

The one who was bound and cast into the darkness did not come dressed in a wedding garment of grace.  He wanted to attend the feast, but he did not care about the Bridegroom enough to take the time to present a soul purified through genuine repentance and righteous works that demonstrated his faith (Jam 2:24). The kingly Father/God called upon the unprepared guest to give an answer and confess his sins, but he was silent; he failed in his false pride to ask for forgiveness.  The warning is that at the hour of judgment, it will be too late for those who failed to cleanse their souls in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before facing God in their Particular Judgment.  Those who claim to be the Bride of Christ must present themselves covered in a “garment” of grace, the texture of which is good deeds (Rev 19:7-8).  Words are not enough, nor are actions that lack substance.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Wailing and grinding of teeth

Genuine faith demonstrated in acts of righteousness and justice is the way to salvation (CCC 162, 2016; Jam 2:24).  Those who think they can come to the feast of eternal salvation on their own terms and merits without a life of faith and good works will be rejected and cast out into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

The place of “wailing and grinding of teeth” in verse 13 is the same place of eternal judgment as in the other parables; for example, in Matthew 13:49 ~ Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. (See CCC 1033-37).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Message for us today

It is not God’s desire that any should perish (1 Tim 2:3-4; 2 Pt 3:9). He invited us to come to the sacred meal of the banquet of eternal salvation; it was first extended to us in the Eucharist as a foretaste of what awaits in the eternal beatitude. He sent His Son as our Bridegroom, and He gave us all we need through the Sacraments to be dressed in the wedding garment of divine grace to enter into an intimate relationship with Christ, the Bridegroom. God invites everyone, but He also asks us to make a radical choice. We must be willing to give up everything for the sake of the eternal Kingdom (Mt 16:24-28; Mk 8:34-38; Lk 9:23-27). The choice to come is ours: This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:3 NJB). Are you prepared to be welcomed at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb? Are you clothed in your garment of grace?

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE):
Detail (lower left corner) from Parable of the Great Banquet by Brunswick Monogrammist (circa 1525), National Museum, Warsaw.
SOURCE: Wikipedia

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The Catena Aurea

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

List of Church Fathers

Here are some of the Church Fathers that Aquinas used in his commentary:

Third Century

  • Origen  – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian  – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius  – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius  – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary  – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose  – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome  – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius  – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine  – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom  – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine  – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus  – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea  – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium  – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea  – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus  – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium  – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria  – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin  – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian)  – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus  – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great”  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra  – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great  – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius  – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch  – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus  – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus  – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita  (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great  – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore  – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople)  – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh)  (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch)  – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus  – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius  – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.)  – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene  – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin  – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt)  – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople)  – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus  – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre)  – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus  – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact  – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm  – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus  – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc)  – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria
Click on banner above to toggle an annotated list of the Church Fathers that Aquinas compiled in his multi-volume commentary.

Matthew 22:1-14

TOGGLE BIBLE VERSES

1. And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

2. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3. And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

6. And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

7. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

8. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

9. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14. For many are called, but few are chosen.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxix.) Forasmuch as He had said, And it shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, He now proceeds to shew what nation that is.

GLOSS. (interlin.) Answered, that is, meeting their evil thoughts of putting Him to death.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. ii. 71.) This parable is related only by Matthew. Luke gives one like it, but it is not the same, as the order shews.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xxxviii. 2.) Here, by the wedding-feast is denoted the present Church; there, by the supper, the last and eternal feast. For into this enter some who shall perish; into that whosoever has once entered in shall never be put forth. But if any should maintain that these are the same lessons, we may perhaps explain that that part concerning the guest who had come in without a wedding garment, which Luke has not mentioned, Matthew has related. That the one calls it supper, the other dinner, makes no difference; for with the ancients the dinner was at the ninth hour, and was therefore often called supper.

ORIGEN. The kingdom of heaven, in respect of Him who reigns there, is like a king; in respect of Him who shares the kingdom, it is like a king’s son; in respect of those things which are in the kingdom, it is like servants and guests, and among them the king’s armies. It is specified, A man that is a king, that what is spoken may be as by a man to men, and that a man may regulate men unwilling to be regulated by God. But the kingdom of heaven will then cease to be like a man, when zeal and contention and all other passions and sins having ceased, we shall cease to walk after men, and shall see Him as He is. For now we see Him not as He is, but as He has been made for us in our dispensation.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) G marriage feast for God the Son, when He joined Him to human nature in the womb of the Virgin. But far be it from us to conclude, that because marriage takes place between two separate persons, that therefore the person of our Redeemer was made up of two separate persons. We say indeed that He exists of two natures, and in two natures, but we hold it unlawful to believe that He was compounded of two persons. It is safer therefore to say, that the marriage feast was made by the King the Father for the King the Son when He joined to Him the Holy Church in the mystery of His incarnation. The womb of the Virgin Mother was the bride-chamber of this Bridegroom.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Otherwise; When the resurrection of the saints shall be, then the life, which is Christ, shall revive man, swallowing up his mortality in its own immortality. For now we receive the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the future union, but then we shall have Christ Himself more fully in us.

ORIGEN. Or, by the marriage of Bridegroom with Bride, that is, of Christ with the soul, understand the Assumption of the Word, the produce whereof is good works.

HILARY. Rightly has the Father already made this wedding, because this eternal union and espousal of the new body is already perfect in Christ.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. When the servants were sent to call them, they must have been invited before. Men have been invited from the time of Abraham, to whom was promised Christ’s incarnation.

JEROME. He sent his servant, without doubt Moses, by whom I le gave the Law, to those who had been invited. But if you read servants as most copies have, it must be referred to the Prophets, by whom they were invited, but neglected to come. By the servants who were sent the second time, we may better understand the Prophets than the Apostles; that is to say, if servant is read in the first place; but if ‘servants,’ then by the second servants are to be understood the Apostles;

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. whom He sent when He said unto them, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Mat. 10:5.)

ORIGEN. Or; The servants who were first sent to call them that were bidden to the wedding, are to be taken as the Prophets converting the people by their prophecy to the festival of the restoration of the Church to Christ. They who would not come at the first message are they who refused to hear the words of the Prophets. The others who were sent a second time were another assembly of Prophets.

HILARY. Or; The servants who were first sent to call them that were bidden, are the Apostles; they who, being before bidden, are now invited to come in, are the people of Israel, who had before been bidden through the Law to the glories of eternity. To the Apostles therefore it belonged to remind those whom the Prophets had invited. Those sent with the second injunction are the Apostolic men their successors.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) But because these who were first invited would not come to the feast, the second summons says, Behold, I have prepared my dinner.

JEROME. The dinner that is prepared, the oxen and the fatlings that are killed, is either a description of regal magnificence by the way of metaphor, that by carnal things spiritual may be understood; or the greatness of the doctrines, and the manifold teaching of God in His law, may be understood.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. When therefore the Lord bade the Apostles, Go ye and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, it was the same message as is here given, I have prepared my dinner; i. e. I have set out the table of Scripture out of the Law and the Prophets.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) By the oxen are signified the Fathers of the Old Testament; who by sufferance of the Law gored their enemies with the horn of bodily strength. By fatlings are meant fatted animals, for from ‘alere’, comes ‘altilia,’ as it were ‘alitilia’ or ‘alita.’ By the fatlings are intended the Fathers of the New Testament; who while they receive sweet grace of inward fattening, are raised by the wing of contemplation from earthly desires to things above. He says therefore, My oxen and my fallings are killed; as much as to say, Look to the deaths of the Fathers who have been before you, and desire some amendment of your lives.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Otherwise; He says oxen and fatlings, not as though the oxen were not fatted, but because all the oxen were not fat. Therefore the fatlings denote the Prophets who were filled with the Holy Spirit; the oxen those who were both Priests and Prophets, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel; for as the oxen are the leaders of the herd, so also the Priests are leaders of the people.

HILARY. Or otherwise; The oxen are the glorious army of Martyrs, offered, like choice victims, for the confession of God; the fatlings are spiritual men, as birds fed for flight upon heavenly food, that they may fill others with the abundance of the food they have eaten.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) It is to be observed, that in the first invitation nothing was said of the oxen or fatlings, but in the second it is announced that they are already killed, because Almighty God when we will not hear His words gives examples, that what we suppose impossible may become easy to us to surmount, when we hear that others have passed through it before us.

ORIGEN. Or; The dinner which is prepared is the oracle of God; and so the more mighty of the oracles of God are the oxen; the sweet and pleasant are the fatlings. For if any one bring forward feeble words, without power, and not having strong force of reason, these are the lean things; the fatlings are when to the establishment of each proposition many examples are brought forward backed by reasonable proofs. For example, supposing one holding discourse of chastity, it might well be represented by the turtle-dove; but should he bring forward the same holy discourse full of reasonable proof out of Scripture, so as to delight and strengthen the mind of his hearer, then he brings the dove fatted.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. That He says, And all things are now ready, means, that all that is required to salvation is already filled up in the Scriptures; there the ignorant may find instruction; the self-willed may read of terrors; he who is in difficulty may there find promises to rouse him to activity.

GLOSS. (interlin.) Or, All things are now ready, i. e. The entrance into the kingdom, which had been hitherto closed, is now ready through faith in My incarnation.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ. sed vid. Gloss. ord.) Or He says, All things are now ready which belong to the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, and our redemption. He says, Come to the marriage, not with your feet, but with faith, and good conduct. But they made light of it; why they did so He shews when He adds, And they went their way, one to his farm, another to his merchandize.

CHRYSOSTOM. These occupations seem to be entirely reasonable; but we learn hence, that however necessary the things that take up our time, we ought to prefer spiritual things to every thing beside. But it seems to me that they only pretended these engagements as a cloak for their disregard of the invitation.

HILARY. For men are taken up with worldly ambition as with a farm; and many through covetousness are engrossed with trafficking.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Or otherwise; When we work with the labour of our hands, for example, cultivating our field or our vineyard, or any manufacture of wood or iron, we seem to be occupied with our farm; any other mode of getting money unattended with manual labour is here called merchandize. O most miserable world! and miserable ye that follow it! The pursuits of this world have ever shut men out of life.

GREGORY. Whosoever then intent upon earthly business, or devoted to the actions of this world, feigns to be meditating upon the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, and to be living accordingly, is he that refuses to come to the King’s wedding on pretext of going to his farm or his merchandize. Nay often, which is worse, some who are called not only reject the grace, but become persecutors, And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them despitefully, and slew them.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Or, by the business of a farm, He denotes the Jewish populace, whom the delights of this world separated from-Christ; by the excuse of merchandize, the Priests and other ministers of the Temple, who, coming to the service of the Law and the Temple through greediness of gain, have been shut out of the faith by covetousness. Of these He said not, ‘They were filled with envy,’ but They made light of it. For they who through hate and spite crucified Christ, are they who were filled with envy; but they who being entangled in business did not believe on Him, are not said to have been filled with envy, but to have made light of it. The Lord is silent respecting His own death, because He had spoken of it in the foregoing parable, but He shews forth the death of His disciples, whom after His ascension the Jews put to death, stoning Stephen and executing James the son of Alphæus, for which things Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. And it is to be observed, that anger is attributed to God figuratively and not properly; He is then said to be angry when He punishes.

JEROME. When He was doing works of mercy, and bidding to His marriage-feast, He was called a man; (homini regi) now when He comes to vengeance, the man is dropped, and He is called only a King.

ORIGEN. Let those who sin against the God of the Law, and the Prophets, and the whole creation, declare whether He who is here called man, and is said to be angry, is indeed the Father Himself. If they allow this, they will be forced to own that many things are said of Him applicable to the passible nature of man; not for that He has passions, but because He is represented to us after the manner of passible human nature. In this way we take God’s anger, repentance, and the other things of the like sort in the Prophets.

JEROME. By His armies we understand the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judæa, laid in ashes the faithless city.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. The Roman army is called God’s army; because The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; (Ps. 24:1.) nor would the Romans have come to Jerusalem, had not the Lord stirred them thither.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Or, The armies of our King are the legions of His Angels. He is said therefore to have sent His armies, and to have destroyed those murderers, because all judgment is executed upon men by the Angels. He destroys those murderers, when He cuts off persecutors; and burns up their city, because not only their souls, but the body of flesh they had tenanted, is tormented in the everlasting fire of hell.

ORIGEN. Or, the city of those wicked men is in each doctrine the assembly of those who meet in the wisdom of the rulers of this world; which the King sets fire to and destroys, as consisting of evil buildings.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) But when He sees that His invitation is spurned at, He will not have His Son’s marriage-feast empty; the word of God will find where it may stay itself.

ORIGEN. He saith to His servants, that is, to the Apostles; or to the Angels, who were set over the calling of the Gentiles, The wedding is ready.

REMIGIUS. That is, the whole sacrament of the human dispensation is completed and closed. But they which, were bidden, (Rom. 10:3.) that is, the Jews, were not worthy, because, ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. The Jewish nation then being rejected, the Gentile people were taken in to the marriage-feast; whence it follows, Go ye out into the crossings of the streets, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the wedding.

JEROME. For the Gentile nation was not in the streets, but in the crossings of the streets.

REMIGIUS. These are the errors of the Gentiles.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Or; The streets are all the professions of this world, as philosophy, soldiery, and the like. And therefore He says, Go out into the crossings of the streets, that they may call to the faith men of every condition. Moreover, as chastity is the way that leads to God, so fornication is the way that leads to the Devil; and so it is in the other virtues and vices. Thus He bids them invite to the faith men of every profession or condition.

HILARY. By the street also is to be understood the time of this world, and they are therefore bid to go to the crossings of the streets, because the past is remitted to all.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Or otherwise; In holy Scripture, way is taken to mean actions; so that the crossings of the ways we understand as failure in action, for they usually come to God readily, who have had little prosperity in worldly actions.

ORIGEN. Or otherwise; I suppose this first bidding to the wedding to have been a bidding of some of the more noble minds. For God would have those before all come to the feast of the divine oracles who are of the more ready wit to understand them; and forasmuch as they who are such are loth to come to that kind of summons, other servants are sent to move them to come, and to promise that they shall find the dinner prepared. For as in the things of the body, one is the bride, others the inviters to the feast, and they that are bidden are others again; so God knows the various ranks of souls, and their powers, and the reasons why these are taken into the condition of the Bride, others in the rank of the servants that call, and others among the number of those that are bidden as guests. But they who had been thus especially invited contemned the first inviters as poor in understanding, and went their way, following their own devices, as more delighting in them than in those things which the King by his servants promised. Yet are these more venial than they who ill-treat and put to death the servants sent unto them; those, that is, who daringly assail with weapons of contentious words the servants sent, who are unequal to solve their subtle difficulties, and those are illtreated or put to death by them. The servants going forth are either Christ’s Apostles going from Judæa and Jerusalem, or the Holy Angels from the inner worlds, and going to the various ways of various manners, gathered together whomsoever they found, not caring whether before their calling they had been good or bad. By the good here we may understand simply the more humble and upright of those who come to the worship of God, to whom agreed what the Apostle says, When the Gentiles which have not the Law do by nature the things contained in the Law, they are a law unto themselves. (Rom. 2:14.)

JEROME. For there is an infinite difference among the Gentiles themselves; some are more prone to vice, others are endowed with more incorrupt and virtuous manners.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Or; He means that in this present Church there cannot be bad without good, nor good without bad. He is not good who refuses to endure the bad.

ORIGEN. The marriage-feast of Christ and the Church is filled, when they who were found by the Apostles, being restored to God, sat down to the feast. But since it behoved that both bad and good should be called, not that the bad should continue bad, but that they should put off the garments unmeet for the wedding, and should put on the marriage garments, to wit, bowels of mercy and kindness, for this cause the King goes out, that He may see them set down before the supper is set before them, that they may be detained who have the wedding garment in which He is delighted, and that he may condemn the opposite.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. The King came in to see the guests; not as though there was any place where He is not; but where He will look to give judgment, there He is said to be present; where He will not, there He seems to be absent. The day of His coming to behold is the day of judgment, when He will visit Christians seated at the board of the Scriptures.

ORIGEN. But when He was come in, He found there one who had not put off his old behaviour; He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. He speaks of one only, because all, who after faith continue to serve that wickedness which they had before the faith, are but of one kind.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) What ought we to understand by the wedding garment, but charity? For this the Lord had upon Him, when He came to espouse the Church to Himself. He then enters in to the wedding feast, but without the wedding garment, who has faith in the Church, but not charity.

AUGUSTINE. (cont. Faust. xxii. 19.) Or, he goes to the feast without a garment, who goes seeking his own, and not the Bridegroom’s honour.

HILARY. Or; The wedding garment is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the purity of that heavenly temper, which taken up on the confession of a good enquiry is to be preserved pure and unspotted for the company of the kingdom of heaven.

JEROME. Or; The marriage garment is the commandments of the Lord, and the works which are done under the Law and the Gospel, and form the clothing of the new man. Whoso among the Christian body shall be found in the day of judgment not to have these, is straightway condemned. He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? He calls him friend, because he was invited to the wedding as being a friend by faith; but He charges him with want of manners in polluting by his filthy dress the elegance of the wedding entertainment.

ORIGEN. And forasmuch as he who is in sin, and puts not on the Lord Jesus Christ, has no excuse, it follows, But he was speechless.

JEROME. For in that day there will be no room for blustering manner1, nor power of denial, when all the Angels and the world itself are witnesses against the sinner.

ORIGEN. He who has thus insulted the marriage feast is not only cast out therefrom, but besides by the King’s officers, who are set over his prisons, is chained up from that power of walking which he employed not to walk to any good thing, and that power of reaching forth his hand, wherewith he had fulfilled no work for any good; and is sentenced to a place whence all light is banished, which is called outer darkness.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) The hands and feet are then bound by a severe sentence of judgment, which before refused to be bound from wicked actions by amendment of life. Or punishment binds them, whom sin had before bound from good works.

AUGUSTINE. (de Trin. xi. 6.) The bonds of wicked and depraved desires are the chains which bind him who deserves to be cast out into outer darkness.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) By inward darkness we express blindness, of heart; outer darkness signifies the everlasting night of damnation.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Or, it points to the difference of punishment inflicted on sinners. Outer darkness being the deepest, inward darkness the lesser, as it were the outskirts of the place.

JEROME. By a metaphor taken from the body, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, is shewn the greatness of the torments. The binding of the hands and feet also, and the weeping of eyes, and the gnashing of teeth, understand as proving the truth of the resurrection of the body.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) There shall gnash those teeth which here delighted in gluttony; there shall weep those eyes which here roamed in illicit desire; every member shall there have its peculiar punishment, which here was a slave to its peculiar vice.

JEROME. And because in the marriage and supper the chief thing is the end and not the beginning, therefore He adds, For many are called, but few chosen.

HILARY. For to invite all without exception is a courtesy of public benevolence; but out of the invited or called, the election will be of worth, by distinction of merit.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) For some never begin a good course, and some never continue in that good course which they have begun. Let each one’s care about himself be in proportion to his ignorance of what is yet to come.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. Or otherwise; Whenever God will try His Church, He enters into it that He may see the guests; and if He finds any one not having on the wedding garment, He enquires of him, How then were you made a Christian, if you neglect these works? Such a one Christ gives over to His ministers, that is, to seducing leaders, who bind his hands, that is, his works, and his feet, that is, the motions of his mind, and cast him into darkness, that is, into the errors of the Gentiles or the Jews, or into heresy. The nigher darkness is that of the Gentiles, for they have never heard the truth which they despise; the outer darkness is that of the Jews, who have heard but do not believe; the outermost is that of the heretics, who have heard and have learned.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.

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