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Homily for the Twenty-eight Sunday, year A

13 Oct 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

I remembered a few years ago, I con-celebrated at the funeral of a dear one, and our scripture passage this morning was the exact text of that day. On this mountain, the Lord of host will prepare for all people a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy… he will destroy Death forever. The homilist at the funeral Mass tried to console everyone present and he reassured us that death is not the end but the beginning of another life in Christ Jesus.

This morning we are gathered here not for funeral Mass, yet the same passage was read to your hearing. It may be a reminder of the inevitable nature of death, but our gospel passage from Matthew throws more light on this mountain of celebration.

Once again, Jesus tells the chief priests and the elders of the people a parable as he did a week ago in our gospel passage. He compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. When everything was set, he sent his servants to call the invitees, but they turned down the invitation to his surprise. Maybe the king was too surprised to accept the response he got as truth, so he sent more servants to tell the invitees that the oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them, and killed them. But the food cannot be left to waste, so the invitation was opened to everyone, both rich and poor, good and bad alike. They were all welcomed into the wedding hall and were probably given the wedding garment. But the king noticed a man in the hall who was not wearing the wedding garment; the man was bound hand and foot at the order of the king and thrown out into the dark, for many are called, few are chosen.

The mountain of God is not a place of pain, sorrow, and death. The mountain is the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of peace and joy to which everyone is invited. Christianity is not a call to give up everything that brings us laughter and joy, it is not a call to live outside this world, and the following of Christ should not be for us a burden. I am very much aware that Jesus expects us to take up our crosses and follow him, but certainly not foolishly. God wants us to live a happy life, not to be backward and outdated in the name of Christianity. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that he knows what it means to be poor and what it means to be rich, in plenty, or poverty. He believes that there is nothing he cannot do through Christ who strengthens him. That is the power of the joy of the Lord, that is the power of the feast to which we are invited; nothing can overcome its happiness.

The invitation to the feast of God is free, just as the king later left the invitation to his son’s wedding open to everyone. We are not told that the invitees were directed to buy the wedding garment; they were probably freely given. And that was why the king was furious when he noticed a man in the wedding hall without a garment; he asked him, How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?

We, too, have been invited to the feast of heaven, and we’ve been given the garment of salvation and celebration through our baptism in Christ Jesus. We all are invited, but just as Jesus said, many are called, but few are chosen. Nobody can snick into heaven; only those who kept their garments clean will be admitted in.

There is no doubt that our garments have been stained, and to avoid been thrown out of the wedding feast of heaven, we are called today to wash them clean in the blood of the Lamb. For John, in a revelation, saw many people that no man could number; they were from every nation, tribe, and tongue. They were clothed in a white garment, and John was told that they are those who have washed their garment clean in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:9-14).

That is what is expected of us today. The problem is not having our garments stained but refusing to have them washed in the blood of the Lamb. Let us today humble ourselves before God for cleansing, let us approach his throne of mercy with a truly contrite heart, and let his mercy set us free.