The first reading is from the Prophet Isaiah. It is one of the more famous writings of his and it talks about, what St. Thomas Aquinas would have called “The Beatific Vision.” This is the vision of how things will be when the Lord comes again, when the Kingdom of Heaven is fulfilled. It is a vision of the last days when the full and complete vision of God for his creation is complete.
It is a vision put into terms that humans can tolerate and understand. The vision is a holy mountain where all good things are experienced and all that is evil is wiped away. Isaiah paints a wonderful sensual vision of food, comfort, enjoyment and peace, while at the same time describes how all that was evil, restrictive and painful is destroyed. It is what every human being, at their core dreams of and strives for. It is what gives us hope and pulls us forward even in the darkest time.
Isaiah may not have fully grasped the full teaching of Jesus when he appeared a couple of thousand years later, the ideas and goals are the same. No matter what our pain, no matter what our separation, with patient endurance, those who trust in the Lord will reach that Holy Mountain.
Jesus, during his time picks up on Isaiah’s theme and vision. He tells a parable in today’s Gospel that the Jewish people who heard it would have instantly understood the parallels Jesus was making with his parable. The idea of the Holy Mountain with its delicious and plentiful banquet is what Jesus uses when describing the Lord’s banquet. While Isaiah does not get into people’s choice in whether they choose to approach the Holy Mountain in having faith in the Lord, Jesus is more direct. Jesus describes the beautiful and wonderful banquet prepared for all of us and he invites us all to come as his guests.
However, as you might guess, we have a choice. As silly as it may sound, some of us decide not to choose to come to the banquet, for whatever reason. Perhaps some doubt the good and pleasure of the banquet, convinced it would be more fun to do something else. Others are too lazy, while others have their own selfish reasons not to come to the Lord’s banquet.
In the end, while the banquet was prepared for invited guests, too many proved unworthy or unwilling to come. In a rage the Lord un-invites the original guests and throws the doors open to any and all who are willing and able to come. There is one thing, however. You must make an effort and you can’t just show up, as the man not dressed properly found out. He has not made the least effort to come and show that he cares about the Lord’s generosity. He just shows up in whatever he had on and promptly finds himself tossed into the street.
We are invited to the banquet here at Mass every weekend. What effort do we make to demonstrate our gratitude for being invited. Do we just show up with whatever we had on or whatever we need to be wearing after Mass, wherever we are going. It is not about having a dress code for Mass, it is about demonstrating how much we value the invitation God gives us.
Rev. James Kirby