Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 12, Mt. 22: 1-14.
The Gospels selected to be read for the 26th, 27th, and 28th Sundays in Ordinary Time are all quite similar and carry the same message. They are all concerned with choices: our choosing for the goodness that God has offered us as free gift, or choosing to reject it and go our own way. Three weeks ago we had the Parable of the Two Sons who were asked by their father to go into his vineyard and work. The first said, “No,” he wouldn’t do it, but later he changed his mind and went into the vineyard to do the work. The second son said “Yes” to his father’s request, but then later chose not to go into the vineyard to work. Last Sunday, we had the Parable of the Tenants who leased a vineyard and then chose to beat and kill the servants of the owner of the vineyard who came for the owner’s share of the produce. Instead of choosing to give the owner his just due, they chose to kill his servants and his son and keep it all for themselves.
And in today’s Gospel, the invited guests to the banquet are given the choice to attend or not. All of them chose not to come and others were then invited in their stead. All three parables have to do with the choices we make. And the moral presented by all three is that we weigh our choices carefully that we may choose correctly and bear fruit at harvest time.
To tell you the truth, in reading this Gospel I have always felt a little bit sorry for the fellow who shows up at the wedding banquet without the required wedding garment. Presumably, he was out strolling the streets when he was invited to attend a wedding banquet and then he got into all kinds of trouble for not being properly dressed for the wedding he had not intended to attend at the beginning of the evening. But what we must remember here is that he was invited and knowingly accepted the invitation knowing he was not properly dressed.
We remarked in last week’s Sunday homily that God’s grace, which is what is being offered in all of these parables, is pure gift. We do not earn it in any way or deserve it. It is a gift. But we must have the faith desire to accept it, to be open to conversion, in order to get anywhere at all. It seems like God is the Giver and we are the recipients in all of this, and that is true for the most part. We do, however, have to be willing and have the desire to accept God’s grace. This is our part.
The 6th Step of the 12 Steps, one of the conversion Steps, brings our participation in all of this out very nicely. It reads: “We were entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character”. In this Step we take no action; we simply are entirely ready and willing to have God remove our defects and we are willing to cooperate with him in doing so. This is the faith desire, the wedding garment that the man in today’s parable failed to “wear.” This wedding garment is the desire for conversion in heart and mind that is required to enter into the Kingdom, that is required for any change whatsoever.
The man who entered without the wedding garment tried to enter the wedding banquet without this willingness, and it didn’t work. How about us? Are we willing to accept God’s invitation into his Kingdom with open minds and to follow Jesus all the way? Or are we playing games with God by saying we will go into the vineyard, the Kingdom, and work and then end up not going? We must say what we mean and mean what we say. Then we will be properly dressed in accepting God’s invitation to the Kingdom.
Monday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 13, Luke 11: 29-32.
The Gospel assigned to be read today mentions the Old Testament figure Jonah. We all remember him for having been in the “belly of the whale” for three days. Jonah was called by God to go to the Ninevites and encourage them to repent. They must have been a really nasty bunch because Jonah wanted nothing to do with them and ran the other way. But despite his efforts to flee God’s request, he ended up in Nineveh anyway. And lo and behold these terrible, frightening Ninevites listened to Jonah! They got down on their knees, put on sackcloth and ashes, and repented! They deserve a round of applause.
Repentance is one of the main themes, if not the theme, of the Scriptures. Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached repentance. Remember, repentance is making that U turn we have spoken so much about in past homilies during Lent. But anytime of the year is the time for U turns. If we are going in one direction and things aren’t working out like they are supposed to, we must turn and go in the other direction. Most of the time, repentance is just plain, common sense. What U turns do I need to ask God to help me make?
Tuesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 14, Luke 11: 37-41.
In today’s Gospel selection Jesus is reprimanding the Pharisees again for their hypocrisy. The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word meaning an actor, one who is playing a part. Hypocrites are phonies. I think this is a good point for us to reflect on every now and then. Am I being true to God and true to myself? Am I accepting my God-given gifts and talents, using them for the service of my neighbor, and allowing others to use theirs for me? Or am I trying to practice that nonsense of being all things to all people and ending up trying to do things I am not able to do? During my alcoholic years, I was a phony par excellence. If you could do something, I could do it better. All kinds of trouble happened because of this attitude.
Lord, help us today to be true to you and true to ourselves.
Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 15, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus.
St. Teresa of Jesus, whose Memorial we celebrate today, is probably better known as St. Teresa of Avila, where she was born in 1515. For those millions of people who suffer from headaches, St. Teresa is the patron Saint of headache sufferers. She started out living a rather ordinary life even to the point of being a rebellious teenager whom her father maintained was completely out of control. Because of her terrible behavior, he sent her to a convent for a bit of discipline. That didn’t go well at first, but after a while she actually began to like it. Talk about a U turn! She finally chose to be a nun herself because the convent was the safest place for someone as prone to sin as she was. Her life as a nun went round and round and is too complicated and too lengthy to go into here.
At age 43, she decided it was time to go back to the basics of a simple life devoted to poverty and prayer. Spiritual life for her became an attitude of love, not a rule. She is the founder of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns and in 1970 she was declared a Doctor of the Church for her writings on prayer. She is only one of two women to be so honored. She died on October 4, 1582, at the age of 67. She was canonized in 1622.
St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Thursday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 16, Luke 11: 47-54
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus is after the scribes, whose job was to interpret God’s law for the people. They were only too quick to rationalize their way out of their own obligations to God, to persecute Jesus, and to encourage the people not to accept Jesus. Again, Jesus reprimands them for their hypocrisy which we just discussed a day or two ago. Let’s not fall into this trap of being busy about many things in our practice of our religion and neglect the things that are really important. It is a good thing to belong to parish organizations, etc., but while doing these things let’s not neglect being compassionate to those who in anyway need our help.
Friday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 17, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch who was martyred in Rome in the year 107 under the Emperor Trajan. This is truly one of the saints of the very early Church that is still remembered in our own time. He longed to be a martyr and his prayer was answered. During his long journey from Antioch to Rome, he wrote seven letters addressed to the faithful in different cities. He is still remembered today because of the dedication to the young Church and to Christ who was really the center of his life. Perhaps his feast can be the occasion for all of us to reflect on the busyness of our own daily life and ask ourselves if this is pushing Jesus’ importance in our lives aside.
Saturday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 18, Feast of St. Luke.
Writers of the lives of the Saints are quick to point out that we know few facts about the life of St. Luke from Scripture or Church historians. Then they go on for pages telling us all about him.
One thing that seems certain was the fact of his being a physician. Although he was probably born a slave, it was not too uncommon to educate slaves as physicians; one would have a doctor handy in the family. St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.
Luke wrote his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. From Acts we know that he was a disciple of St. Paul on some of his journeys. We know he was a loyal comrade who stayed with Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome. Luke had a unique perspective concerning Jesus; there are 6 miracles and 18 parables told in his Gospel that are not found in the other three Gospels. Luke also gave special concern to the women who followed Jesus and served him, especially his mother Mary. Much of what we know about Jesus and his early family life with Joseph and Mary comes from Luke. Forgiveness and mercy were topics of great importance to Luke. Witness to this is the Parable of the Good Samaritan found only in Luke’s Gospel. We also discover from his writings that he loved the poor, wanted the door to God’s Kingdom open to all, that he respected women, and wished God’s mercy for all people.
St. Luke, pray for us.