The Catholic Parish of Otaki and  Levin

Faith Communities of Otaki, Levin and Kuku


Homily for the 28th  Sunday in Ordinary Time

15 October 2017


You might agree that dinner parties can be very enjoyable with tasty food and pleasant wine, and good company. One never quite knows though how the conversation might develop as the wine flows! A rather self-possessed astronomer once approached a priest at such a party. ‘Father’, the astronomer rather patronisingly asked. ‘Wouldn't you agree that all of Christian theology could be summed up in this simple song: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so?’ ‘Yes,’ the priest replied, ‘if you would agree that all of astronomy can be summed up in this song: Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are!’


We all know, as that priest did, that the Scriptures are infinitely more complex, deep and subtle than the astronomer’s taunt would have it. Indeed, the Scriptures may be compared to a symphony in which themes are presented, developed, combined and reinterpreted. A major theme throughout the Old and the New Testaments is that of a Feast. God is perceived as a host at a banquet to which God invites first the Chosen People and then the whole world.


Our first reading this Sunday, taken from the first prophet Isaiah, is a famous and wonderful vision in which God prepares a fine banquet for his people and for all nations.

Disconcertingly, for those Christians who would have God a wowser and heaven dry, there is wine in abundance. At this feast in heaven, God abolishes death, which is one reason this reading is often chosen for funerals.


A theme linked with it is that of the wedding. God is the great bridegroom of Israel, and all Israel is God’s bride. In Christian terms, the Church is the bride of Christ, and heaven is seen symbolically as a wedding feast with God in the risen and glorified Jesus. Our Eucharist is the foreshadowing on earth of that heavenly banquet.


Jesus develops this symbolism in our gospel parable. A king gives a feast for his son’s wedding and sends his servants to summon all who have been invited. It seems strange that anybody should refuse to go to such an important event.


Not only do they refuse to go, but they even kill the messengers. A clue might lie in wedding customs of the period. Guests were expected to send money for the feast in advance of the wedding. Maybe, on the human level of the story, they feel they cannot afford it, or they have other things to do. The violence against the messengers is inexcusable. God invites people to God’s feast in the kingdom. Messengers, such as prophets and apostles, are sent to the religious leaders of Israel. Many of these messengers are persecuted and killed.


After their refusal, the king invites everybody. All are invited to the feast. At first sight it seems unfair that a guest is thrown out because he is not wearing a wedding garment. If just gathered in from the street could he be expected to wear proper dress? Again, we must allow for the symbolism of the story. This unfortunate guest is at least willing to come to the wedding. For this feast the host requires no contribution of goods or money, but he does want faith and good works symbolised by the wedding garment. He wants mercy and compassion, and true repentance for sins committed.


One of the ‘wedding garments’ the Church encourages us all to put on today is a passion for respecting, promoting and protecting all human life from conception until natural death. As I’m sure you are well aware, this passion is not understood and is not generally popular in our wider society today. Even so, I am convinced that in their heart of hearts all people of good will are capable of appreciating and even sharing our Catholic passion for life.


In our world where many people short-sightedly value and celebrate only what they perceive as useful to them or their families, we, by way of contrast, value and celebrate human life itself. That this life may be deemed uneconomic or unattractive or even a nuisance makes absolutely no difference to we who have faith! So such people as some unborn children, those with special needs or with disabilities (and perhaps that includes all of us!), or those approaching the end of their lives here on earth, or others, are seen by people of faith to be loved, valued and cherished by God and by the People of God.


For we know absolutely that our value as persons depends only that God made us 'to know, love and serve him on earth, and to be blessed forever with him in eternity'. We who are made in God's own image and likeness, recognize and celebrate all human life similarly dignified with God's own creative and loving approval. This is our wedding garment par excellence!


What then can I do this week to promote life, to more and more complete my wedding garment? I might visit, phone, write to, email, text an older person I know. I might offer to mind a child or children for a parent who might appreciate some free time. I might encourage, support, assist or give some respite time to another involved in a caring or advocacy role. I might spend time in prayer asking the Lord's help for the vulnerable and for the Spirit's guidance in other ways that I can respect and support life.


Through these and in many other possible ways I will surely make wonderful progress in forming and putting on the wedding garment begun with my baptism. A wedding garment that becomes more and more compelling and life enhancing because it is now shining bright with mercy and compassion and kindness.

































Please configure this download widget