Sunday, October 15, 2017

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A


In this Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 1-14), Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the wedding banquet. A king invites guests to his son’s feast, but for various excuses they don't come: They made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. In a 2011 homily Pope Benedict gave on Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord's Supperthe ultimate wedding banquethe reminds us:
Parable of the Wedding Feast, 14th c. Russian icon
In his heart [Jesus] awaited the moment when he would give himself to his own under the appearance of bread and wine. He awaited that moment which would in some sense be the true messianic wedding feast: when he would transform the gifts of this world and become one with his own, so as to transform them and thus inaugurate the transformation of the world. In this eager desire of Jesus we can recognize the desire of God himselfhis expectant love for mankind, for his creation. A love which awaits the moment of union, a love which wants to draw mankind to itself and thereby fulfil the desire of all creation, for creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:19). Jesus desires us, he awaits us.
But what about ourselves? Do we really desire him? Are we anxious to meet him? Do we desire to encounter him, to become one with him, to receive the gifts he offers us in the Holy Eucharist? Or are we indifferent, distracted, busy about other things? From Jesus’ banquet parables we realize that he knows all about empty places at table, invitations refused, lack of interest in him and his closeness.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

In this Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 21: 33-43), Jesus reveals through the Parable of the Tenants the importance of responding to the call of God. He is always waiting for fruit to be borne in us, always looking for the "crop of good grapes" (Isaiah 5:2). We can choose to be like the unresponsive, wicked tenants, or be as the "good soil" that Jesus describes in his Parable of the Sower. Fr. Jean Danielou S.J., a French theologian of the 20th century, brings this point to light in this text from The Lord of History:
Parable of the Tenants, by Liberale da Verona (1441–1526)
God is the husbandman, expecting, hoping, desiring such great things from us. He prepared the soil in which our souls were to grow up and flourish; he ceases not to nourish, protect and encourage their growth, all our lives long. Every circumstance of our environment is an instance of God's care for us....
The point of the Song of the Vine is that it reveals how much store God sets by the spiritual profit of our lives, and how much he depends for this upon our help.... Some things are beyond our control, and temporal success is one of these; other things are at all times within our control, such as the spiritual response we make to the situations in which the Lord is pleased to put us, or the determination to find God in all the circumstances of our life, be they joys or crosses. If we do this, everything that happens to us is nourishment for the sap of that spiritual vine, namely our eternal soul, everything co-operates in its growth to perfection.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

This Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 21: 28-32) presents us with the short but powerful Parable of the Two Sons. The first son, when asked to work in the vineyard, finally did his father's will. The second son---although he verbally agreed---did not.

Yves de Montcheuil, a French priest, theologian and chaplain to the free French of Vercors during the Second World War, was executed by the army of occupation in 1944. Having remained faithful to Christ in life and in death, Fr. de Montcheuil reveals the importance of being attentive to the will of God and the beauty in accomplishing it:
The kingdom is for each one of us the response to a personal call; it means clinging to the personal will of God which varies for each one and likewise varies according to our circumstance. God's plan seen from the human angle is not a law established once and for all but a will revealed gradually according the needs of the Church and our personal capabilities.

Indeed the kingdom is not a place where we can sit back and relax. We have to be always following Jesus without knowing beforehand where we are going, ready to discern what God is expecting of us now. We must, then, keep careful watch, wakeful, attentive, and yet peaceful, to discern this living and evolving will of God. His demands on us can make us grow; he can ask of us tomorrow what he did not ask yesterday and so these demands engage us constantly in new ways. We need to examine our motives in all we do in order to hold ourselves in readiness for God.