Dear brothers and sisters, all the beloved ones in our Lord Jesus Christ, today we reflect together on the words of our Lord Jesus, when He told us the parable or the story about the banquet prepared by a king for his subjects, their rebelliousness and disobedience, as well as the welcoming of other guests deemed more worthy of the banquet of the king, and how a man without the proper wedding garment was cast out of the banquet into suffering and darkness.
St. Paul in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Ephesus, reminded them to keep strongly the faith in God, and how they should avoid all sorts of iniquities and evils, anger and wickedness, hatred and violence, and many other negativities often occurring in our own selves. Why is this so important? That is because what Jesus had told us in the parable of the banquet of the king refers to none other than our own lives and how we relate to the Lord our God, who is the King and Lord over all creations.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the king in the parable refers to the Lord our God, who prepared a great banquet for all of His subjects, and if we follow the story, these subjects refer to none other than mankind, that is all of us. We are the subjects of the Lord, and all of us are freely invited to take part in the banquet that the Lord had prepared for us. Great joy and happiness indeed await us in that great celebration we ought to have together with God, our King.
But as we can see, from how the invited guests treated the invitation from the king, and also how they treated the servants of the king who went to invite them to the feast, torturing and persecuting them, that this truly represent the sad truth about us mankind, and how we often act in life, in response to the loving kindness of our God, who has loved us so much, and yet who was repaid with much indifference if not outright hostility from His beloved children.
Let us first look at what the invited guests did, when they heard about the king inviting them to the feast and banquet. What did they do? Some of them went on with their daily business and routine, tending their farms and merchant businesses. They disregarded the call of the king, and some even violently treated the servants of the king sent to call on them. What did the servants do, to merit such a treatment? Nothing! It was the guests’ own selfishness and self-preservation attitudes that keep them from doing what is right and rational.
If we do not look at this carefully, we may simply dismiss this parable as a mere story and an imagination, nice to hear and to be listened to, but nothing more than that. That is the real danger of our indifference to the status of our own life and actions. Why is this so? That is because the parable refer to our own attitude when we deal with our Lord and God, as I have mentioned.
Can we ask ourselves and look deep into ourselves at the same time, on how many times that we have been called by the Lord to do something that is good, according to His laws and desires, and yet we dragged our feet and refused to listen and obey? How many of us also complained either openly or deep within our hearts, on the obligations we ought to fulfill as the part of the Church of God? Certainly, if we look at all these, our behaviour often mirror that of the invited guests in the parable.
But as we see again in the readings, that God is patient and ever-loving, and He is also wholly committed to those whom He loves. That is why He continues to send helper after helper, and servants after servants, to help us to get back on track, despite of our sinfulness and disobedience against His will, because the desire of the Lord is to have us all back towards Himself and be purified from our iniquities.
Unfortunately, many of us continued in our disobedience and rebellion, making it difficult for even these servants of God, and throughout history, challenges and difficulties often faced these faithful servants who devoted themselves to serve God. They persevered nonetheless, and despite facing suffering or even death, they continued to do their part to bring as many souls as possible back towards the Lord.
It is a clear and stern reminder for us brethren, that all of us good or bad, be it rich or poor, or whether we have committed things good or evil in our lives, we are welcome to come to the feast and banquet of our King, but then if we are not capable of changing our ways in accordance to what the Lord desires from us, then we will likely end up like those rebellious guests, who received destruction and death as their just reward. Thus, the same fate awaits us, if we are not vigilant and be careful with our actions.
And indeed, if we come to the banquet of the Lord, we must be properly prepared and attired, as all the guests ought to wear a suitable attire to attend such a lavish and wonderful occasion of celebration. Obviously no one would wear a dirty and unclean clothes to such an occasion, nor would anyone even wear their ordinary daily wear or sleeping wear to such an event. A proper ‘attire’ therefore is required, or else, the fate that the man without the proper wedding garment, will be ours as well.
This attire refers not just to the attire and the clothes that we wear on our externals, our suits and garments. Indeed, we have to wear the proper garment as we come to the banquet of the Lord. What is this banquet of the Lord itself? It is the Holy Mass! For the Holy Mass is the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, when He offered Himself in perfect obedience and humility, and love for us all, to be our redemption and salvation from our sins, the Lamb of God.
And remember when Jesus said that all those who eat the Bread of Life and drink from the Blood that brings salvation, they will no longer die but live eternally? That promise which Jesus had made was fulfilled in this holy sacrifice. That is because the Lord gave His own Body and Blood to all those who believe in Him, and we who have been baptised in His Name, share together the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, in the banquet of the Lord, that is the Holy Mass.
And when we come to the celebration of the Holy Mass, as I have mentioned, of course our external appearance and preparation must be immaculate. But it cannot be just that we dress neatly and properly for the celebration of the Mass, as it is not just the garment of our body that we have to prepare, but also the garment of our heart and soul.
Therefore, let us look deep into ourselves, and how we usually act and do during the celebration of the Holy Mass, the banquet of our King. Are we really present in the celebration of the Holy Mass and are we in the church to focus ourselves to the love of God which He had shown by the shedding of His own Body and Blood? Should we not honour our Lord and King who had given so much for our sake?
Let us all remember these questions and facts, whenever we are tempted to do what is not right, and whenever we are tempted to talk among ourselves and among our friends, to use our phones and to play games instead of being really present in the Holy Mass. And let us also be reminded of this, whenever in our lives we are tempted to forsake our tenets of faith, and all of its principles for the sake of convenience and acceptance by the world.
Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask our Almighty Father, to be with us at all times, empowering us with His love and presence, that we may be awakened even more strongly to His love and devotion, so that we may no longer follow the path of sin and debauchery, but in humility and true devotion, seek His mercy and loving embrace. Let us together worship our Lord and King, and partake together with full preparedness, of body and heart and soul, the banquet of our Lord! Amen.