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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | God invites all to His heavenly banquet

The readings for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time aren't recommended for anyone who wants to remain joyless, bored, depressed, discouraged and driven to accomplish everything that leaves him or her empty.

These readings spell the destruction of all the above, containing an invitation to an unimaginable banquet. We need only take the time to forsake our joyless toys and endless activities that leave us frustrated, exhausted and depressed — and come to enjoy everything our hearts could ever desire.

The host of this banquet is God, who longs for nothing more than that we receive everything to make us happy and fulfilled. The invitation to this banquet reads: "On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines."

For those who can handle it, a glass of wine with a fine meal cheers up the heart, enlivens conversation and aids digestion. However, there's an allusion to a different kind of wine, the new wine of the Holy Spirit. There's no limit to the joy the Holy Spirit brings us if only we take the silent time to drink in His presence and allow His presence to fill our inner spirit with the inner life and joy of the Most Holy Trinity.

The invitation continues: "On this mountain He will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; He will destroy death forever." God tells us that the pall of death that hangs incessantly over our lives will be destroyed.

He continues: "On that day it will be said: 'Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!' for the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain."

My response is: "Lord, say no more! I am on my way. Why has it taken me so long to realize that you have a better plan for my life than do I? I have often read this invitation before, but I simply was not ready. I had too many projects to complete and deceived myself into believing that they were all your projects. I now gladly trade in everything in exchange for everything you are and everything you want of me. Finally, when we behold you face to face, we will be filled with incredible and unimaginable joy forever and ever!"

If you thought that Isaiah's invitation was great, what about Jesus' invitation in the Gospel to come to His wedding feast, thrown by our heavenly Father? Our heavenly Father is inviting us to the wedding feast of His son, Jesus, whose bride is the Church, and we are all part of His bride.

Those who refused to come couldn't tear themselves away from their chosen occupation. Others went even further and killed the servants who were inviting the guests.

They didn't want their way of life interrupted by this invitation that calls them away from their favorite occupation or distraction. Since they know not where their life is going, they need to keep busy so as not to think about what they can't control. They simply wanted to do away with those who remind them of the futility of their feverish activity.

Do we see any parallel between these ungrateful guests and today's secularists who label Christian virtues as hate? This means that we should really rejoice if any of our Christian behavior disturbs others in our society.

Jesus Himself told us, "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven."

The more time I spend in silence reflecting on these Scriptural verses spelling out the invitation to come Jesus' wedding feast, the greater will be my joy. Reflecting on these invitations to come to the wedding feast distracts me from my life's projects, from centering myself on my ego concerns. Silence and the word of God bring God's invitation alive within me.

The selection from Psalm 23 spells it out so well. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures He gives me repose; beside restful waters He leads me; He refreshes my soul."

Whenever silent time spent reflecting on God's word distracts me from my life's preoccupation to accomplish something, I am filled with incredible joy. That is when I realize that God's invitation is itself the menu, and when I take the time to taste the menu, I am already anticipating the heavenly banquet.

Remember that the more you taste and take in God's word in silence, the more you will become a target for all those who do not want to be reminded that they are not on their way to eternal life. That is an incredible blessing you are bringing to others.

At that point God will take over and work on them with His word and His way of arranging the proper frustrations in their lives that eventually will lead them to the same Father for whom you are witnessing.

Your faith life is an incredible gift to every one of your friends who no longer go to church. If your life bothers them and they in turn bother you, rejoice because our Father is preparing a wonderful banquet for you. 

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