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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

28th SUNDAY (A) OCTOBER 15, 2017

Isaiah 25: 6-10; Psalm 23; Philippians 4: 12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22: 1-14

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

 

The 28th

Sunday of

Ordinary

Time

I really can’t resist the first reading from Isaiah because I have heard it at many funerals, including those of my parents. How could one not be drawn to a reading that describes a table carefully and lovingly set with "rich food and choice wines?" It sounds like a meal at my grandparents’ home at Christmas. Isaiah goes overboard in his description as he elaborates, "... juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines." It makes one want to smack one’s lips in anticipation of this feast God is so carefully preparing "on this mountain."

Last week we heard the image of the vineyard which portrayed God’s loving care for the people of Israel and for all humankind. Today, we are invited to imagine a rich banquet on a holy and safe mountain, as another sign of God’s endless love and care for us. The meal is also a type for the messianic banquet God will prepare for people who feel hopeless and who long for the day of the Lord. It is a longing expressed throughout the Hebrew scriptures, especially in the Psalms (e.g. "My soul waits for the Lord who is our help and our shield." Ps 33:20)

In the previous chapter Isaiah described the coming of the day of judgment. Even the earth will suffer the consequences of people’s sins: "the earth lies polluted (24:5)…the wine dries up, the vine languishes (v. 7)...all joy has reached its eventide; all gladness of the earth is banished" ( v.11). Israel felt divine judgment in a very special way, she was taken into exile. The preceding chapter 24 ends with the prediction of cosmic collapse, a punishment for breaking the covenant.

As God’s mouthpiece Isaiah spoke a word of hope to the Israelites who had returned from their exile, but were now under Persia, the ruling world power (Isaiah chapters 24-27). He reminded the people that just as God had freed them from slavery, so God would do it again and bring the people to a place of safety and encounter with God. There, God would care for them and serve them the best food and drink. Isaiah, like preachers today, spoke a word of hope, on God’s behalf, to people under harsh circumstances.

Isaiah said the banquet would be on a mountain. Mountains were special places primitive people would go to be and converse with the deities. Today, we come to this worship place, this "holy mountain," where we listen to and converse with our God in the liturgy of the Word. Then, on this mountain, God fulfills the promise to feed us the best food and drink God can provide, Jesus our Messiah and Savior.

What word of hope do those who come to church today need to hear? We all need to hear God’s intention to bring us some relief from what presses us down and what scatters our minds with anxiety. The God Isaiah presents to us today is a God of surprises and reversals, whom we can hope in with confidence for what we have not yet seen, nor imagined at this moment?

The prophet is not out of touch with our human condition. In the previous chapters he gave a catalog of hardships we humans suffer: war, deprivation, natural disasters, etc. But he holds up hope for us as he presents the "God of Reversals." We hear many references to this God in the Scriptures. For example, in Mary’s "Magnificat" and in the angel Gabriel’s promise to her, "For nothing will be impossible with God" (1:37). Today we are promised that God is preparing a table for those who are "veiled" by death and who weep tears of pain and loss. God can break in at any time in our lives and change what seems impossible in the light of current events. This "God of Reversals" is the one Isaiah invites us to listen to and hope in at our at the banquet table today.

Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s promise. He provided a rich meal for all people. During his lifetime he showed preference at his table for the poor, despised and unacceptable. Those with whom he ate reveal his desire for us. We who gather at this Eucharist, the table of "rich food and choice wine," must also welcome the least, not only to our table, but also into our lives, as Jesus did. At our table should be his favored guests – the poor, outsider and disregarded.

In the gospel today we seem to leave Isaiah’s hospitable and peaceful banquet table. Matthew also emphasizes the importance of the meal. But it is not just a feast, but a wedding banquet for a king’s son and there is an urgent need for those who receive the invitation to respond. In Jesus, God has inaugurated a new reign.

and set a table for the long-awaited messianic banquet. Isaiah promised God’s actions in the future, but Matthew proclaims the presence now of God’s reign and a response to the invitation, to come, eat and celebrate, is required.

Jesus tells the parable because his ways have been criticized by the "chief priests and elders of the people." They have rejected him so now he turns to and welcomes the poor, sinners, and outsiders. Matthew emphasizes, not only the importance of the meal, but the urgent need we have to respond to God’s invitation to feast. In the parable those who did respond to the invitation, "bad and good alike," did so with alacrity and enthusiasm. They knew a good thing when they heard it and so grasped it immediately, filling the banquet hall just as the king had wanted for his son.

As we gather at the banquet table in worship today look around. Who is at the table with us? Is it an inclusive table where all are respected and fed? Do we feel welcome, if we are an "outsider?" Or, if we are one of the "regulars," how do we welcome people we do not recognize or who, from their clothing, race and language, differ from us?

Isaiah tells us the feast is meant for all people. As Jesus’ disciples we are called, not only to the table, but to make sure it is a table of welcome for all

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/101517.cfm

QUOTABLE

Teach me to feel another’s woe,

To hide the fault I see;

That mercy I to others show,

That mercy show to me.

—Alexander Pope, "The Universal Prayer"

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples

Isaiah 25: 6

This weekend we are celebrating "Mission at Home" with a ministry fair and parish picnic hosted by the Living Faith Committee from 8AM to 3PM. Next Sunday, October 22, we celebrate World Mission Sunday and we encourage everyone to participate in the Crop Hunger Walk as part of the world mission to end hunger and to financially support missions abroad. In this way, we have two special weekends to highlight our call as the laity to reform the world into the Beloved Community of mankind.

In his Message for World Mission Day 2017, Pope Francis writes, "This Day invites us to reflect anew on the mission at the heart of the Christian faith. The Church is missionary by nature; otherwise, she would no longer be the Church of Christ, but one group among many others that soon end up serving their purpose and passing away. So it is important to ask ourselves certain questions about our Christian identity and our responsibility as believers in a world marked by confusion, disappointment and frustration, and torn by numerous fratricidal wars that unjustly target the innocent. What is the basis of our mission? What is the heart of our mission? What are the essential approaches we need to take in carrying out our mission?"

This Sunday, decide which "Mission at Home" God may be calling you to from among the many social justice ministries we have here in our parish. Along the way, build relationships with new parishioners.

On World Mission Sunday, the entire Church is invited to support the young mission dioceses in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and parts of Latin America and Europe, where priests, religious and lay leaders serve the poorest of the poor. This year, we are reminded by Pope Francis that Mission is at the Heart of Christian Faith. We are invited to "Chat with the Pope" to learn more about his missions. Scan this year’s World Mission Sunday poster using Facebook Messenger for your mobile device, or learn more at www.ChatWithThePope.org

For the Crop Hunger Walk, go to: https://www.crophungerwalk.org/raleighnc and join/support the Hinds Family team, HNOJ parishioners.

You too can be a missionary!

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral

Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Isaiah reading:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples,

a feast of rich food and choice wines.

Reflection:

What Isaiah promised, Jesus has provided for us, a rich meal for all people. During his lifetime Jesus showed preference at his table for the poor, despised and unacceptable. They were his favored guests. We who gather at this Eucharist, the table of "rich food and choice wine," must also welcome the least, not only to our table, but also into our lives, as Jesus did.

So we ask ourselves:

As we look around at our worshiping community:

  • Who is at the table with us?
  • Is our assembly an inclusive one?
  • Who are not represented among us? Why?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"The use of the death penalty cannot really be mended. It should be ended."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Paul A. Brown #0051026 (On death row since 8/11/00)
  • Timothy L. White #0434845 (8/31/00)
  • Michael D. Holmes #0189289 (9/8/00)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P. - St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: http://www.PreacherExchanhe.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

(These CDs have been updated twice in the last five years.)

2. "Homilias Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: http://www.PreacherExchange.com/ - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilias Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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