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
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
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
for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
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"
mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples
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
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
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
For the Crop Hunger Walk, go to:
and join/support the Hinds Family team, HNOJ parishioners.
You too can be a missionary!
Director of Social
Holy Name of Jesus
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:
mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples,
a feast of
rich food and choice wines.
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
For more information on the Catholic position on the death
penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
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St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
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