Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the Year (Year A)
October 6, 2011
Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
Bl. Pope John Paul II, Wednesday Audience of 18 September 1991
Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son”. The parable of the wedding feast presents the kingdom of God as a royal–and therefore sovereign–undertaking by God himself. It also includes the theme of love, and precisely of spousal love: the son for whom the father is preparing the wedding feast is the bridegroom. The circumstances indicate his presence and allow us to understand who he is. This will appear clearly in other New Testament texts which identify the Church as the bride. In this parable instead, there is a clear indication of who the bridegroom is. It is Christ, who establishes the Father’s new covenant with humanity. This is a covenant of love, and the kingdom of God itself appears as a communion (community of love), which the Son establishes through the Father’s will. The feast is the expression of this communion. In the context of the economy of salvation described by the Gospel, it is not difficult to see in this wedding feast a reference to the Eucharist: the sacrament of the new and eternal covenant, the sacrament of the marriage of Christ and humanity in the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at the Canonization of 4 Blesseds
[T]he Gospel, with the parable of the marriage feast, makes us reflect on the human response. Several of those first invited refused the invitation because they were attracted by different interests; others even disdained the king’s invitation, provoking a punishment that afflicted not only them but also the entire city. However, the king was not discouraged and sent his servants out to seek other guests to fill his banquet hall. Thus the aspect of the refusal of those initially invited caused the invitation to be extended to all, with a special predilection for the poor and the disadvantaged. This is what occurred in the Paschal Mystery: the force of evil is defeated by the omnipotence of God’s love. The Risen Lord can now invite everyone to the banquet of Paschal joy and he himself can provide the guests with a wedding garment, symbol of the free gift of sanctifying grace.
Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis
Reflecting on this mystery, we can say that Jesus’ coming responded to an expectation present in the people of Israel, in the whole of humanity and ultimately in creation itself. By his self-gift, he objectively inaugurated the eschatological age. Christ came to gather together the scattered People of God and clearly manifested his intention to gather together the community of the covenant, in order to bring to fulfilment the promises made by God to the fathers of old. In the calling of the Twelve, which is to be understood in relation to the twelve tribes of Israel, and in the command he gave them at the Last Supper, before his redemptive passion, to celebrate his memorial, Jesus showed that he wished to transfer to the entire community which he had founded the task of being, within history, the sign and instrument of the eschatological gathering that had its origin in him. Consequently, every eucharistic celebration sacramentally accomplishes the eschatological gathering of the People of God. For us, the eucharistic banquet is a real foretaste of the final banquet foretold by the prophets (cf. Is 25:6-9) and described in the New Testament as “the marriage-feast of the Lamb” (Ap 19:7-9), to be celebrated in the joy of the communion of saints.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 796
The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist. The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.” The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him. (citing Mt 22: 1-14) The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb. “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 273
Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ’s power.(citing Phil 4:13) The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that “nothing will be impossible with God”, and was able to magnify the Lord: “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
St. Gregory the Great, Homilies on the Gospel, 38
Here, by the wedding-feast is denoted the present Church; there, by the supper, the last and eternal feast. For into this enter some who shall perish; into that whosoever has once entered in shall never be put forth. But if any should maintain that these are the same lessons, we may perhaps explain that that part concerning the guest who had come in without a wedding garment, which Luke has not mentioned, Matthew has related. That the one calls it supper, the other dinner, makes no difference; for with the ancients the dinner was at the ninth hour, and was therefore often called supper.
Origen: The kingdom of heaven, in respect of Him who reigns there, is like a king; in respect of Him who shares the kingdom, it is like a king’s son; in respect of those things which are in the kingdom, it is like servants and guests, and among them the king’s armies. It is specified, “A man that is a king,” that what is spoken may be as by a man to men, and that a man may regulate men unwilling to be regulated by God. But the kingdom of heaven will then cease to be like a man, when zeal and contention and all other passions and sins having ceased, we (p. 740) shall cease to walk after men, and shall see Him as He is. For now we see Him not as He is, but as He has been made for us in our dispensation.
Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Ecclesiae Fastos
Whenever this divine love penetrates man’s hearts and shapes and guides them, they can make their own the words of Paul: “Nothing is beyond my powers, thanks to the strength God gives me;” (Phil 4:13) so that nothing can resist or frustrate their efforts–this the history of the Church teaches us. What took place in apostolic times is then wondrously repeated: “the utterance fills every land, the message reaches the ends of the world.” (Ps 18:5; Rom 10:18) In them the gospel of Jesus Christ has new sowers, men quickened by divine grace whom nothing can hold back, unless it be their chains, as is sadly evident in our times; only death can shackle them; and death, when made illustrious by the martyr’s palm, always stirs up new multitudes, brings forth new followers of the Divine Redeemer.
Sunday Preacher’s Resource: Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the Year (Year A)
Readings for Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the Year (Year A)
Additional Preaching Resources
- Fr. Francis Martin Website
- Biblius Clerus, a resource of the Congregation for the Clergy
- The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John