October 12, 2014 – Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the first reading the prophet Isaiah speaks of a feast offered by the Lord: “The Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure choice wines.” Jesus tells a parable about a feast in the Gospel of Matthew, “Behold I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready. Come to the feast.” Note that the feast is provided for all peoples. Each of us is invited. Stewardship is a response to this invitation.
The feast to which Isaiah refers might be called in Biblical terms “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Jesus longs for this supper. At the Last Supper He states, “I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day that I drink it with you new in the Kingdom of my Father.” (Matthew 26: 29) The Feast about which Isaiah speaks is our salvation, that glorious moment when we are united with the Lord in Heaven.
In an indirect way St. Paul speaks of this same feast in his letter to the Philippians, our second reading. Throughout his letters Paul captures the essence of the stewardship way of life, and his comment to the Philippians is particularly apropos. Paul tells us “My God will supply whatever you need.” Of course, that is an important part of his message to the people of Philippi, but it is an important stewardship reference for us as well. Our trust in God, our understanding that God will indeed provide, and He will meet our every need, is what allows us to practice stewardship so freely. This does not mean that we merely sit back and wait for the Lord, but it does mean that we are willing to take the risk, to share freely and generously, knowing that we walk with the Lord and that He will, as Paul assures us, “meet our every need.”
The Philippians evidently had been generous to Paul and to his ministry. He acknowledges that in his letter. However, he also implies that it is equally important for them to be givers. It is reminiscent to that broad stewardship statement in Luke 6:38: “Give and it will be given to you: good measure…for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
“Many are invited, but few are chosen.” With those words Jesus closes His Parable of the Wedding Feast in the Gospel reading from Matthew. It is only seven words, but they are words filled with meaning for us. As mentioned, God invites all, and He invites often. However, to respond to the invitation we must hear it. (“He who has ears to hear; let him hear.”) Are we among those who truly hear the call and the invitation? In lives of stewardship, God works through us, and it is this presence of God in our lives and how we live them which brings us salvation. Thus, we must first hear the call, and then we must respond to it. As Jesus said on several occasions, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Are we active followers or merely passive listeners?