October 15, 2023 — Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
IS 25:6-10A; P S23:1-6; PHIL 4:12-14, 19-20; MT 21:1-14 or 22:1-10
How easy it is, especially in these times, to be consumed by the cares and distractions of the “here and now,” forgetting about what matters most — living for the Kingdom of Heaven. The stewardship way of life, with its emphasis on the virtuous use of our Time, Talent and Treasure, allows us to embrace daily life and all its demands — with eternity in mind.
In our First Reading, the prophet Isaiah paints a beautiful and compelling picture of what we can hope for in Heaven. “The LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” And not only that, our loving Father will personally heal us of each and every suffering we endured during our lives. “The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face.”
How can we say “no” to such an enticing invitation? Yet, so often we are tempted to do just that. We ignore our relationship with God, neglect our prayer and sacramental life, and the call to put others ahead of ourselves. We prioritize the “immediate” over the “eternal.”
How do we keep focused on the Kingdom of Heaven? St. Paul shares his secret for an eternity-driven life. In our Second Reading from his Letter to the Philippians, Paul says, “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.” In other words, Paul has learned to live the stewardship way of life.
What is the secret? It is this: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” How? Through this: “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” It is so simple! But it is not easy. It takes both courage and humility to live this way. God will supply these to us if we ask.
In our Gospel passage from Matthew, we return to the image of a feast. To describe the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus shares the parable of a wedding feast that a king gives for his son. The king sends several groups of servants to call the invited guests to come and join the feast. By virtue of our Baptism, we are the “invited guests” that Jesus is describing. How do the invited guests respond? The first group of guests refuses to come. Among the second group of guests, “some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.” Is this how we respond?
Our Heavenly Father is continuously inviting us (reminding us, prodding us) to come and join Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not in a far-off future, but right here and right now. If we will put Him first, partake of the sacraments He gives us (especially the gift of His own Son in the Eucharist) we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven right now. And our example can lead others to join us.
So let us embrace the stewardship way of life today! Let us put God first with our Time, our Talents and our Treasure, knowing that we can do all of this through Christ Who gives us strength. God is calling to us today to live with eternity in mind. If we do this, we will be feasting now and forever!