28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
The Word This Week
The Church’s year is drawing to a close: in a few weeks we will be thinking very clearly about the end of time - but here we have a preview. The parable of the banquet is a link between the Gospels of recent weeks (which have as their theme: ‘Just who is going to be saved?’) and the looking forward to the end times which will follow. The big danger is complacency: we are baptised, we go to Church, we’ve got our invites to the wedding. But when the big day comes, will we be ready for it? Or will our thoughts be on the other things of life? Jesus speaks of himself as the Bridegroom, and today points out to the chosen people that they are in danger of missing the celebration. Our faith is that the Bridegroom will come again; let us be careful that the same parable is not addressed to us.
Notes for Readers
First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10.
“Almighty God requests the pleasure of your company at a banquet to be held in his honour at the end of time”. This is the meaning of this reading - it is an invitation to take part in something wonderful. It should, therefore, be read in an inviting tone of voice, but with a sense of wonder thrown in, because the things offered at this feast are truly remarkable: the end of mourning, the end of death. Some words are naturally full of expression: ‘fine wines...food rich and juicy’ - enjoy reading them. There is also the amazing comfort offered by the reading: use great tenderness to read ‘wipe away the tears from every cheek’: there will certainly be someone recently bereaved in the congregation: ask yourself how the Lord wants you to speak these words of his to them. There should be a tangible atmosphere of awe in your reading, coupled with the great sense of joy and excitement which the last few lines speak of. Perhaps it will help your reading if you think about the fact that the Eucharistic Banquet, at which we read, is itself a foretaste of the banquet described in the reading. Let your sense of what the Mass is inform your reading, and let this reading inform you about what the Mass is.
Second Reading: 4:12-14.19-20.
Paul signs off his letter in a rather abrupt way: notice the short phrases and sentences. Don’t try to string them together as a complex passage - just read them in a matter of fact way. Paul is telling the people of Philippi not to worry about him in his trials - whatever happens, he has all he needs (when reading, enjoy the phrase ‘full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty’). Something that comes from this reading very strongly is this: talk to the congregation. Don’t just read because the words are in front of you: Paul has something to say to them today. Let him say it!