The Hope that Belongs to Our Call

by Susanna Mak

God is good! Throughout this week’s readings, the fullness of God’s goodness is revealed through the imagery of a feast. The Prophet Isaiah portrays a scene of jubilation and richness never seen before; all of which comes from the mercy and compassion of the Lord God. St. Paul tells the Philippians the secret of the good life; that it has nothing to do with being well-fed or hungry, nor living in abundance or being in need, rather, it is a conviction; an attitude and a belief that God “will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4: 19). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast in which the king generously invites everyone, “bad and good alike” to the wedding feast of his son (Mt 22:10).

The mountain-top feast, described by Isaiah, and the secret to living with abundance, described by St. Paul, both point towards Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the only Son of God; Jesus, who presents himself as the protagonist in the parable of the wedding feast, is the one thread that connects the old and the new. The parable of the wedding feast is “an allegory of salvation history culminating in Jesus”; Jesus is the groom at the wedding feast, the king represents God, the servants sent by the king are the Old Testament prophets who are called “to summon Israel”, unfortunately many of whom were mistreated and even killed (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible 46). When the first invited guests reject the invitation, the king then sends other servants to invite “the bad and good”; they are the apostles sent to bring the Good News to the Gentiles (Ibid). At the wedding banquet, the king notices that one guest is “without a wedding garment”; when questioned, “he was reduced to silence” (Mt 22:12). This unfortunate guest, bound and thrown-out into the darkness outside, represents those who lack “righteous deeds that accompany faith (Catholic Study Bible 22:11). In other words, though they might have accepted the call, they are unprepared. Though exceptional richness is offered without conditions, not everyone invited or called accepts this priceless opportunity and follows through. Why would some reject or unwilling to follow through with this call?

Oftentimes, our vision can be easily distorted by our own version of a good life; one that is filled with abundance and comfort, and is never troubled by challenges nor interrupted by sadness. Yet, we almost never feel completely content. The more we wish for, the more discontent we become. Is this truly a good life; a life that God has in store for us? This week’s Responsorial Psalm rings true, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Ps 23:1). In the Lord, a feast of “rich food and choice wines” has been prepared for us; Jesus Himself has destroyed “the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations” (Is 25:6-7). Jesus is that one foretold in Isaiah who will “destroy death forever” (Is 25:8). Since the final enemy has been destroyed by Christ, of whom shall we be afraid? Throughout Paul’s ministry, he has made a point of being self-sufficient and not burdening the local communities with his financial and physical needs, but he has always been gracious to those who supported him along the way. Paul understands the “secret” of the good life: whether being “well fed” or “going hungry”; “living in abundance” or “being in need”, he can “do all things in [God] who strengthens [him]” (Phil 4:12-13).

Like Paul and the prophets, we can rest assured that God will “fully supply whatever [we] need in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). For God is “merciful and gracious, slow in anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 103:8). There is only one condition: to say “yes” to the king’s invitation; to say “yes” to the call of love everyday; to say “yes” with courage and joy!