Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 15, 2017)
The prophet Isaiah chose the imagery of a sumptuous banquet provided by the Lord as a way to offer hope to the Israelites during their period of exile in Babylon.
There will come a day when the God whom they look for to save them will come among them and bring them back to the holy mountain, Jerusalem. There he will provide a sumptuous feast for them. The veil that has separated them from him will be lifted and death will be destroyed. God himself will wipe their tears from their eyes and they will see him face to face.
Jesus uses the same banquet image in the Gospels when he speaks about the kingdom of God. All are invited to share in the banquet of the kingdom. Sadly some will choose not to attend, and a few will even abuse and kill those sent to invite them. Jesus came among us with the invitation to share in his Father’s banquet, and some in their foolishness put him to death.
The Eucharist we share in today is the banquet of the Lord, and a sign of the eternal banquet to come. Jesus is the shepherd leading his flock to the holy mountain. He is also the host of the banquet, and most amazing of all, he is the Food we are given to eat at the banquet. His Body and Blood are certainly the richest of food and the choicest of wines.
Knowing the magnificent riches of this Eucharistic feast made it possible for St. Paul to learn to cope with the times of plenty and the times of little that he experiences on his earthly journey. The God who feeds him is the source of his strength to face anything that comes his way. God is also the basis for his gratitude
for the gifts that the Philippians have sent him while he’s in prison. Paul reminds them, as Isaiah did long ago: God will supply their needs fully, in a way worthy of his magnificent riches in Jesus.
Today’s readings give us more than a little food for thought:
God is providing a banquet that will fulfill our needs, both here and hereafter.
We must be wise and choose to share in the banquet he is providing.
The banquet of Eucharist gives us the nourishment we will need to handle anything that comes our way in this life.
When God is the only source of our strength, then we will be generous in sharing all that we have.
May Jesus, our shepherd, our host, and our banquet food, give us the courage to live each day with the strength he provides.