On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines—juicy, rich food; and pure, choice wines.
Wow! Not just rich food and choice wines, but JUICY rich food and PURE, choice wines. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?
And it is! This is an image of the heavenly banquet. An endless feast to look forward to! It is good to often think of the divine meal which awaits us. It is said that the spiritual life is lived between two extremes—between that of presumption and the other of despair. Between having things so good that we could tend to live like we don’t need God, and then, on the other side, having things so bad that we do not think we are worthy of His Mercy or find ourselves losing hope because of the difficulties of life.
Some folks might live their lives experiencing one extreme and then the other. Other folks tend to sway from one side to the other but stay pretty close to the middle.
It is also a good spiritual practice to be mindful of the following: When one is feeling good, content, full of consolation, remember in your thanksgiving for these blessings that times of trial, difficulties, and suffering will probably come.This is not to say we should have a negative attitude or walk around looking like a deer caught in the headlights, but that we are mindful enough so that when trouble comes we aren’t caught off guard and cast into despair. On this side of eternity we have to suffer. Suffering is in the end a mystery, and as they say, “such is life.”
Yes, we can be tempted toward despair. Our cross may seem heavy from the unceasing burden of suffering one disappointment after another. Sometimes we can be thrown down into the gloom following a sudden trauma: A loss, illness, or failure can be culprits.
When we face troubles in life, whether they be great or small, it is good to call to mind the good times. We can remember those blessed times when we’ve experienced happiness and joy in our lives. Perhaps, in remembering of the carefree times, we might see that there was some great burden we carried before knowing a great blessing—and thus we recognize that Jesus does deliver us from difficulties. We can, with His help, make it through. Jesus has shown Himself to be faithful to us, and will do so again!
Think often of eternity. The Lord gives us many consoling images of what He has prepared for us in the life to come. Heaven is where “the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face.” Yes, we can look forward to the time He promises us when there will be “no more death and sorrow, crying or pain.”
Most of us look forward to Friday. It marks the end of the work week and the beginning of a couple of days of leisure. How much more so would it be helpful for us to look forward to the time when we enter eternity? Days of leisure, joy, and endless peace with our loved ones and the saints in glory!
It is helpful to remember also that Our Blessed Lord suffered in His life among us. He knows the trials we can face. He is sympathetic.
In the Gospel we are presented with a parable that speaks of a wedding feast. With the help of the Church fathers we can better understand what the Good Lord is trying to tell us. The wedding feast can be seen as an image of heaven. The king represents God the Father; and his son, the groom, is our Blessed Lord Jesus. The marriage is the wedding of Christ and His Church, of which we are members. The king first invites His beloved people Israel, but they refuse to come.
He then sends his servants and many of them are killed. These represent the prophets whom God sent time and again. The Jewish people were taught right from wrong but turned away: Some worshipped false gods; others took His name in vain; some turned to fornication, drunkenness, and other evils. In His love the prophets were sent.
Now we see a sign of God’s mercy as He then invites EVERY body to the feast. Then we are shown a symbol of judgment.
When the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said . . . “Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Many are invited, but few are chosen.
The Church fathers and spiritual writers tell us the “wedding garment” can represent the virtue of charity in which all followers of Our Lord should be clothed. Our love is shown in our good deeds toward neighbor and devoted service to God.
But, it is not always easy to love our neighbor and it is not easy to face troubles. Sometimes our neighbor and our troubles are one in the same. St. Paul says, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” And we can!
It is not an accident that the Lord uses an image of a wedding feast to reveal the eternal banquet of heaven. Central to our faith, from day one, is the Holy Mass where we are given a foretaste of heaven through the Eucharist and the diving liturgy. Through Holy Communion, we receive Jesus who strengthens us. It is here that we can discover in a most excellent way the One in whom we can do all things.
There was a priest who once told a friend of mine that, “The way I figure it, there is not much that I can’t handle between two Holy Communions.”
This is a great attitude for a Christian to have; a good way of looking at life for you and me. For us it is not so much “Thank God it’s Friday,” but “Thank God it is almost Sunday.” Sunday Mass is where I can receive my Lord in Holy Communion, giving thanks for another week He has helped me through. And thank God this Sunday I can receive from His real presence the love, the healing, and the strength to make it through another week.
If we strive to always be worthy to receive Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, we will be transformed into what we receive. God is love. By being transformed into love by the wonder of this “bread from heaven” we will find ourselves properly dressed for the wedding banquet. We will be clothed in love and made holy by the reception of Jesus Himself—body, blood, soul, and divinity.
May Mary, the Holy Mother of God, help us to always be deserving of receiving so great a guest in our souls: Jesus, Her beloved Son.
Father William Kuchinsky is a diocesan priest, a member of the board of directors of American Life League, and spiritual advisor to the board.