Word To Life
Sunday Scripture Readings, Oct. 9, 2011
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
October 9, Twenty-eighth Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle A Readings:
1) Isaiah 25:6-10a
2) Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14
I had just finished a very long and hectic Saturday morning working our neighborhood garage sale, and my empty stomach was growling in protest. As I entered my front door, my senses were welcomed by the sweet, buttery aroma of freshly baked cookies cooling on the pan. Homemade peanut butter chocolate chip, topped with chunks of chocolate peanut butter cups. Oh, bliss!
I was about to reach for one and was already imagining a glass of cold milk to go with it when my teenage daughter stopped me with the announcement that the cookies were not for household consumption.
"I'm going to my friend's house to finish a project for school and I'm taking the cookies," she informed me, "because I'm always going over there and I don't want to go empty-handed this time."
When I started to object, she reminded me that I had taught her that this is what one does as an invited guest. One prepares a gift to show one's appreciation for the invitation.
I'll admit that she had me there; how could I possibly argue? Her friend's parents' frequent hospitality was being acknowledged, and matched, by my daughter's luscious homemade gift given in return.
This Sunday's readings are filled with images of unreserved invitation, cordial hospitality -- and food! Not just enough food to get by, but mouthwatering, "juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines," an overflowing cup and a wedding feast of fattened cattle.
The gracious host, of course, is the Lord, who prepares an enticing banquet, issues the invitation and waits with undisguised yearning for us to accept the gift of his love, his body and blood presented as food. How crushingly disappointing it must be when we partake nonchalantly -- or worse yet, don't respond at all because we have "something better to do."
Bearing homemade cookies, a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers to the home of one's host or hostess might be an old-fashioned custom promulgated by grandmothers and mothers of days gone by. But it also bespeaks sincere thankfulness and an attitude of thoughtful preparation for receiving the gift of hospitality that is offered.
Accepting the Lord's invitation to his sacred meal deserves better than our empty hands and indifferent hearts.
When was the last time that you reflected on the abundance of God's love for you as a personal invitation anticipating your response? How do you prepare yourself to receive Jesus' banquet of the Eucharist?
SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:
"Everything is ready; come to the feast" (Matthew 22:4).
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