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IHS Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi—23 June AD 2019 Second Sunday after Pentecost Ave Mar


“There is no other nation so great, that has “gods” so near to them, as our God is present to all of our petitions”[1].

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If these words of Moses were true for the chosen Jewish people, we must consider that God is even closer to the people of His Church. Wherever the Catholic Faith is practiced according to the traditional manner, Jesus Christ, God, the Son of God, dwells in His entirety in the tabernacles of our churches. At any time we can kneel before the altar, where “our God is present to all our petitions.” The Catechism tells us that “God is everywhere,”[2] which, of course, is true—but Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament in a physical way that exists nowhere else in the Universe.

Perhaps even more unique is the fact that He invites us to take His physical presence into our own in Holy Communion. Nowhere else are Moses' words better confirmed than they are in the Eucharistic Banquet. God is our Host—but more than being a Host, He is intimately joined with all His guests, thereby knowing our every aspiration; every want, every need, every way in which we can be made perfect and drawn closer to Him.

Beyond comforting us, and sometimes fulfilling material needs and wants, our Lord has promised us that: “He who eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has everlasting life: and I will raise him up on the last day.”[3] Think about what that means—“everlasting life”—if God gave us every material thing we ever asked for—from that little red wagon, on up to a Mercedes and an ocean going yacht—all of these things would pale in comparison with the joy of everlasting life!

But the awful truth is that very many people fail to make full (or even partial) use of God’s Eucharistic plenty. Many rarely attend the Eucharistic banquet that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—some never do. (And let us not forget that wherever the Church is reasonably well established, Mass is offered seven days of the week, and not just on Sunday. Quite likely, that is why the Church has us read this Gospel from Saint Luke today, so shortly after Corpus Christi. Saint Matthew gives an account of what seems to be the same parable, and it is worth reading the two together.[4]

Luke’s account has the invitees making frivolous excuses as to why they won’t attend the master’s supper. In modern terms the excuses might be “the banquet is too early, and I need to sleep” … “the banquet will last more than a half an hour, and I cannot afford that much time” … “I have nothing to wear” … “I have just married a wife and therefore cannot come.” In other words, if we understand the value of eternal life we will make every effort to attend daily Mass, and will excuse ourselves for only the most serious of reasons.

Matthew’s account of the parable is similar, adding that the banquet is being given by a king in honor of his son’s wedding. One would expect most people to be honored by their invitation—but the result is the same—most “neglected, and went their own ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise.” Some were even violent with the king’s servants![5]

You may recall that Matthew’s account ends with the king finding a man at the dinner who failed to put on one of the wedding garments provided by the king. When it is read on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, this will move some priests to preach about the proper way to dress for Mass—probably not a bad thing, considering that modern day Catholics seem to be leading the “casual revolution.” When I was a boy, people dressed up for special public occasions—going to the theatre, going to a restaurant, flying on an airliner, attending a wedding. or any type of celebratory reception—above all, when going to church (that’s why they called it “your Sunday best” even at a Friday night concert). Men wore suits, with white shirts and ties; women wore dresses, hats, and maybe even long gloves.

Perhaps, none of these dress customs were truly “necessary,” but they did show respect for one’s fellow participants, those who made the event “happen” (the wait-staff, musicians, performers, the flight crew, etc.) the honored guests, and perhaps respect for one’s own self. In church, “respect” rose to the height of “reverence,” something often missing today.

I am not trying to preach that sermon today, so let me drop back to my standard advice about dressing for Mass: God is more important; more deserving of respect and reverence than any public official. If you are able to attend Sunday Mass, imagine that you had been invited to dinner by an important public person—perhaps the Governor, or one of your Senators—how would you dress for that? That is how to dress for Mass.

It may be perfectly reasonable to attend Mass in one’s uniform or other work-clothes—one does what he must do—particularly apart from Sundays; but even on Sundays. Far better to attend than to abstain.

But there is an even greater significance to the guest without wedding attire. As I said, the king provided the garment—a sort of outer wrap worn over ones regular clothing (which was much like the alb and cincture worn by the priest at Mass). The guest was insulting the king by denying the custom.

At Holy Mass, the Eucharistic Banquet, our Lord provides a special garment for our souls. It is called “Sanctifying Grace,” and it makes our souls beautiful and pleasing to God. Indeed, this garment should be worn at all times, for we are always in God's holy presence. If we are so unfortunate as to lose Sanctifying Grace, God will freely restore it if we but make a Sacramental Confession of our sins.

Be sure to wear this garment always—but especially for Mass and Holy Communion. We don't want to be thrown out into the “exterior darkness,” where as our Lord says: “many are called, but few are chosen.”[6] Make use of the invitation to attend Mass as frequently as you can! Do recognize that our God is especially close to us—closer than any fictional “gods” of the pagans; closer than the chosen people of Israel; for the Church is the Bride of Christ, and we are His spouse.

NOTES:

[1] Deuteronomy iv:7 http://www.drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drl&bk=5&ch=4&l=7-#x

[2] Baltimore Catechism, Lesson 2, Q.16 https://www.catholicity.com/baltimore-catechism/lesson02.html

[3] John vi:55 http://www.drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drl&bk=50&ch=6&l=55-#x

[4] Gospel: Luke xiv:16-24 http://www.drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drl&bk=49&ch=14&l=16-#x Matthew xxii:1-14 (19th Sunday after Pentecost) http://www.drbo.org/x/d?b=drl&bk=47&ch=22&l=1-#x

[5] Matthew ibid. verses 5-6.

[6] Matthew, ibid., 13-14 http://www.drbo.org/x/d?b=drl&bk=47&ch=22&l=13-#x

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