St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Maple Glen, Pennsylvania

Lessons and Reflections for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

The prophet Isaiah describes a day when the Lord God will redeem his people and restore them to the fullness of life.  The great feast on the mountain (Jersusalem) is a vivid picture of this time when death and sorrow are no more.  Isaiah was not likely thinking of a “heavenly banquet” or dwelling – but a future time when an exiled Israel would be restored to security and abundance by God’s mighty hand.

The 23rd Psalm, attributed to David, celebrates the loving care of God in a very personal way. This and other similar Psalms almost startle us with the intimacy of God’s awareness and involvement in our personal lives.

Matthew 22:1-14 contains two parables of Jesus. In the first parable he continues to explain and defend his ministry of gathering “bad” people from the margins of Jewish life into God’s banquet hall, while at the same time making the scandalous suggestion that his opponents are making light of God’s invitation that they claim to honor. The second parable points out that regardless of circumstances, those invited to God’s party must “change clothes” if they want to stay and enjoy the feast!

Speaking to the Philippians, Paul describes the kind of life that belongs to those who know the Lord as their Shepherd. Giving thanks and trusting God in everything, they know a new kind of peace and are focused on what is good, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Comment: We Christians understand the great feast of God, described by Isaiah, in light of Jesus who came to be himself the bread and wine at the feast.  Like David’s psalm, we celebrate the Lord who nourishes our lives in every necessary way, even in times of darkness and death.  But this amazing grace does not replace Jesus’ call upon me to repent – to change “clothes” to wear a new mindset that is given me by Christ. To be aware of God’s great invitation and loving call upon me immediately leads me to put on the “wedding garment” of a changed life that is lived for Christ and not for me!