Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jesus Likes a Good Party

“Behold, I have prepared my banquet…”  (Matthew 22:4)
I have a very dear friend who throws parties that are the stuff of legend.  She plans every detail.  Invites all her family and friends.  And you know you have been to one of her parties when the party ends and you think to yourself, “Wow, I partied too much.”  We all look forward to a good party. We enjoy the eating, the drinking (in moderation, of course), the dancing and the joy that comes in sharing that occasion with friends.  Now, weddings are parties on steroids.  So much planning goes into every single detail.  I sometimes lament that couples spend too much time preparing for the wedding day and party instead of for the actual sacrament of marriage.  Brides spend hours on their wedding day preparing for their big day. So many things are happening behind the scenes to make the wedding feast unique and memorable.  But today’s readings challenge us with a simple question:  Do we prepare properly and in the same manner for the feast that we celebrate here every Sunday?  You see, Jesus likes a good party.  Throughout the gospel we read how he was at parties and ministered to the people there.  In fact, he performed his first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana.  So as Christians, we take our cue from our Master and realize that being festive and enjoying parties is part of the joy that we share as sons and daughters of God.  But do we give secular parties and this ultimate celebration of the Mass the same importance?
In today’s gospel we read how God has prepared this big feast for us, but like some of the people in the gospel, we sometimes reject or ignore this invitation.  Or if we do show up for the feast, we aren’t adequately dressed or prepared.  Think about it.  There is no wedding, party, holiday event that you’ve been to that is bigger than what we are doing right now in the Mass.  Yesterday, a deacon came to give our men a morning of reflection here at the parish and he put forth this example:  if we knew that Jesus was going to present in the Mass (which he is but we’ll get back to that in a second), but if we knew that Jesus and not the priest was going to be the main celebrant at the Mass, wouldn’t we go out of our way to be here and to be properly prepared?  I mentioned to my friend last night that I was going lead off my homily with the analogy on her parties, and she immediately picked up on where I was going with it.  She texted me this reply:  “ONLY THE BEST!!!!  If you knew Jesus was coming to your party…NO DETAIL WOULD BE SPARED!!!!!  N in my case He’s always first on the list!!!!!” 
But the thing is, and I told you that I would return to this, is that Jesus IS really here, and this challenges our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  Because if we believe that Christ is really and truly here in body, soul, and divinity, then we would prepare for this celebration like we would for one of our weddings or parties.  We go out of our way to plan everything for our parties, and we dress to the nines and build up so much excitement so that we can have an unforgettable time.  So much work goes into these great events.  Why can't we put that much effort and excitement into the wedding feast of the Lamb?