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Reflection on the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on October 15, 2023, by Johanna Brian SL

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus tells another parable addressed to the Jewish leaders. He is just weeks away from trial and execution and his contentious relationship with them is getting worse. The details of the story up the ante of the conflict. This time, it is the King who is inviting guests to the wedding feast of his son, and there are strong Messianic overtones which would have increased the pressure and urgency of the invitation.The parable is an allegorical depiction of the history of the past years of the miserable responses made by the Jewish leaders to God’s invitation to a covenant relationship beginning with Moses and continuing through and beyond the prophets. Violent actions are often followed by violent responses, and the ripple effect echoes down through the corridors of time all the way to our current newscasts describing bloody conflicts between warring nations today.

All of that being said however, the parable does contain some very good news for us. Now the circle of the invited is widened to include everyone — both the good and the bad! The invitation is still current, broad, persistent, generous and radically inclusive. Social status, personal qualifications, religious observance and ethical behavior are all to be set aside. Come one and come all. The bad news is that there is a very strict dress code and the ouster of the guest who showed up in inappropriate attire was violent and shocking. Apparently, no excuses will be accepted, and no complacency will be tolerated.  

In our first reading, Isaiah lays out a smorgasbord of the physical, emotional and spiritual abundance that we will find at this banquet, and it is not on some far distant mountaintop of strenuous impossibility or only after death – the call is for here and now! The responsorial psalm describes the beauty, rest, consolation, nourishment, healing and security that we can and do experience when we live in a harmonious and respectful relationship with our natural world. In the second reading, Paul assures us that everything we need is ours for the asking.

Once again, we must pause to wonder why, if these Scripture readings mean what they say, do we continue to languish in the outer darkness where there is wailing and the grinding of teeth? Why does the plight of the human family and the peril of our earthly home seem to be getting worse instead of better? Why can we not lay hold of the allegorical truth of the parable and find that proper attire that will allow us to enter the banquet and participate in the sharing of the mutual gifts of life and love with all of our sisters and brothers? Basically, how do the many who are called become the many who are chosen. It’s really no secret, and we’ve heard about it thousands of times. Paul takes the guesswork out of what we must wear:  “… as God’s chosen (invited) people, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with one another and forgive one another, And above all these, put on love which binds all together in perfect harmony.“ (Col 3: 12-14)  

In our retreat here at the Motherhouse recently Marty and Mary Ellen gave us some thoughts and words to ponder. I would like to close with some words from Matthew Fox, which speak to the matters at hand: “The earth yearns for an era of unsurpassed religious activity that can be experienced if we dare to awaken the mystic within ourselves and our traditions.  … Mysticism brings justice, harmony and balance back to our brains. By confronting one’s own projections and by healing psychic injustice, the mystic clears the way for a more effective struggle for social justice. The mystic educates for peace instead of war. The inner battles the mystic undergoes teach a sense of personal understanding and compassion toward the ‘enemy’ that sometimes is missing when one has not confronted one’s own psychic battles. And finally, the mystic is keen on the experience of the Divine and will not settle for theory alone or knowing about the divine.”

There is a growing awareness of the urgent need for this kind of change throughout the world. An emerging movement called “Monasticism for the World” hopes that the universal practice of mysticism will lay the foundations for a global ecumenical movement that will unleash the power of wisdom from all of the world’s religious traditions as well as the ancient and earth-centered traditions of the native peoples of the earth.

 Maybe and hopefully, becoming mystics can clothe us with the proper attire so that all people of the earth can be admitted to the banquet of the wedding feast that Merton called the “cosmic dance of God’s creation.”


Johanna Brian SL

Johanna came to Loretto from Colesburg, Ky., which is just over the hill from Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky. She attended Bethlehem Academy and Loretto Academy in Kansas City, Mo. She also attended Webster University and St. Louis University. Twenty-six of her 38 years of teaching were spent in El Paso, Texas, where she taught English and religion. For the past 25 years, Johanna has been on the staff at The Healing Place in Louisville, Ky., helping women to recover from alcoholism and drug addictions. Since moving to Loretto Motherhouse a few years ago, she has been having a great time participating in all that is going on there.