28th Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 14, 1984
Is 25: 6-10
Salesian Jr. Seminary, Goshen, N.Y.
“On this mountain, the Lord of Hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines (Is 25: 6).
What is salvation? What is dwelling in God’s presence like? Isaiah tries to describe it.
“This mountain” is Mount Zion, the place where YHWH dwells among his people: the temple mount in Jerusalem. On “that day” the last day, the day of salvation and judgment, YWHW will make his presence manifest to all the world, and all nations will share in the glory and the abundance that signify his presence.
The most apt comparison of abundance that Isaiah can think is a banquet. Jesus uses a similar comparison in today’s parable (Matt 22: 1-10). The banquet is exceedingly rich: not buffet cold cuts and salad bar but fat meats and rich wine—and salad bar, too, I suppose. And since I used to think of heaven as an eternity of baseball and ice cream, I hope that the ice cream, at least, will be there.
Food is important to our earthly sense of joy and security. But in the long run we need more. So Isaiah goes on: YWHW will destroy “the veil that is spread over all nations” (25:7), perhaps a veil of mourning—for tears also shall be wiped away from all faces (25:8)—or perhaps a veil of ignorance. So there is to be perpetual joy and, perhaps—let’s hope a so—a fuller knowledge.
More important, YWHW “will swallow up death forever” (25:8). On earth, all our celebrations—christenings, birthdays, weddings, ordinations, retirements, etc.—are tempered by awareness of our mortality. More than for food, we hunger for life! This too YWHW will bestow—eternal life.
Each earthly meal foreshadows the eternal banquet to which YWHW has invited us in Christ. That’s why we celebrate a weekly Eucharist, using bread and wine as sacramental symbols. In the Eucharist, we not only look toward eternal life, but we already begin to share in that divine life because the Eucharist is more than bread and wine; it’s the body and blood of Jesus Christ, who is our life and our salvation.
|(Place and photographer unknown)|
Each earthly meal foreshadows the eternal banquet. That’s why we fast during Lent—and even to a minimal extent before Communion. The fasting symbolizes our mortality, our sinfulness, and our hunger for eternal; life.
“We have waited for our God, that he might save us” (25:9). Mankind waited thousands of years for Christ’s coming; we still await his coming again on the final day of salvation and judgment. We look with longing for the day of our final deliverance from every anxiety, every trial and sorrow, death itself. We look with longing for the eternal day when we shall live in our Father’s presence, when we shall know and love him as he knows and loves us. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.