Madilyn Rose Scroggins Baptism

Sermon for the twenty eighth Sunday of ordinary Time

year A 2014

Fr. Tim Kelly

Scriptural inspiration:  Isaiah 25:6-10  Psalm 22.  Matt. 22:1-14

Patristic inspiration: 

Literary inspiration: 

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

GOSPEL MT 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people

in parables, saying,

"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king

who gave a wedding feast for his son.

He dispatched his servants

to summon the invited guests to the feast,

but they refused to come.

A second time he sent other servants, saying,

"Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet,

my calves and fattened cattle are killed,

and everything is ready; come to the feast."'

Some ignored the invitation and went away,

one to his farm, another to his business.

The rest laid hold of his servants,

mistreated them, and killed them.

The king was enraged and sent his troops,

destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,

but those who were invited were not worthy to come.

Go out, therefore, into the main roads

and invite to the feast whomever you find.'

The servants went out into the streets

and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,

and the hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to meet the guests,

he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.

The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it

that you came in here without a wedding garment?'

But he was reduced to silence.

Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,

and cast him into the darkness outside,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'

Many are invited, but few are chosen."

Reminder of general theme of Matthew’s Gospel.

To begin with, I feel that I must point out, as I have before, that the Gospel of Matthew, written by a Jewish convert to Christianity, was written to fellow Jews who are members of the first generation Christian community. Matthew seeks to counter the belief of some Jewish Christians that they have a superior place on the new movement because they belong to the people of Israel.

But Matthew recalls the encounters between Jesus and the chief priests and scribes where he has admonished them not to think of themselves as above other people. Remembering how Jesus spoke, Matthew puts them into a form that will teach early Christians that Jesus did not die for Jews only, or even for Jews in some special way. Matthew recalls that Jesus taught that salvation was for all the nations. The central point is that the earth belongs to God and that we are only his tenants. Speaking to the chief priests and scribes,  in this interaction, Jesus tries to admonish them that it is a noble thing to be a tenant of the Almighty king. 

The story is told that the Water of Life, wishing to make itself known on the face of the earth, bubbled up for all to see. It was available for the animals to drink, for the people to drink and to cultivate their crops. But human beings, wanting the Water of life to be controlled, fences in the well, and made many rules as to who could drink. They charged admission and put locks on the gate. 

 The Water of Life grew angry and moved away to bubble up elsewhere. But the owners of the first well were so busy running their system that they never noticed that people were thirsty and that their well was not slaking the people’s thirst. They continued charging to get in, measuring the cups people could use to drink, checking the exact amount each person could take home, and even ensuring that only certain people could drink the Water of Life that they happily wasted their own lives and ruined the lives of others. 

The spring takes herself off from the first place, and settling there, invigorates the community at that place. Yet, as soon as the community in that place realize the value of the Spring of life among them, they also build a fence, charge an admission fee, restrict the type of people who gain entry and claim the Water of life as property.  Time after time, the water of life leaves the place where it had chosen to bring its gifts. And each time it happens, each time that the Water of life is arrested and imprisoned by humans and an ownership claim is made on her, she ups and goes away to a place where thirsty people need her more. Water is water. It tends to go where people want her. It tends to flow away from those who raise themselves up.

Matthew’s parables are frustrating. They are not sweet tales of bad guys becoming good guys, of forgiving Daddies and loving shepherds. No, in Matthew’s parables, masters of the vineyard pay bums the same money as hard-working people. A nice young man, from a decent family asks Jesus and asks him what little thing he needs to do to possess eternal life. A perfectly average question. And Jesus tells him to go off and sell his property and to give everything to the poor. Matthew does not do parables in a gentle way. 

And now today, a certain king makes unreasonable demands on people who are just coming home from work. The king sends out his servants, they stop people on the street and ask them to come to the palace for dinner. So we all do. We get in there, we sit down and the food is fantastic. 

The king welcomes everyone to his son’s wedding banquet. Everything’s going great until the king starts going around welcoming us all. 

The Lord questions each one and says, “How did you get into this banquet of mine?”  I’m listening as he asks that question, and I am saying to myself, “What do you mean, ‘how did you get into my banquet?’ Your servant invited me here. I am just walking down the street minding my own business when your big goon walks up to me and says, “Hey guy, you want a free meal?” So there I am, listening as the king makes his rounds. And as he goes around, I just cringe when I hear what he says to all those poor decent folks. 

“Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” 

The first guy replied “My parents were Catholic and they had me baptized when I was a baby. That’s the only reason I am here sitting at the table in your kingdom.”  

And he said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,

and cast him into the darkness outside,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'

Many are invited, but few are chosen."

“And you”, said the king to a man who was chatting to a pretty girl in the corner. , “how did you get into my banquet?” 

 “I’m here because I’m Irish, and, as you know, we’re all Catholics. That how come I’m sitting here waiting for the free food and the open bar. Because now, your majesty, if there’s no free bar, I have better things to be doing on a fine evening like this.”

Then he said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,

and cast him into the darkness outside,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'

Many are invited, but few are chosen."

 The king turns to the next person. She is holding her Rosary beads and is deep into her prayer.

 “Good woman”, says the king, “what brings you here? How did you deserve a place at my table?” 

“Oh”, she replies, “I pray every hour that God sends.” “What do you pray for?” asks the king. “O. I pray for my grandson that he will pass his exams. I pray for my family that they will get successful. I pray that God will give me good health.” The king said to her, “Don’t you ever take a little time to pray for me or my family?”  “I have enough grandchildren who need my prayers. You can pray for your grandchildren and I will pray for mine.”

'My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?'

Then he said to his attendants, 'Bind her hands and feet,

and cast her into the darkness outside,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'

Many are invited, but few are chosen."

Then the king sees another man. “Why are you here, friend?” 

“I was just on the street when your servant asked me to partake in your banquet. He said that you were very upset and angry that the rich and famous had insulted you. I would hate it if someone did that to my father. So I’m here to make sure that your son’s wedding day is not ruined.” 

And the king said to him 

“Good and faithful servant. Come with me to the Royal table where you can eat and drink with me and my son. For though I called many, only a few answered. And even of that few, not everyone came in here with his wedding garment on him. Truly you have dressed for the occasion. 

I see that you are a man who loves me. I see that you love me enough to honor me by coming to my son’s wedding dinner.”

There I am, sitting quietly in my chair. But I have to be different and I stand up, “Your majesty, what must a man wear to be able to sit at your table. I was walking home from work when your servant invited me in. How could I have time to get a wedding garment? What do I need? I want to do the right thing, and be able to stay.”  

The king turned to me and answered me. 

“My son, it’s not about silk or linen fabrics. It not about the Rolex watch. You do not need Gucchi shoes in here. All I am asking for is that you wear the garment of the lover. To sit at my table, you must be on fire with love for me, hot with expectation and excitement when you hear my voice. I am not asking for much really, just that you love me, your lord, with all your heart, and that you love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Apostles’ Creed 

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ,

his only Son, Our Lord who was conceived by the

Holy Spirit,  born of the Virgin Mary, suffered

under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell on the third day He arose again

from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the

Right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will

come  to judge the living and the dead.


I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the

communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection

of the body, and life everlasting.   Amen.


VBS 2014 at SMM

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