SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
By Fr. Raphael Frassinetti, 1900
Gospel. Luke xiv. 16-24. At that time: Jesus spoke to the Pharisees this parable: A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. And he sent his servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited, that they should come, for now all things are ready. And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him: I have bought a farm, and I must needs go out and see it: I pray thee, hold me excused. And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them; I pray thee, hold me excused. And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. And the servant returning told these things to his lord. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city: and bring in hither the poor and the feeble, and the blind and the lame. And the servant said: Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges; and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. But I say unto you that none of those men that were invited, shall taste of my supper.
THE GREAT FEAST TO WHICH ALL ARE INVITED.
We are within the octave of the most beautiful feast of the Church, the feast of Corpus Christi; and the Church wisely chooses the parable of the great feast to which all are invited as the subject of our meditation to-day. This great feast represents the most august, the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, and with what great solemnity it is celebrated! The altars are magnificently decorated, innumerable lights are lighted, incense ascends in clouds, processions are formed, benediction is given so as to make us understand that the good Jesus is with us, and that hence we should love Him and adore Him. In order that you may be moved to this love, think of the great love, even the excess of love, by which the Lord invites us to so rich, so magnificent a banquet–in which He offers His sacred flesh as our food, and His precious blood as our drink.
“A certain rich man made a great feast.” Enter the hall of the Last Supper at Jerusalem, where the divine Redeemer sat among His Apostles. Jesus, His face aglow with divine love, turns at the end of the meal to His disciples and tells them that the hour has come when He must return to the Father; but He bids them be not afraid nor dejected, for He will remain with them till the end of time. Then He took bread into His hands, those hands which made heaven and earth, and blessed it and said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this for a commemoration of Me. In like manner the chalice also after He had supped, saying, This is the chalice of the New Testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you.”
To understand the great love with which the amiable Saviour did this, consider when this was done. Not in those days when Our Saviour was going about in His glory, working miracles before the admiring crowd that followed Him. He did not even institute this holy Sacrament when, after having preached and moved the people, a woman cried out, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck.” Not in the days of His triumph, when He had fed five thousand people, and had led them spellbound for days through the country, and they came to take Him by force and make Him king. He did not institute it on that glorious feast, Palm Sunday, when He made His entry into Jerusalem, the houses, the streets, and the gates of the city adorned for His reception, and the people crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
But He instituted this holy Sacrament on that sorrowful night when He was to be apprehended through the treachery of Judas, His apostle, when the soldiers were about to lay violent hands on Him and drag Him most contumeliously to the house of Caiphas. The night on which He was betrayed was the night on which Our Lord instituted the Blessed Sacrament. You will appreciate still more the love of Our Lord in instituting this holy Sacrament by remembering that He foresaw all that was about to happen to Him: the insults, scourging, crowning; the carelessness, coldness, and infidelity of humanity was all before His mind; He saw the want of faith, the want of gratitude among the Christians themselves. He foresaw that the Sacrament would be sacrilegiously used and abused. That many Christians would eat and drink judgment unto their souls for not discerning the body of Christ.
Every day Our Lord goes into hearts that are good, and into hearts that are the abominable residence of the devil. But the love of Jesus overcame all difficulties, and in the excess of His love He cried out, “My delight is to be with the children of men.” He did not wish to remain with us only for a time, but forever, unto the end of the world. It would have been a great favor had He left His body in only one place on this earth, so that it would have been necessary to travel many miles to reach His tabernacle. But, no; He preferred to remain within our cities, near our houses, in our villages, out in the lonesome country, in every church where the Holy Eucharist is kept, and there He remains day and night. What a great favor it would have been had He promised us that once in a lifetime we might receive Him. But He desires that we go frequently to Him, and He even binds us by a command that we must receive His body, and drink His blood if we wish to have life in us. “Amen, amen, I say to you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.”
Continually does the good Lord coax us to come to Him, and in familiar intercourse to lay our troubles before Him, that He may carry them for us. “Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” How sweet and encouraging must not these words sound to the poor sinner. These words, “Come all,” ought to make us run with unbounded confidence, as the invitation implies. But how do the generality of Christians answer this invitation of Our Lord? Do they often go to the Lord’s Supper and eat the Sacred Bread? Many after this kind invitation will stay away, refusing to yield to the loving importunities of Our Lord. They say we cannot come, we love the world more than Thee, we would rather feast on the pleasure of this world than feed on that spiritual food which Thou dost offer us; we are too busy with our worldly affairs, and we cannot come. Will they not deserve the sentence which the master of the feast gave out, “But I say unto you, that none of these men that were invited shall taste of my supper.” If they do not come to this feast they shall not enter heaven. Is there a beggar faint with hunger who, if he was kindly invited by the king to come into a great banquet hall, there to satisfy himself with delicious food, that would not willingly listen to the invitation, and be glad he had an opportunity of eating at the king’s table? He would be a fool if he said, “I cannot come.” The sick man near his death would not refuse a new lease of life and freedom from sickness. Those who remain afar from Jesus are poor, famished beggars, miserable invalids, because they are in want of the food of the soul which Our Lord offers. You see then the blindness and folly of people who refuse to go to Jesus.
What a consolation it is to all good Christians to love God’s altar and to go frequently to holy communion. You are therefore the guard of honor of the Blessed Sacrament; defend it now, and show your real faith in it. Keep yourselves steadfast in this holy devotion, this holy adoration. The time will perhaps come when you will no longer have your child-like faith and fervor at the altar. What has become of it? Ah! it is the old story; you fell away and cared no more for this heavenly food.
Let us love this sacred table of Our Lord. Let us ever hunger for the spiritual food, the body of Christ; do not love the banquets of the world, for they will make you forget this heavenly feast. Let it not be said there was a time when you were good; but having begun well, being nourished by the body and blood of Christ, grow in virtue, become good Christian men and women, and faithful to the teaching of your youth; often receive the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. The danger is, that in the course of time you may become careless. Knowing this forgetfulness, join a society which will keep you from bad surroundings and encourage you in the practice of your duty. (2)