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October 9, 1987     The Message
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October 9, 1987 Commentary The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 r Mass Readings By FATHER DONALD DILGER I 1 Jesus used parable to justify bringing Good News to poor Gospel commentary For Sunday, Oct. 11, 1987 Matthew 22:1.14 -- The Parable of the Great Banquet This is the third and final parable of a series of three in Matthew's Gospel. As used originally by Jesus they ware in a more abbreviated form and were used to justify to his opponents the bringing of the Good News to the poor and the outcasts. Matthew, his church, and other theologians such as Luke, adapted the parables to their own times and circumstances. For Matthew the three parables have served as a denunciation of Jewish leaders, the justification of the Christian mission to the Gentiles, that is nations other than Jews, and, in this last parable, a connection of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. with the persecution and martyrdom of Christian missionaries sent to the Jews. Let's compare Matthew's version of this parable with the shorter and simpler version of Luke. Luke's parable seems to be closer to the original in both style and purpose. The man who gave a great banquet in Luke becomes in Matt. a king who gives a mmTiage feast for his son. Mat- thew, whose thought is so strongly influenced by the prophet Isaiah, may have in mind the mes- sianic banquet of Isaiah 25, the first reading of to- day's Mass. The bridegroom and the wedding feast are both much-used symbols in early Christian literature. In Revelation 19 the final victory is celebrated by a marriage feast at which the Lamb of God is the bridegroom. It should be noted that later in Matthew's parable an army will be sent out thus requiring a ruler to have and send an army. The one servant in Luke becomes "servants" in Matthew. Matthew is fond of using multiples where his sources use singles. In Luke the servant goes out once to those originally invited. In Mat- thew a first group of servants is sent out but without success. For Matthew these servants are the prophets of the Old Testament. In their own time most of them met rejection and persecution. In Luke there is no second mission to the orginally invited. Now Matt. adds a second group of ser- vants who are treated shamefully and killed. Here Matthew has in mind the Apostles and early Chris- tian missionaries. But did the Jewish leaders persecute and kill Apostles and Christian mis- sionaries? The author of Acts writes of widespread persecution of both Apostles and other Christian missionaries in which Jewish leaders were in- volved. There is the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7, the killing of James the brother of John by Herod who thus pleased the Jews (Acts 12:2-3). Peter, John, and Paul all did time in prison, at least in part at the instigation of Jewish leaders. Note that there is no reference here to the killing of the son and heir as had been the case in the previous parable -- The Tenants of the Vineyard. Next Matthew adds the peculiar note that the king sent an army to destroy those murdering in- vitees and burn their city. This has to be a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Matthew is writing some 10 to 20 years later. He sees the destruction as a result of the Christian mission to the Jews. On a lighter note -- it seems odd to us that a king would prepare a marriage feast for his son, send out two invitations, send an army to destroy the refuseniks, and finally invite others to sit down and eat the food which had been prepared so long ago -- and all this before the age of refrigeration. But, as said in an earlier article, details of a parable must not be pressed too closely. Such is not Matthew's concern. Now new guests are invited in both Luke and Matthew. These are the Gentiles or non-Jewish na- tions. Only Matthew notes that both "bad and good" accepted the invitation. For him this is the Church which contains both sinners and saints. The weeds are to be left to grow with the wheat until judgment time a in Matthew 13:29. Then Matthew adds a second parable which is found in no other gospel. The king comes in to check out the guests and finds one without a wedding gar- ment. The poor wretch is bound hand and foot and thrown out into the darkness. (This may give us some concern about how to dress for the next wed- ding we attend.) What does Matthew teach us by this strange little addition? Those in the Church who presume that membership is all that is needed may indeed eat at the banquet. But, when the king comes in, that is the Last Judgment, he will expect more than mere membership. The one invited must also produce good fruit. Matthew adds the ominous note that many are called but few are chosen. This sentence has caus- ed great problems in the history of Christianity -- the matter of predestination. Here it should be in- terpreted as meaning that not all who accept the invitation persevere in it. There must have been those in Matthew's church who said "I've been saved" and went about business as usual. Therein lies the lesson of the parable for us. An acceptance of the parable implies true repentance and conver- sion. Nor is this a one-time act for most people. It is an ongoing, lifetime process in which we strug- gle from temptation to temptation, from fall to repentance, until we have reached the stage where the wedding garment of baptism has become the final garment of salvation. We are not alone in achieving this. St. Paul wrote in today's lesson: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me." It is Jesus, the Son, who will clothe us in the unfading wedding gar- ment: "He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, he has wrapped me in a cloak of righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing his wreath, like a bride adorned in her jewels." (Isaiah 61:10). Other Readings for Sunday, Oct. 11, 1987: Isaih 25:6-10; Phil]ipians 4:12-14, 19-20 Laity synod focuses on role of women By AGOSTINO BONa NO News Service VATICAN CITY (NC) -- The role of women in the church emerged as one of the main topics in the opening days of the world Synod of Bishops on the laity. The discussion focused on issues of equality and mission, but did not include ordination. Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, proposed a greater role for women in diocesan administra- tion. Other topics coming out of the early sessions of the Oct. 1-30 meeting included: -- Clarification of lay JASPER SER VICE AND SHOPPINGG UIDE Buehlers I.G.A. 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In a waiver of synod rules, lay people also addressed plenary sessions. Normally, only voting delegates are allowed to ad- dress the assemblies. Synod rules limit voting to bishops and a few priests who are heads of religious orders or who are specifically appointed by the reigning pope. Among the lay Speakers were Vicente Espeche, Argentine ambassador to Algeria, and Jean-Loup Dherse, a French citizen and one of the organizers of the Chunnel pro- ject, which is designed to unite France and England by a tunnel under the English Channel. The day before the synod opened, Sept. 30, the synod's permanent general secretary, Archbishop Jan Schotte, said Catholics worldwide are accep- ting the Vatican's frequently repeated distinction between clerical and lay roles. "Little by little one has seen that they have discovered that the mis- sion and the vocation of the lai- ty is in the world," he said. ON OCT. 1, Pope John Paul II opened the synod with a Mass in which he praised the "im- portant contribution" of lay people to preparations for the synod. He said lay observers at the synod would help the voting delegates in the "challenging task" of examin- ing the laity's role. On Oct. 2, Cardinal Hyacin- the Thiandoum of Dakar, Senegal, synod recording secretary, in a summary of the synod working document and the delegates' reactions to it emphasized examination of church ministries as they relate to baptism, confirmation and ordination. This would help clarify the distinctions between ministries open to the laity and those reserved for the priesthood, he said. The cardinal listed as main synod themes: the laity's primary responsibility for Christianizing the world; the relationship of lay groups with the bishops; lay ministries in the church, and the vocation and mission of lay women. He called for developing the idea that women have "tasks of equal dignity but sometimes different." "Equality does not prevent a recognition of the differences that exist between people," he said. Judging by pre-synod reports, See ,HTYpage 13