Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text Latin - Sunday within the Octave
Mass Text English - Sunday within the Octaveh
English Mass Text - Corpus Christi
Latin Mass Text - Corpus Christi
“None of these
that were invited shall taste of my supper.”
We tend to think of today as being
simply the second Sunday after Pentecost, but the Church traditionally refers to
it as the Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi. That may help to explain
why the Gospel is this one about invited guests excusing themselves from a very
We can ask ourselves why Catholics so often fail to make use of every
opportunity to assist at Holy Mass.
Since we are but two weeks after
Pentecost, the day on which the Church was born, we would do well to consider
the same Gospel in terms of people excusing themselves from Holy Mother Church,
founded by Jesus Christ.
We should recognize that this parable
was addressed to the Jewish people of Jesus’ time, but it is nonetheless validly
addressed to people of every time in human history, and especially to people of
our time as today the Catholic Faith is so often attacked and abandoned even by
people who call themselves Catholics.
Jesus described three major distractions
that would keep His listeners from receiving the saving graces ministered by His
Church and His Sacraments. The first man had purchased a farm and must go and
see it. He would seem to belong to the wealthier class, concerned with properly
investing his money and letting others make productive use of his investment.
Quite likely, he expects the respect of those whom he hires, as well as the
respect of his fellow investors when he has time to chat with them. He has no
time for the Church and Its Sacraments, because “time is money” and because no
one in church will single him out for the praise which he feels he richly
The second one, the man who bought the
oxen, seems to be more of a “hands on” type. He is accustomed to making his
living through the “sweat of his brow,” and has no illusions or expectations
about being singled out and praised for doing so. But his “time is still
money,” and even when he is not working, he is more prone to seeking relaxation
than to seeking grace.
The third man, the one who just married
a wife, represents those who seek the sensual pleasures of life. Not that
marriage is a bad thing, but marriage itself should be fostered by the teachings
of the Church and the graces of the Sacraments. No man should be so occupied
with his romantic interests that they become sinful, or that he has no time for
God, who should be his first love.
We must recognize, though, that none of
these three outlooks on life is altogether bad. Capital and labor are good
things, particularly if the work together so that everyone has clothing and a
roof over his head, and adequate food, necessary medicines, and so forth. Those
who are forced to endure privation of these necessities rarely develop a
spiritual outlook about it—it is hard to be spiritual when you can’t properly
feed and clothe your children. Likewise, marriage is a good thing. It has God
for its author, and is the building block of families and civil societies.
So being a good Catholic is something of
a “balancing act.” We must engage the duties we have in the world, while giving
place to the things of God. We must be on our guard against pride, avarice, and
lust, while continuing to do the things necessary to living in the world. As
they say, “we must be in the world, but not of
this world.” Figuratively, we must be like “the poor, and the feeble, and the
blind, and the lame,” rather than being like the sophisticated and successful
people of the world. Pride, avarice, and lust must be overcome with humility,
generosity, and chastity. Holy Church and Holy Mass must be as much a part of
our lives as our labors and our spouses and families.
Saint Matthew’s Gospel has a similar
passage that ends with the host of the dinner going in and finding a man not
wearing a wedding garment.
The host has the offender bound hands and feet, and cast out in the darkness
outside. This isn’t as nasty as it might seem. The man was not being punished
for being too poor to dress properly. My understanding is that the Jewish
custom was for the host to provide festive over‑garments for his guests—the
guest had merely to select on and put it on.
For our purposes, we can think of the
wedding garment as the robe of grace that was freely given to us at Baptism—that
magnificent garment which properly outfits us for all of our encounters with the
Church and the Sacraments. Over the years, most of us have sullied our
baptismal garments—but Holy Mother Church will make them clean again (at no
charge) through sacramental Confession. Our Lord recognized the difficulties of
living in this world and gave us the means to recover from
our mistakes by instituting this great Sacrament. There is never a reason to
assist at Holy Mass without the “wedding garment” that is sanctifying grace.
The message is clear. We must balance
our lives, so that we may be in the world, but not
of it. We must practice humility, generosity, and
chastity. We must preserve the garment of sanctifying grace. We must be like
“the poor, and the feeble, and the blind, and the lame,” Otherwise, we will
find ourselves “bound hands and feet, and cast out in the darkness outside.”
Otherwise, on Judgement Day we will understand our Lord to be saying of us:
“None of these that were invited shall taste of my supper.”
So remember that a little humility,
generosity, and chastity—coupled with frequent Confession—will go a long way.
Welcome to the Supper of our Lord!