First reading: Isaiah 25:6-10.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 22(23).
Second reading: Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20.
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14.
Link to readings.
This week's readings remind us that God desires to be generous to us. He not only invites all to share in his great feast of life, but also fills us with his strength - the power of Christ at work within each one of us.
Isaiah (first reading) describes the banquet the Lord has prepared for all people on his holy mountain - a place where death is destroyed, and all can rejoice in God's saving power.
The psalm also reassures us of the great feast spread for us by the Lord, our Shepherd, the one we can trust to guide and comfort us.
St Paul, writing from prison (second reading), similarly tells how lavishly God meets our needs, in the way that only God can. Though Paul has experienced all sorts of hardships, he knows God has equipped him to deal with absolutely anything, both good and bad. This amazing strength comes from Christ, whose empowering grace is greater than anything we can desire or imagine.
In Jesus's parable of the wedding banquet (Gospel), many of the invited guests refuse to come: some just continue with their business; others kill the messengers. But the king then commands that all are invited - good and bad - to fill the empty places. In the same way, God invites us all to share in his kingdom - can we respond positively?
This week, I might ask God to help me say a confident 'Yes!' to that invitation, and to pray for even greater dependence on his power working within and around me.
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
As I place myself consciously in the Lord's presence,
I take time to come to stillness in the way that suits me best.
'Lord, what do you want to show me today?'
I read St Paul's words slowly, reverently.
I perhaps picture him in his prison cell, as he reflects on the ups and downs of following Christ.
I notice what his words stir in me.
Perhaps I reflect on my own journey, or on some of the difficulties I see in the world around me.
Do I share Paul's confidence in being 'ready for anything, anywhere'?
Or do I feel differently?
Whatever my response, I entrust my feelings and thoughts openly to the Lord, as to a dear friend. I ask him for any grace I need.
Paul reassures the Philippians that God will meet each one of their needs with unparalleled generosity.
On what or on whom would I like God's generous blessings to fall today?
I bring my desires to the Lord.
When I am ready, I gently bring my prayer to an end, giving thanks.
I may like to carry Paul's words with me this week, trusting that God's grace is always at work within me, whatever each day brings:
'There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength.'
I ask to be aware of the Lord's welcoming presence as I still myself for prayer. I rest here for a while, before turning reverently to the Gospel.
Perhaps I watch Jesus from among the audience, noticing how he tells this parable.
What strikes me about the king... the servants... the guests? I notice how I feel.
God is inviting me to share in his feast, too.
Everything is ready... yet do I sometimes find reasons for turning him down?
I speak to the Lord of this, trusting in his love and compassion for me.
At the end of the parable, the king asks everyone to his feast, regardless of who they are, or how they behave.
How might I help bring those around me to share in God's invitation? I speak to the Lord as a trusted friend, asking for whatever I need.
In time I end my prayer, perhaps with a slow sign of the cross.
Glory be to the Father...
Prepared by St Beuno's Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham