The Twenty-Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time – 11 October 2020
Lectionary Readings: Is 25:6-10A; Ps23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6; Phil 4:12-14, 19-20; Mt 22:1-14
Theme: Surfacing before us the most vulnerable
This is another parable where people fall into an immediate association that the king is G-d. We should not be too quick to identify the characters in a parable as G-d. As Amy-Jill Levine, a Jewish professor, asserts we must avoid immediate association of characters with G-d, because, sometimes “the king is just a king and the prodigal son just a wasteful, ungrateful child.”  In this parable, it seems that the king was unable to accept the rejection and thus he responded disproportionately to those invited first – destroyed the murderers and burned the city. Later, it turned out that one of the guests was not wearing the proper attire for the occasion. The king’s response was again disproportionate. It seems that the parable is problematic when compared to the kingdom of heaven and more so, when we associate the king with G-d. Why would the kingdom of heaven be ruled by a king that seems to act excessively in response to rejection? The king has issues of rejection, don’t you think? Another question is, why would these people not bother to attend the feast when it was the king who invited them? Are they not honored to be part of the royal banquet? What moved them to reject the invitation? Was it because they knew of the king’s cruelty when his standards were ignored? Did they refuse to accept the invitation because of the son? Is this really what the kingdom is like: when you are off-tangent or different, not “dressing-up” according to the standards expected, you will be thrown out and be tortured? Furthermore, Jesus’ words “many are invited, but few are chosen,” are more perplexing. Indeed, the king invited many people but rejected them all. Who are the chosen few, when the ‘hall was filled with guests?’ Using a Deaf lens and those considered different, atypical, and deviant in society because of their physical, sensory, cognitive make-up, and the disabled, this parable reflects their daily struggles in society. They are often dejected because they are different, they are not ‘normal,’ they do not fit the standard of ‘normal’ in society. Just like the man at the end of the parable, they too are often cast-out of society, and this becomes more obvious during this pandemic. The point of the matter is this, the pandemic somehow showed who are the most vulnerable in society. I hope that we have grown more sensitive to and perceptive of their existence and our co-existence with them – most vulnerable. We should not cast-out those who seem different among us. Are we like the king?
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Have you been like the king, whose fundamental option is choosing only those within his standards, be they socio-economic, race, class, color, or ability? 2. Are you like the king who hurt, disgraced, and humiliated those who did not fit his standards? 3. In what way can I make heaven a reality for those forgotten by society, especially in this time of the health crisis?
 Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Department of Religious Studies and Graduate Department of Religion. Amy-Jill Levine, Same Stories, Different Understanding: Jews and Catholic Conversation (QC: CBAP, 2004), 42-43.
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Kristine C. Meneses, PhD, Philippines, Bat Kol Alumna: 2016