Sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost – June 26, 2011 by Fr. Stephen

 In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Our Lord seemed to have a favorite theme among his parables about banquets. These parables are addressed also, not to be excluded from His teachings, He addresses His parables to the Pharisees. Now, you know, the Pharisees held the key of power, really a key of power to heaven because they were the guardians of the faith, knowing the law, interpreting it to its’ greatest detail. They had authority, power. And, dear friends, authority and power are very, very dangerous if they are misused, extremely dangerous, because millions may be led in the wrong path. So Jesus makes sure that the Pharisees hear Him and He addresses them. He didn’t do anything by accident. He knew everything ahead of time. He chose this parable.

Now, in the parable that he describes here, the protagonist is not a king. Often, because He is God, either the Father or Himself, He is represented by the king. Here he says, a man, a certain man, had given a great supper. Now, when you hear the word great, you know it is fashionable. A very simple word, great means great. It isn’t the word banquet, but it is probably in that category, a great supper. Now notice that those who were invited, they are not in any need. That is apparent. And notice also the Lord is using the same words He uses in the Eucharist when we have in the Consecration, He shed His blood for many, for many. Not all. Not everyone. For many. And here, the supper is expected of many to attend, and that is what the gospel says. He invited many.

And, yet, those that were invited, look at what happened. They all excused themselves, at least all those three that are recounted. Notice, also, that the excuses are very natural. And, if you think of it in human terms now on this plane, on this planet, not implying heaven, just the human condition, the field, the ground, the plot where green is to be nurtured and raised for food, so people can survive because they eat food. That’s a very natural reason to be excused. The second, also, oxen necessary for plowing the field, are necessary, useful and natural. And that was a reasonable excuse, at least in the mind of the one who made it. The third one, even more so, because at the end he doesn’t say, I plead, excuse me. He doesn’t say that. He just says, I got a wife. He doesn’t explain anything after that. I’m not coming, Count me out almost implying. Almost impetuous, like, I got a right to it. And, you know what? Church knows that marriage is a right. That’s why priests have to be very careful in advising when and when not to get married for the youth that often is foolish and doesn’t see further beyond a few yards ahead. Marriage is a right.

But this is the point that the Lord Jesus talks about a natural man to leaders of the people inviting to a great supper. Yet, there is hidden in it the supernatural because it’s not necessary. Going to heaven is not necessary for the planet’s orientation in it’s way of thinking. It’s superior. And that fact that the Lord is implying the supernatural is expressed by the fact that out of his generosity this man gives a great supper. Now you very well know that fixing a dinner or giving a banquet is no small thing. It is a social event. Many will be touched by it. Because banquets and great suppers are to be attended, as it says, by many. Now the Jews, and for Jesus it is expected because He was a Jew, to understand that for the Jew that suffered through the many centuries, God shaped them into a people. And they became very much aware of their social nature. I have not met any other people on the planet that is so aware of his own people. Americans are not like that. We are an individualistic society, I got my human rights and don’t tread on my plot. It’s mine. Me, number one. That’s the American way. I’m not criticizing it. I’m just putting it out. The Jews, as a group of people, were not like that. They might be greedy and so forth, after themselves like everybody else, but for them there was a dimension of the social aspect. And Jesus is using that, and God intentionally had that in them grow and develop. They are very much aware of social needs, things of others, my brother, my people. And Jesus is here also to save not one nation or one group or one person, but the entire world, because as St. Paul is telling us in his letters, God desires the salvation of every one without exception.

So the invitation is out to many. Banquets, Jesus’ favorite theme. The banquet that Jesus is particularly fond of is the one that He talks about that My Father is preparing, the banquet for Me in heaven. The marriage feast of the lamb that is brought to our attention at every single Catholic Mass.

Dear friends, we must become very aware that the Eucharist is a supernatural reality not needed for the thinking man of this planet limited to this earth who is very much busy about the things of this world, how much property he has, his fame, his acceptance in society, all those other things, all that. But Jesus says, You must rise above all these things to the Kingdom that the Father is preparing and wants to give you.

The supernatural is what is under attack today, and even in our own midst. The supernatural, you and I must become very, very much aware of, because that is our destiny. St. Paul says, we are not citizens of this earth. We are citizens of the next world. Jesus said, You have been with me since the beginning, implying unity between Him and the apostles, and those who chose to come to Him by grace, by faith. Our faith, dear friends, is the only thing that connects us with the supernatural. It is not natural to die for man. It is not natural for God to become human. All of the things that our faith teaches us are trying to awaken our senses and our awareness to the supernatural, the destiny to which the human soul hungers because God planted a seed in us for His Kingdom, the supernatural world. That requires a supernatural act, because when Jesus said, If you wish to come after Me there, you must, you must, you must deny your very self. If you don’t love Me more than your wife, if you don’t love Me more than your father or your mother, if you don’t love Me more than your children, your kin, or your property or anything you have, including yourself, you are not worthy of Me.

Dear faithful, we must hear Jesus pleading for us, Pay attention. I want to give you eternal life, supernatural life without limitations, this is the state of our faith. Without this, our faith is absolutely worthless, it means absolutely nothing. That is why St. Paul says, Jesus has risen from the dead with a supernatural act of God to show that He means business, that life eternal is real, waking us all up, getting us out of our slumber. Don’t give any excuses, Father I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that. Jesus said, Try to get in the narrow path, through the narrow gait because many — and He meant many, if not all — many will try to get in the other way, the easy way, the road that is wide, comfortable, easy. Everybody seems to walk by it, they are going to miss heaven. Difficult, tortuous, heroic. After it, it acquires the narrow path. Few find it, Jesus says. Few find it. Just because we are Traditional Catholics doesn’t mean you’ve found it, because if your faith doesn’t produce deeds that prove that your faith is alive, St. James says, Unless you show me your deeds that speak of your faith, your faith is dead. How many among us have faith but have no deeds? Our deeds contradict our faith. That means our faith is dead, worth nothing, just to be thrown out. The Church is in shambles today because our Catholics ignore their faith. They don’t go on Sunday, they don’t obey the commandments, they skirt around, look for excuses, just like all those examples in the gospel, natural reasons. The demands of the body must be met. But, as St. Paul says, if you live according to the body, you shall die. You lose your eternal life.

Jesus is not wanting to give us another extension of this life. Jesus wants to give us eternal life. If you have faith that produces truth, I will raise you up on the last day. You are in. Examine your faith. Does it produce deeds? Do your deeds speak louder than words? Because that is the only language people understand around you. You can speak all day long to your children. If you do something else, they are going to laugh and do exactly what you’ve been doing. If you don’t examine your conscience daily, if you don’t follow Our Lord, they will not do it either. Exceptions are miraculous, supernatural, intervention by God. That’s why the saints tell us the conversion of a sinner is a greater miracle than God’s creation of the world.

Grace is required for conversion. Our Lady is pleading for us in Fatima to pray and make sacrifices because prayer alone without deeds, without sacrifices, is powerless toward evil. That is what Jesus said. Some evil spirits will not be driven out except by prayer and fasting, sacrifices. If we are not making sacrifices, day in and day out, daily, taking up the cross daily, that’s the message of Jesus’ cross that makes you officially invited to the Eucharist, your innocence. Because in innocence you receive Jesus. Otherwise, you offend Him and you bring damnation on your soul.

Make sure when you go to confession, you make a good solid resolution that I will not offend Him anymore, and don’t make excuses, I got a habit, or anything like that. No excuses will raise you to heaven. Miraculous, supernatural deeds that God has showered upon us in the gospels, in the Church, in the saints, in sacred scriptures, in the lives of the saints, those are the things that you should be busy about absorbing and becoming, so that you will be at home at performing supernatural deeds. Because at the end of the day when Jesus will look at you and you come empty-handed, or worse, filled with sin, no chance. Anyone who has hatred in his heart for anyone is a murderer. You’ve heard St. John. And that is why the world hates those who shun this world. And if you are a true Catholic, you probably have many who don’t like what you are doing, if you are a true Catholic.

Jesus had many enemies. In fact, it looked like He had no friends at the end. His mother and one disciple. Don’t count your success by how many people are voting for you. You may be in great danger if you are popular. Be careful, Jesus said, if the world speaks well of you. And, if the world hates us because of Jesus, count your blessings. Your crown is waiting for you and you may be among the few. That is what Jesus said. Few find it. Are you among those few? Make sure that the Eucharist that we honor today in this octave, it’s a supernatural one, that means you really believe in it, which is also a supernatural act on your part, prepared by a humble act of yours, a supernatural act when you lower yourself on your knees and you clean house, that your heart may be the dwelling place that God feels comfortable in, because He is supernatural and desires you to be His companion in a supernatural orbit. Heaven even here on earth can be had. The saints showed that to us. And if you read them daily, you’ll become one of them.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.