Bottom line: as Bishop Barron says, "secularism destroys the soul". What ultimately matters is how we respond to Jesus' invitation: "Everything is ready. Come to the feast."
In our Old Testament reading, Isaiah prophesies a heavenly wedding feast with "juicy, rich food and pure, choice wine." To understand this vision we have to remember that they did not have supermarkets with a variety of fresh meat. No, for a special occasion, they would slaughter a lamb or fatted calf. As for wine, except for drunkards, they would consume it in limited quantities - and usually poor quality and diluted with water.
So, to be invited to a wedding feast meant a break from drudgery and daily duties. And the wedding of king's son would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, several days of delicious food, abundant wine and general merrymaking. The prized invitation would come in two stages: first, a general announcement. Then, when everything is ready, they would tell people to drop everything, put on their best clothes and come.
Shockingly, some of the invited guests turn down the summons. Why? Well, Jesus says they go "one to his farm and another to his business".
This rejection sums up the secular mentality. A farm and a business are good things, but these people had made them their ultimate concern. What matters to them are the things of this world. That's what secularism means. It comes from the Latin word "secula", meaning "world". A secularist sees nothing beyond this material world.
The secular perspective was summed up a few years ago by a Seattle businessman and philanthropist. A reporter asked him what he thought about attending religious services. He responded, "I can think of more productive ways of spending a Sunday morning." A secularist values productivity - really above everything else. So if a person loses their productively, they lose their value.*
Bishop Robert Barron says, "secularism destroys the soul". We have seen that in our society. As we have become more secularized, we have fallen into more depression and addictions. I see it especially among our young people. The Center for Disease Control reported that, according to their study, in the month of June 25% of young people, age 18-24, considered suicide. The study considered that the Covid-19 lockdown brought increased the isolation, stress and substance abuse. The Bible says that man is not meant to live alone. We need each other and we need God.
To find God, like the people in today's Gospel, we have to accept his invitation. This is not easy. In his letter for the Year of the Eucharist, Archbishop Etienne recognizes this. He says, "It has never been easy to live a Eucharistic life." He notes that when Jesus first proclaimed the mystery of the Eucharist, "many disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him" (John 6:66) We have special challenges today. Once again to quote Archbishop Etienne, " We live in a culture that has largely forgotten God. Faith is presented as a dusty relic of bygone days, and the Church as just one more flawed institution."
I recognize that the Church is composed of sinful human beings, beginning with the one speaking to you. St. Paul speaks describes us as clay jars that contain an incalculable treasure. The treasure we hold is nothing more and nothing less than Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a taste here on earth of the wedding banquet Jesus describes in the Gospel.
Don't turn down the invitation. As we hear in today's Gospel, Jesus invites the "bad and good alike". I don't know about you, but I am glad about that, in fact, relieved. I know that farms and businesses are important. Our parish even has elements of a business. It's always a challenge to see beyond this material world. But as Bishop Barron says, "secularism destroys the soul". What ultimately matters is how we respond to Jesus' invitation: "Everything is ready. Come to the feast."
*That's why secularists typically support euthanasia and aborting unborn babies with Down syndrome. A baby with Downs or a dying old person are considered to have small productivity. As Catholics we do not see suffering as something without value.
From Archives (Twenty-Eighth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru