Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sunday, October 15, 2023

This Sunday’s Readings

First Reading
Isaiah 25:6-10a
The Lord will provide richly for his people.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord is our shepherd.

Second Reading
Philippians 4:12-14,19-20
Paul tells the Philippians that God provides whatever he needs.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:1-14 (shorter form Matthew 22:1-10)
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Immediately after criticizing the religious leaders through the parable of the tenants in last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus proceeded to tell another parable, again directed at the religious leaders. We hear this parable in today’s Gospel.

In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus offers an image of the kingdom of heaven using the symbol of a wedding banquet. In today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah and in today’s psalm, the Lord’s goodness is evident in the symbol of a feast of good food and wine. Jesus’ listeners would have been familiar with the image of a wedding feast as a symbol for God’s salvation. They would consider themselves to be the invited guests. Keeping this in mind helps us to understand the critique Jesus makes with this parable. The context for this parable is the growing tension between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem. This has been the case for the past two Sundays and will continue to be true for the next several weeks.

The parable Jesus tells is straightforward. The king dispatches his servants to invite the guests to the wedding feast that he is planning for his son. The listeners would have been surprised to learn that the first guests refused the invitation. Who would refuse the king’s invitation? A second dispatch of servants follows. Again to the listeners’ great surprise, some guests ignore the invitation. Some of the invited guests even go so far as to mistreat and kill the servants. The king invokes his retribution against these murderers by destroying them and burning their city.

We might stop here for a moment. Why would some guests kill the servants sent to invite them to the king’s wedding feast? It might be possible that the king was a tyrant, evidenced by the destruction of the city of those who refused his invitation. But if we follow this idea, then the allegory seems to be about something other than the kingdom of heaven. It is more likely that the destruction of the city would have been a powerful image corresponding to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, which would have been an important event for Matthew’s audience.

With the invited guests now deemed unworthy to attend the king’s wedding feast, the servants are sent to invite whomever they can find. The guests arrive, but it appears that accepting the king’s invitation brings certain obligations. The guest who failed to dress in the appropriate wedding attire is cast out of the feast. We are reminded that while many are invited to the kingdom of heaven, not all are able to meet its requirements. God invites us to his feast, giving us his salvation. Yet he asks us to repent for our sins.

Jesus’ message in the parable cautions against exclusive beliefs about the kingdom of heaven. The parable also teaches about humility. Those who assume that they are the invited guests may find that they have refused the invitation, and so others are invited in their place. To accept the invitation is also to accept its obligations. God wants our full conversion in complete acceptance of his mercy.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:1-14 (shorter form Matthew 22:1-10)
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast.

Making the Connection (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

Being invited to birthday parties is fun for many younger children. Being invited helps them feel a sense of love and belonging. Teach children that Jesus invites all of us to be his disciples.

Materials Needed

  • party hats, blank invitations (printed from an online template) that say “To: [blank], You are my disciple! From: Jesus,” crayons or markers, treats

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Give children a party hat. Say: Today I’m inviting all of you to my party! We are celebrating that we are all disciples of Jesus!
  2. Invite children to get a treat and talk about what it’s like to get invitations to parties (being sensitive to any child who may not have been invited to a party). Say: It is fun to go to a party. Getting invitations lets us know that we are liked and cared about. That’s why I invited all of you to this party. Jesus cares about you, and I do too!
  3. Say: In this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable, or story, about a wedding. Some people accept the invitation, and some people refuse it. Jesus tells the parable to teach us about being invited to be his disciple. Jesus invites everyone to be his disciple. Some people accept his invitation, and some people refuse it.
  4. Read the short form of today’s Gospel, Matthew 22:1–10.
  5. Say: The king sent out three invitations to the wedding feast. Ask: Which group of people accepted the invitation—the first, second, or third group? (the third group)
  6. Say: Jesus invites us to be his disciple. When we say yes to his invitation, he offers us life with God forever.
  7. Say: Let’s show Jesus that we are his disciples. Give children the invitations and the crayons or markers. Have children write their name and decorate the invitation.
  8. Pray: Jesus, we have accepted your invitation to be your disciple. Help us follow you to God the Father. Pray together the Glory Be to the Father.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:1-14 (shorter form Matthew 22:1-10)
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast.

Making the Connection (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

Older children may already have internalized a particular expectation of heaven and may judge others accordingly. Today’s Gospel presents an opportunity to reconsider these assumptions and judgments and to consider the virtue of humility.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group: Whom do you expect to see in heaven? Allow the group time to consider this question and to discuss their responses. Make a list of their answers.

  2. Ask the group: Do you think you will be in heaven? Allow time for the group to consider this question, but do not discuss their answers.

  3. Say: In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable about the kingdom of heaven. He addresses the parable to the religious leaders, people who were fairly confident that they were chosen by God for salvation. Let’s listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite a volunteer to read Matthew 22:1-10.

  5. Ask questions such as these: In the parable, who finally got to enjoy the wedding feast? Were you surprised by this? Do you think those who heard the parable as Jesus told it were surprised? (Accept all reasonable responses.) Allow time for students to add to the list that you began earlier.

  6. Say: But wait, there’s more to this Gospel. Invite another volunteer to read Matthew 22:11-14.

  7. Ask: Why was the guest sent away from the feast? (The guest wasn’t dressed appropriately.) Was this fair? (Accept all reasonable responses.) What does this tell us about accepting God’s invitation of salvation? (We must show our acceptance by changing our lives to conform to God’s kingdom.) Say: Jesus teaches us in this Gospel the importance of humility as we hope for God’s kingdom and salvation.

  8. Pray together for the strength to approach God’s promise of salvation with humility and repentance. Pray the Lord’s Prayer.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:1-14 (shorter form Matthew 22:1-10)
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast.

Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Being accepted as part of the in-group is very important to young people at this age. To receive an invitation to a party is a sign of acceptance. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that we should not take for granted God’s invitation to the heavenly banquet.

Materials Needed

  • A pack of party invitations
  • Index cards
  • Pens
  • Paper
  • Markers

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Show a pack of party invitations to the young people. Say: Imagine that you were going to throw a party and had to draw up an invitation list. Think about who you would want to invite to your party. On this index card, write the initials of those you would want to invite.

  2. Distribute index cards and pens and allow sufficient time for the young people to complete their lists. Assure the young people that their lists will remain confidential. Collect them.

  3. Say: It’s nice to know that someone thinks enough of you to invite you to celebrate with him or her. Therefore, receiving an invitation to a party is meaningful. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells a story about people who received an invitation but strangely ignored it.
  4. Invite volunteers to read aloud this Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14.

  5. Explain that Jesus was telling his audience about God’s invitation to them. Say: God is generous and loves us so much that he invites everyone to come to his table and share in his gifts.

  6. Hand out the paper and markers. Tell the young people to design an invitation from God, detailing all the gifts that God offers us.

  7. Collect the invitations and distribute them randomly (but making sure that no one has his or her own invitation). Tell the young people to keep them as reminders of God’s invitation to share in his divine life.

  8. End by praying the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 23.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 22:1-14 (shorter form Matthew 22:1-10)
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast.

Family Connection

Today’s Gospel reminds us that God invites all of us to his kingdom. How do we respond to this invitation? In theological terms, God has granted us free will to accept or reject salvation. The parable of the wedding feast reminds us that God desires our wholehearted acceptance of his invitation to salvation.

As you gather as a family, discuss what you consider appropriate attire for various occasions. For example, if your family were invited to a neighbor’s barbecue, what would you wear? If you were planning to attend the symphony, what might you wear? If invited to an evening wedding, what might you wear? Discuss how our preparations for an event and our choice of attire indicates the importance and value we place on the occasion. In today’s Gospel Jesus uses this metaphor to talk about the kingdom of heaven. Read Matthew 22:1-14. Discuss why the guest was thrown out of the wedding feast. What does Jesus expect of those who accept his invitation of salvation? What would be the evidence of our conversion to God’s salvation? Pray together as a family that you will respond wholeheartedly to God’s invitation to salvation. Pray together today’s psalm, Psalm 23.