In the Gospel today, once again we hear, by way of a parable, about a father and son, but this time it involves a king who invites guests to his son’s wedding feast. This gospel passage presents a wonderful opportunity to understand the ambiance of the Eucharist—the Mass-we are about to celebrate.
The wedding of the father’s son in the parable is to be understood by Christians as the wedding that takes place between Christ and his bride, the Church—All the Baptized. Every Mass we celebrate together is a recollection of the Last Supper, the first Eucharist, at the same time it is also a reminder of “The Wedding Feast of the Lamb of God to his bride, the Church.” The Entrance Song and Procession may be likened to the beginning of that wedding feast. And when, at the beginning of our celebration, we greet each other, “The Lord be with you. And with your spirit,” we regard each in our whole personhood—body and soul. The Lord too is regarded, but in his body, soul, and divinity. We recognize our real presence to one another, but, more importantly, Jesus’ real presence in our gathering.
Isaiah in the first reading looks forward to “This the Lord for whom we looked”—the Lord who saves and redeems our whole person, on whose mountain all are provided a rich feast—the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist. In our celebrating and remembering together, we are called to recognize in each other “The Lord for whom we looked.”
In persona Christi is a beloved Latin phrase that literally means “in the person of Christ.” It of course refers to the call of each Christian “to be Christ for others.” We emphasize the priest at the altar celebrating the Holy Eucharist as in persona Christi, but in fact we are all in persona Christi when we surrender to the Lord, follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, and live the Good News with mercy, compassion, and love.
Returning to the image Jesus gives us of the king (God the Father) offering a wedding feast for his son (Jesus), the caution is that, by our sins, we might be counted among those who turn down the invitation to be part of the wedding; that is, the union of Jesus and his Church. The startling reality is that we can well attend Mass on a regular basis, but if we do not live our faith and put it into practice every day there is no real marriage. Just as all too often married couples might drift apart, and their marriage become an empty shell—a marriage in appearance only—so too can our spiritual lives become the salt that has lost its flavor. No doubt about it, Christianity needs to be deliberate and intentional and we should be eager to accept any advantage offered to us to restore, not only life and vibrancy to our lived Christianity, but also the joy of celebration.
I pray that our entrance, this Advent 2017, into a parish observance of 12 months of realizing the Holy Eucharist as the Center of our lives, may occasion an outpouring of grace and blessing upon us, as we pray the gift of more profound faith and of experiencing the joy of living the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. This is also how we may know what it truly means to live life for God and for each other—in persona Christi.