The Summit of the Christian Life

Classic Sunday Sermon: The Summit of the Christian Life
Posted on 10/15/2023
Bishop Barron

Friends, the mountain is a great image throughout the Bible. It is the place where we go up and where God comes down to meet us. Today’s first reading from Isaiah orients us to three holy mountains of the Lord: first, the historical Mount Zion; second, its fulfillment in the heavenly Mount Zion; and third, a sort of “middle mountain” of the Mass, where we raise our minds and hearts to God, who comes to gather us, to speak his word, and to feed us.

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Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

MATTHEW 22:1–14

Friends, today’s Gospel likens the kingdom of God to a king who gives a wedding feast for his son. The biblical authors couldn’t find a more apt metaphor for the coming together of divinity and humanity than a wedding banquet. God and humanity are married, and they are surrounded by joy, peace, celebration, and good food.

What was Jesus’ strategy? Open table-fellowship; outreach to all, to the righteous and the unrighteous, to the healthy and the sick, to the mainstream and the marginalized. Here comes everybody. You don’t have to be good to receive God’s grace; that’s why they call it “grace.” 

But then something puzzling emerges. When the king comes to welcome his guests, he finds someone not properly dressed: “The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’” It was customary at the time (as it still is) for people to come to a wedding dressed up. 

The play here is between grace and works. We can refuse the invitation altogether, or we can refuse the transformation that should follow from grace. We have to cooperate with grace, donning the wedding garment of love, forgiveness, peace, and nonviolence.