Look To The End
Thursday: Twentieth Week of the Year: August 18, 2016
Year II: Ezekiel 36:23-28; Psalm 51:12-19; Matthew 22:1-14
The Responsorial promises: “I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.”
Ezekiel 36:23-28 is a reading that transfigures all the threats and warnings of previous days. Like the Resurrection after Christ’s passion and death, it reveals the end, the outcome and glory of all that God has caused or allowed to happen on earth.
This outcome is what Jesus taught us to pray for in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Its petitions reveal the goals and priorities of his own heart. And all its petitions are promises. To pray well is to conform our desires to his. This is also the key to ministry. This is what we work to bring about.1
“I will sanctify, display the holiness of, my great name” — Hallowed be thy Name!
“The nations will learn that I am the Lord… I am going to gather you together…” — Thy Kingdom come
“I shall pour clean water upon you, and you shall be cleansed of all your defilement” — Forgive us… as we forgive.
“I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you… and make you follow my laws…” — Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“You shall be my people and I will be your God” — Our Father!
Matthew 22:1-14 focuses on a petition of the Our Father not included above (but see Ezekiel 36:29): “Give us this day our daily bread.” Scripture scholars dispute the meaning of the Greek word translated as “daily.” It appears nowhere else in the Bible. What they agree on is that it does not mean “daily.” Fr. Ray Brown argues for “future,” the “bread of tomorrow.” The “bread” we ask for is the bread, the joy, of heaven, Jesus himself, the Bread of Life.2
In the Gospels, Jesus describes heaven as a banquet, especially as a marriage feast. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (no.81) says that “in the Lord’s Prayer, daily food is prayed for, which for Christians means preeminently the Eucharistic bread.” Communion at Mass is a preview and pledge of participation in the eschatological “wedding banquet of the Lamb.”3
What Jesus teaches us in this petition is that the one thing we should desire above all and ask God for repeatedly, every day, is union with, the enjoyment of, Jesus himself. We should ask for the experience of God. Now. “This day.”
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you…. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Today’s Gospel tells us that to spurn the banquet is to spurn God himself (see John 8:42). And to come to the banquet, but without showing appreciation for what it is all about (“without a wedding garment”) is to deserve expulsion. We might apply this to the way we participate in the liturgy at Mass! If we don’t minister to others through “full, active, conscious participation” we are “party poopers.” When the party is God’s party, that is something to take seriously!
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Live to give the “food that endures.”
1New Testament Essays, Bruce, 1965.
2Matthew 25:10; Mark 2:19; Luke 12:36, 14:8; John 2:1-11; Revelation 19:9.
3John 6:27, 33.