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Youth Ministry Resources - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matthew 22:1-14 - The parable of the marriage feast - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once again Jesus directs this parable to the chief priests and elders of the people, the same ones who would later denounce him, publicly humiliate him and call for his crucifixion. Jesus is well aware of who his audience is. The parable Jesus uses describes the tremendous shame and loss of honour of the King when his invitations are refused. Honour and shame are pivotal values of 1st Century Palestine so those listening to this parable would have been most supportive of the murderous response by the King.

The second audience for this parable is the Matthean community. As a Christian community they had welcomed everyone who had accepted Jesus as God's Son and so the community was made up of some colourful people of less than respectable backgrounds. Like the guests for the wedding, they had come from the outcasts, from the margins and those outside the Jewish faith. Many of them had repented because of the love and acceptance found in the Christian community, however, some had not changed their ways.

The Church in history is a mixture of saints and sinners and so this parable was of consolation to the early Church because it seemed as if Jesus had predicted the problems they were experiencing in their community and the ongoing disputes with the chief priests and elders of the Jewish community.

The third audience is us, the people today, here in this place in 2005 listening to the parable. We too have been invited to this wedding feast or messianic banquet as we now understand it to be. God is not obliged to invite us but does so as a free act of kindness. So how are we measuring up to this outpouring of God's love? Are we also ungrateful guests who are too busy to accept God's invitation? What does God think of our garments - our outer expression of our inner conversions?

Again and again we are invited - we don't have to go to holy places near and far, all we have to do is close our eyes and go to our "private room" our inner self and quietly be open to God's grace in our lives. We can be transformed by God's grace and become what we were created to be and by living lives based on God's love and acceptance of each person, the garment we wear becomes a most worthy wedding garment. The choice is ours - do we say "yes" to God or are we just too busy.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 17:11-19 - Cure of ten lepers - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This familiar story of healing ten lepers is often remembered because of the gratitude of one leper and the ingratitude of the other nine. Leprosy has always had a sigma and as a disease, has been greatly misunderstood across the centuries. In the time of Jesus, lepers were forced to live in the countryside away from villages and people generally. In a culture that placed heavy emphasis on ritual cleanliness, a leper was someone to avoid at all costs. Lepers generally gathered together in small groups with the common denominator being their disease rather than their ethnicity - hence the inclusion of a Samaritan with a group of Jews. Generally, Samaritans were ostracised because they had syncretised their beliefs (i.e. taken what they wanted from the religious philosophies of the time, including Judaism and paganism) and developed their own religion. Jews saw this as a rejection of the one true God and so as an ethnic group, Samaritans were marginalised.

Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem and his rendezvous with God's will when he encounters these lepers. The lepers cry out to Jesus for mercy and are told to go and show themselves to the priest - the healing happens as they were going. The nine healed Jewish lepers will retake their place in society and do not return to give thanks. The one on the margins, doubly so because of his ethnicity and his disease is the one who recognises that God is present in this healing. This good Samaritan has overcome the syncretisation of his forebears and recognises that he has found his salvation through Jesus. This once broken and unhealthy man has met the epitome of human wholeness in Jesus.

We too face the attractions of pagan culture, the magnetism of consumerism and the enticement of possessions. We too can develop various 'levels of leprosy' as we forego a more simple lifestyle and syncretise our beliefs and values. Sometimes we are very ready to label people because of their ethnicity, status or disease. You only need to look at how people with AIDS are shunned in our society and how little regard is given to the millions of people denied drugs so that drug companies maintain their profits - do we show that we know or care? Jesus offers us healing everyday and that healing comes through turning away from the enticements of this world and experiencing conversion and salvation through time spent with God.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time