(Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 25:6-10; Philippians 4:12-20; Matthew 22:1-14)
“On this mountain,” proclaims Isaiah, “the Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of his people he will remove.” In telling the story of La Salette, we invariably speak of a mountain, of tears, and reproaches.
In tears on that mountain, the Blessed Virgin Mary reproached her people especially for their lack of a living faith.
Another image in common between La Salette and this reading from Isaiah, and with the Gospel, is the banquet. It occurs explicitly in Isaiah and Matthew, and implicitly in Our Lady’s message, when she speaks of the Mass. On the Mountain of La Salette she reminds us of the feast that the Lord has provided in the Eucharist.
The identification of the Eucharist as a banquet goes back at least as far as St. Augustine, who died in the year 430 AD. He wrote: “You are seated at a great table… The table is large, for the banquet is none other than the Lord of the banquet himself…; though host, he himself is both food and drink.”
In Matthew’s version of the Parable of the Wedding Feast, the invited guests refused to come. Some even engaged in gratuitous violence towards the messengers. Indifference and hostility toward religion in many places is a fact that Christians have to face.
The above quotation from Augustine is from one of his sermons, but it is not directly about the Eucharist. It is about martyrdom. The body derives little sustenance from a small host and a sip from the chalice, but the spirit is strengthened, encouraged, emboldened. As St. Paul writes, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”
From this point of view, we can put the Beautiful Lady’s words, about lack of reverence for the Mass, in the same context as what she says about the famine. She weeps because her people are faced with starvation, physically and spiritually.
In the Act of Consecration to Our Lady of La Salette we say: “May I so live as to dry your tears and console your afflicted heart.” One way to accomplish that goal is our faithful and loving participation in the Eucharist.