"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast" (Mt 22:2).
In the Gospel just proclaimed, Jesus describes the kingdom of God as a great marriage feast, with an abundance of food and drink, in a joyous and festive atmosphere for all the guests. At the same time, Jesus emphasizes the need for the "wedding garment", that is, the need to respect the conditions required for taking part in this solemn feast.
The image of the feast is also present in the first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, which stresses the universality of the invitation "for all peoples" (Is 25:6), and the disappearance of all suffering and pain: "God will wipe away tears from all faces".
These are God's great promises, which were fulfilled in the redemption brought by Christ and which the Church proclaims in her evangelizing mission and offers to all mankind. Communion of life with God and our brethren, which the action of the Holy Spirit brings to believers' lives, is centered on the Eucharistic banquet, the source and summit of all Christian experience. The liturgy reminds us of this every time we prepare to receive Christ's Body. Before Communion the priest says to the faithful: "Happy are those who are called to his supper." Yes! We are truly happy because we are invited to the eternal banquet of God's salvation, prepared for the whole world.
The Eucharist is "panis filiorum", the bread of God's children. This expression of the Church's Eucharistic piety reminds us of another fundamental aspect which has special resonance in this year of grace, when with all the holy people we will turn our gaze to God the Father who is in heaven.
The Eucharist is the food of God's children, the living Bread of God come down from heaven which gives life to the world. "My Father gives you the true bread from heaven" (Jn 6:32), Jesus says. For this reason the Church celebrates the Eucharist with her eyes and heart turned to the holy and merciful Father, source of all holiness, who nourishes us every day with the gift of the Body and the Blood of his beloved Son.
The Eucharistic prayer overflows with gratitude to the Father for giving us the Victim of our reconciliation, and in it we remember that Christ is the Bread of the children of God who grants us a share in his divine life: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (Jn 6:57). Everything in the Eucharist comes from the Father and everything returns to him, through Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
To participate worthily in the Eucharistic banquet, the true banquet of God's children, we must be wearing our "wedding garment" (Mt 22:11). This is why the Church offers us the sacrament of Reconciliation. In it we receive forgiveness through the merciful embrace with which God welcomes us. This is the source of true peace and inner joy, which enables us to feel like children and brethren, reconciled around the table of the Eucharist.