In this homily, Father Richard considers the parable of the wedding feast and points out how few of us seem even to desire to attend God’s banquet. Click here to read the Gospel passage (Matthew 22:1–10).
God has always had a very hard time giving away God: No one seems to want this gift. We’d rather have religion, and laws, and commandments, and obligations, and duties. I’m sure many of us attend church out of duty, but gathering with the Body of Christ is supposed to be a wedding feast. Do you know how many times in the four Gospels eternal life is described as a banquet, a feast, a party, a wedding, the marriage feast of the Lamb? There are fifteen different, direct allusions to eternal life being a great, big party.
Do you know how many parables there are about eternal life being a courtroom or a judgment scene? One. Matthew 25. And that’s good. We need Matthew 25 because it makes it very clear that the ultimate issue is about how we care for the poor and marginalized. But we forget this good news of Jesus, sending a message out to the highways and the byways, inviting everybody who’s willing to come to the banquet. It’s that simple!
Jesus goes out of his way to mention the good and the bad alike. We don’t like that either. We only want the good people to be there at the banquet, assuming, of course, that we’re the good people. Did you ever see the irony of that? Don’t you realize that every religion thinks that they are the ones that God likes? And we end up gathering at the party with that smug certitude; but when we do, it resembles something that very often isn’t much like a party. I don’t want to offend anybody, but sometimes only half of us even sing when we’re at church; half of us don’t even pick up the hymnals. I’m not trying to be cruel, but let’s just be honest and admit that many of us aren’t excited to be at church. For many of us, the Body of Christ is not a party.
Instead, we often believe that heaven is a giant courtroom scene. The good people win, the bad people lose, and almost everybody is bad except our group. That won’t work! It gives no joy and no hope to the world. It tells people they’re on the right side when sometimes they’re very unloving people who don’t care about the poor or the marginalized at all. And the statistics prove that Christians are no better than anybody else, in fact, very often—I’m sorry to say it—we’re worse.
Do we want to be a part of the wedding feast to which all are invited? The only people who don’t get in on the party are those who don’t want to come—so I guess we have to ask ourselves, “Do we want to come?”
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “In the End, a Banquet,” homily, October 14, 2017.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Franciscan writer Ilia Delio on the “love energy of God.”
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 12 (detail), 2022, photograph, Colorado, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Bexley Park (detail), used with permission. Claudia Retter, Oak and Moss (detail), photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
This week’s images by Carrie Grace Littauer and Claudia Retter appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Parables require us to take a second look. These images make us pause and wonder, “what is that, really?” Perhaps it’s my own shadow, responding from the subconscious with knee-jerk reactions and judgments.
Story from Our Community:
I recently retired from working as a parish priest in the Church of England in order to focus fully on mental health counseling. My calling is to heal the sick of body, mind, and spirit. I have been walking through a dark night of the soul since 2011, a deconstruction that continued for far longer than I thought possible. But it was only in this darkest of years that reconstruction has begun. Reading your daily meditations has been part of that reconstruction process. Thank you for introducing me to others who think so broadly and so beautifully. Your work enables mine. —Karen H.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.