Friday, December 2, 2011
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14
It is the season of celebrations and parties. People decorating homes and inviting others to come ring in the holidays. Whatever season and whatever the celebration, there are times in our lives when we have a hard time celebrating. It may be because of loss or pain, exclusion or loneliness, but not everybody is ready to party in this season. Many suffer from enormous stress and depression this time of year. Many find themselves slogging through another family gathering just praying they will make it until they can go home and hide. And then some of us are not really party people. At this time of year, it is good to be aware of how hard the season is for so many and go tenderly into our celebrations and invitations.
Jesus tells a parable about a wedding feast and guests who refuse to attend, or who don't dress for the occasion. They are punished severely. I used to bristle against this parable, as one who sometimes would rather not celebrate with obnoxious insensitive people, and as someone who likes the gentler, quieter kinds of celebrations. But this parable is not about being a party person, it is about responding to God's love. The parable invites us to welcome love when it comes our way, and when God touches our lives with abundance to celebrate and share that love and abundance with others. We are encouraged by this parable to come close to God and rejoice in the love we have, in our quiet or loud ways, with our whole hearts.
Today as we deepen our journey into Advent, I ask God for an extra measure of tenderness for those who suffer during this season. May my life be dedicated to sharing the gifts of God -love and abundance-in ways that all people can receive them and feel welcome at the table. May my journey and my countenance be humble and welcoming and may I see God near in the faces of all those I encounter today. May we all celebrate the love we have from God by loving and caring for all we touch today.