Homily: I Cannot Come To The Banquet

A142OT28_1_cf03_4cThe parable of the wedding feast has all the ingredients of a good story. There is the ‘larger than life element’ – not one or two guests failed to turn up but every last one of them. Then there are those who put on airs getting their payback and the triumph of the ‘little people’ when their attitude of putting on airs was scoffed at by the people from the streets who took their place.

There is the humor of imagining what it must have been like when you comb the streets to fill the seats: some of them won’t know what fork to use, who must have found themselves sitting next to whom.

Finally there is the shock ending which brings one up short. In spite of the open door policy, someone is turned away.

So the king’s true colors come through! And then the parallels kick in: salvation is rejected by those groomed for it, but you don’t receive God’s grace just by default – it places upon you an obligation of some seriousness.

But, of course, it is not a story. It is a parable of how our seeking of the ultimate banquet of God will go if we are not careful. You can’t assume you will simply get there because you belong; and just because those won’t get there just because they think they have a lock on it, doesn’t mean that we will inherit it by default.

One of the most dangerous temptations for traditional Christians is an easy assumption that they have responded to God’s invitation and are now comfortably seated at the banquet table waiting for their final and inevitable reward. This temptation is so insidious because it really is based on the fact of faithful religious observance.

Our lovely wedding garment begins to look somewhat soiled and shabby, when we begin to probe our hidden prejudices. Most of us claim not to be prejudiced, of course, but It’s almost certain that such a claim is in fact the worst prejudice of all, because it means that we’re not even conscious of our biases. It’s much better to be aware of them so that we can at least try to correct our attitudes.

It’s just those traditional and confident Christian communities that are most likely to be burdened by racism and sexism. It’s so easy to forget that Jesus associated freely and lovingly with all kinds of people who were considered unworthy by the “upright” folks of his day. The Samaritan of today would probably be the gay and the transvestite person. Until recently, they were themtrue outcasts.

This reminds us that the true characteristics of followers of Jesus are love and tolerance and respect for others, regardless of their social status or perceived unworthiness.

This doesn’t at all imply that one should condone unseemly behavior. But we should spend at least as much time removing the log from our own eye as in searching for the speck in our neighbor’s eye. Pride is such an insidious spiritual virus that it can spoil even our best efforts. I find it helpful to consider that definition of pride which notes that it is not so much the tendency to think too much of oneself as it is to think too little of others. How we think of others, and how tolerant we are of their shortcomings, will tell us a lot about whether we think too highly of ourselves.

No comments yet

Comments are closed