In the late 1960 a musical group of women religious, called the Medical missionary sisters, composed a song that went with the parable presented in today’s Gospel. None of us who were around in those heady days liturgical and musical achievement are ever likely to forget its words
I cannot come to the banquet
Don’t bother me now
I have married a wife
I have bought me a cow
I have fields and commitments
That cost a pretty sum
I cannot come to the banquet
I cannot come
While it is quite obvious these women were medical missionaries and not English teachers, their observation seems right on the money
Every one has some kind of excuse
We start making excuses from our earliest years
The dog ate my homework
My grandmother died suddenly (for the ninth time)
I am sick and cannot play dodge ball today
Later the excuses become more sophisticated as life itself becomes more complex
My inner child is suffering
I have a repressed memory
I lived in a shame based patriarchal biosystem
No one understands me
Now I know this is going to come as a surprise, but, we even hear people making excuses in Church life
I had to miss mass because the roof of my house caved in
The organist at that parish plays too loudly, therefore I can’t come to church
I had to stay home and wait for the Sunday paper to arrive
The excuses of life seem endless
In the Gospel today, the guests had a thousand excuses, marital, bovine, or otherwise as to why they just could not make it to the glorious celebration the king was throwing.
Fields, commitments, spouses, livestock are all encompassing and yet,
Our Host, let’s just call him God instead of KING, has provided something really extraordinary, something that is destined to dazzle, God has prepared a meal for his guests, and not only a meal, an extravaganza. God has prepared lavishly, sumptuously, embarrassingly,. Graciously and yet Excuses for failing to come to the banquet remain as rampant and as myriad as the clever curvatures of each one’s mind
And of course this banquet is not just a great dinner. In fact, it is the banquet of God’s love and grace
I cannot come to the banquet, so what are my alternatives?
I am too angry to come to the banquet of God’s love
So I’ll just sit here in the corner and pout, supping on the cold Pop-Tart of my own hurt feelings and grudges. They didn’t want me at the banquet anyway
I will not come to the banquet of grace
So I’ll just zip through the drive through at McEgo and partake of the fast food of my way, my preferences and tastes, my vision.. And I can be a glutton if I like because at Mc Ego you always know where your next meal is coming from
I am too proud to come to the banquet of mercy and forgiveness
So I’ll just take my self on a little self-pity picnic and sit alone, under the tree of my own vanity and munch on the luncheon of self congratulation and personal delight
I am too old to come to the banquet of God’s generosity
So I’ll just stay in bed and slurp down the cold gruel of my own infirmities. Loneliness and fear
I am too poor to come to the banquet of God’s plenty
So, Ill just hangout here on the street corner of life, waiting for someone to feed me, emaciated by my own inability to ask anyone else for help.
I cannot come to the banquet. There are endless excuses as to why I will not accept the hospitality of the host, the graciousness of God and frankly none of them are very good.
The interesting thing about God however is this. He never backs away from his invitation.
God never loses heart even when our hearts are hardened to the needs of others, to our own shortcomings, to God’s particular invitation
God never forgets us, even when in our sinfulness, our stubbornness and pride, we forget ourselves and who we really are and we bury ourselves all the lies and deceptions that our culture heaps upon us
God never fails to call us, even when the cell phones of our consciousness have been disconnected and will not take any new calls, will not accept any new opportunities, will not hear any Good news
God always confront s us with the challenge to be better than the miserable wretches that we are, to see the world in fresh and life giving ways.
God always hopes for us even when the bright beacon of hope has been extinguished by our own pessimism and wrongheaded pursuits
God always loves us and holds us in infinite worth even when we blatantly demonstrate again and again that we do not love ourselves, Cannot wear with impunity the wedding garment we received at baptism
cannot see in ourselves the beauty that God has given us in calling us his children
Yet sisters and brothers that is what we are. Children and guests of a merciful, forgiving, patient and infinitely loving God.
And so the table is always set, the candles are always lit, the entertainment is always standing by.
Here in this banquet the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food
Here in this banquet, God will satisfy all our hungers, not with the perishable food of human consumption, but with his own body and blood, the richness of which we can only measure in mercy, the power of which we can only conceive in the priceless witness of falling in love
Here in this banquet he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations
Here in this banquet, there can be no fear, no self reproach, no morbid consciousness, because here we are all beggars and wayfarers, Here in this banquet there is no slave or free, no woman or man, no Jew or gentile, no rich or poor. We all come with what we have, which is nothing and receive what God gives, which is everything.
Here in this banquet The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
there is no time and no room for sorrow, for grudges, for hurts, for animosity, for shame, for death, because here we encounter not the hostile hospitality of the world but the robust reality of the living God, who comes to us in the breaking of bread and pouring out of wine (what a clever disguise) in words of comfort and challenge, in the very presence of the sinful and needy people we are.
Here in this banquet God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Because Christ is all in all
Because Christ is everything
Because Christ eradicates the venal vestiges of human ego
Because Christ shows us how much we are worth
Because While we are still sinners, Christ died for us, he died for us. What host can do more than that
Christ is all our hopes and all our dreams and all we are and all we wish to be
Because Christ, humbled himself and became obedient unto death
And gained for us an immeasurable prize, a place at the table.
We have a place at the table. Always there for us, if only we can come in.
Once we were no people, but now we are god’s people
Here in this banquet
Here in this banquet we encounter the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, How happy are those called to this banquet
Will we come?
Will we come?