- Published: Tuesday, 10 October 2017 22:11
LITURGY NOTES FOR THE 28th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Twenty Eighth Sunday of the Year
October 15th 2017
Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand
We pay our respects to them for their care of the land
May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.
I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,
the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,
and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.
As we gather today let us acknowledge the local traditional custodians of this land,
and the first people that live in our own respective areas
.........for they have performed age-old ceremonies
of storytelling, music, dance, celebrations and renewal
and along with all Aboriginal people,
hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia.
We acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today
and acknowledge with honour and respect our Elders
past, present and future and pay our respects to those who have,
and still do, guide us with their wisdom.
Finally, we acknowledge with shame that much suffering
still endures to the present generation.
We pray today with faith and hope
for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and ourselves
that God’s mercy and justice will walk
in our lives, our communities and in the heart of our nation.
‘We have passed beyond the imaginable limits of violence.
Can we pass equally beyond the imaginable limits of non-violence?’
First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 23:1-3, 3-4, 5-6
Second Reading: Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:1-10
§ Jesus, you offer us the joy of forgiveness, acceptance and love: Jesus, have mercy.
§ Christ, you came to invite all peoples into your circle of peace: Christ, have mercy.
§ Jesus, you invite to your banquet of love the weak and the humble, as well as the strong and the healthy: Jesus, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, you are bread for the journey: Jesus, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, you are the wine of compassion: Christ, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, you invite us to feast at your table: Jesus, have mercy.
God of goodness and kindness,
your love is the foundation of our lives
and you invite all peoples to the banquet of life.
May we welcome with open arms
people from all places and all nations,
the poor and the rich, the weak and the strong.
Prayer over the Gifts
God of goodness and kindness,
you prepared a table
for the sick and the healthy,
the poor and the rich,
for saints and for sinners.
May Jesus’ presence
rouse us from all fear
and lead us to the feast to which you invite all.
Deliver us, God of goodness and kindness,
from our fearfulness
that prevents us from accepting your invitation
to follow your Son.
Keep us from all that divides us
and lead us forward in hope
to the coming among us in power and mercy
of our Christ Jesus, our.
R/ For the kingdom..
Prayer after Communion
God of goodness and kindness,
we have celebrated the liberating presence
of Christ Jesus among us
Accompany us in life
through the Holy Spirit of your Son,
that together we may make
the impossible come true:
a world of justice and love.
Prayers of the Faithful (Please note that some of the prayers below are specifically appropriate for Anti-Poverty Week beginning on Sunday October 15. They have been edited but resources from 2015 Anti-Poverty Week Prayer Guide prepared by the Salvation Army and Caritas Australia)
Introduction: Let us pray that all those we encounter may hear and accept the Good News of Jesus to participate in the banquet of life. Let us say: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God will provide for all peoples a banquet of food and wine, may we be mindful of, and struggle for, a fair share of the earth’s resources for all peoples and that the poor nations achieve debt relief, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God will remove the mourning veil that covers the peoples and nations of the world, may we engage with out world to bring peace and freedom to those we encounter each day, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God will wipe away the tears from every face, we remember the people living with HIV/AIDS and living with the Ebola epidemic and seek to achieve a fair distribution of health care to those unable to access it, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God calls all peoples to share in the banquet of life and peace, may we work for the total inclusion of all the excluded people who remain at the doors of the church and society, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God has given us the gift of creation, may our hearts be converted so that we are mindful of the waste, neglect and destruction that we bring to the environment, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God has lovingly made all people with dignity, may those who are teachers of the Gospel work to overcome the recurring discrimination against people who are socially, economically and ethnically different, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God will wipe away the tears of those who weep, may we give consolation, strength and seek justice for those for those who have experienced loss of loved ones recently and those who have been deprived of liberty let us pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God has given us many good things for our sustenance and life together, our world throws food away and wastes water as people are hungry and thirsty in many parts of the world, especially in East Africa: may we find ways for those with much to share with those who have too little food, water, education and healthcare, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God has given us Jesus as the Peace-child: may we find the way to peace for every mother’s child in a world where there is war among the nations and violence within our cities, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because God sends people to help in the social services of our nation, we pray that their resolve be strengthened and that we see God’s plan for creation, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because leaders and politicians have the power to bring about change, we pray that they will in struggling with all forms of poverty in our nation take the side of the poor and resist the voices of greed, profit, self-interest and complacency and make bold choices for the well-being of all people, we pray:Be our life and joy, O God.
· Because many people without shelter have been neglected, may our nation adopt policies and strategies eradicate homelessness and commit to radical hospitality as a way of life, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God
· Because God’s Son became a refugee with no place to call his own, may we look with mercy on people who are fleeing from danger, who are homeless and hungry, by working to bring them relief, advocate for justice, and seek to inspire generosity and compassion in the hearts of all especially those in leadership, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God
· Because many people within our nation live physical and mental illness, and addictions, we pray for healing and that medical professionals will be able to have adequate resources to minister to those in need without judgmentalism or biase, we pray: Be our life and joy, O God
Concluding Prayer: God of goodness and kindness, you hear the prayers of those who call upon you. Hear our prayers that we may be strengthened to live the life you have offered us knowing that we can do all things in him who strengthens us.
October 15 World Mission Sunday
October 15 International Day of Rural Women
October 15 Anti-Poverty Week begins
‘School should be a place where each young person
is known and cared for and a place which is inclusive
and open, regardless of personal or family
circumstance. If young people don’t feel included
because of poverty-related reasons, they are very
much at risk of severe, lifelong disadvantage.’
Gerard Stafford, Former School Principal
Poverty, hardship and education
_ About 10%of Australian children (that is, about half a million children) live in a family which is suffering poverty or serious hardship.
_ More than one quarter of all homeless people are families with children.
_ Children from poorer families are six times more likely to go to school without breakfast than students from wealthier backgrounds.
_ Families pay more of the total cost of their children’s education than in most other developed countries.
_ Social disadvantage is the main cause of differences between children’s level of educational achievements (greater than in many other countries).
_ Children from poorer families are twice as likely as those from wealthy families to have very low levels of literacy and numeracy.
_ 40%of students from disadvantaged backgrounds leave school before year 12, but only 20%of students from high socio-economic backgrounds.
_ Children who do not complete year 12 or its equivalent are twice as likely to become unemployed as those who do.
October 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
October 19 Sinking of the SIEV X (2001)
The Cure of Troy
Human beings suffer.
They torture one another.
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.
History says, Don’t hope
On the side of the grave,’
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles.
And cures and healing wells.
Call miracle self-healing,
The utter self revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
And lightening and storm
And a god speaks from the sky
That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles.
Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013
For a nonviolent person, the whole world is one family
Women are responsible for their children, they cannot sit back, waste time and see them starve.
Wangari Maathai, environmentalist, an advocate for women's rights, an anti-poverty crusader, a political reformer, an educator, and an international peacemaker, was the first African woman to win a Nobel Prize. In Kenya, she served as Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife. She founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya..
African women in general need to know that it's OK for them to be the way they are -- to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.
The privilege of a higher education, especially outside Africa, broadened my original horizon and encouraged me to focus on the environment, women and development in order to improve the quality of life of people in my country in particular and in the African region in general.
All through the ages the African people have made efforts to deliver themselves from oppressive forces. It is important that a critical mass of Africans do not accept the verdict that the world tries to push down their throat so as to give up and succumb. The struggle must continue. It is important to nurture any new ideas and initiatives which can make a difference for Africa.
All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet. It must be this voice that is telling me to do something, and I am sure it's the same voice that is speaking to everybody on this planet - at least everybody who seems to be concerned about the fate of the world, the fate of this planet.
We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind. To do so effectively, the world needs a global ethic with values which give meaning to life experiences and, more than religious institutions and dogmas, sustain the non-material dimension of humanity. Mankind's universal values of love, compassion, solidarity, caring and tolerance should form the basis for this global ethic which should permeate culture, politics, trade, religion and philosophy. It should also permeate the extended family of the United Nations.
If you have men (sic) who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men (sic) who will deal likewise with their fellow men (sic).
Attributed to St Francis of Assisi.
The future isn't something hidden in a corner. The future is something we build in the present.
Material goods and the way we are developing the use of them should be seen as God's gifts to us. They are meant to bring out in each one of us the image of God. We must never lose sight of how we have been created: from the earth and from the breath of God.
Pope John Paul II, On Social Concern, #29
The only dream worth having... is to dream that you will live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead... To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or to complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
Arundhati Roy, from The Algebra of Infinite Justice
The most profound motive for our work is this knowing that we share in creation. Learning the meaning of creation in our daily lives will help us to live holier lives. It will fill the world with the spirit of Christ, the spirit of justice, charity, and peace.
Pope John Paul II, On Human Work, #25
As individuals and as a nation, therefore, we are called to make a fundamental 'option for the poor.' The obligation to evaluate social and economic activity from the viewpoint of the poor and the powerless arises from the radical command to love one's neighbor as one's self. Those who are marginalized and whose rights are denied have privileged claims if society is to provide justice for all. This obligation is deeply rooted in Christian belief.
U.S. Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #87
What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment and death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment ... inflict on his fellow men [women] a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.
We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves of our business partner Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag. And so, by the Providences of God - and the phrase is the government's, not mine - we are a World Power.
The vested interests - if we explain the situation by their influence - can only get the public to act as they wish by manipulating public opinion, by playing either upon the public's indifference, confusions, prejudices, pugnacities or fears. And the only way in which the power of the interests can be undermined and their maneuvers defeated is by bringing home to the public the danger of its indifference, the absurdity of its prejudices, or the hollowness of its fears; by showing that it is indifferent to danger where real danger exists; frightened by dangers which are nonexistent.
Sir Norman Angell 1872 - 1967
It is in the nature of imperialism that citizens of the imperial power are always among the last to know--or care--about circumstances in the colonies.
Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season, and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it. ... justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must never therefore be violated.
Manu 1200 bc
Every person born in this world represents something new,
something that never existed before,
something original and unique...
and every man or woman's foremost task is the
actualisation of his or her unique, unprecedented and
Martin Buber, Jewish Philosopher
The worst forms of tyranny, or certainly the most successful ones, are not those we rail against but those that so insinuate themselves into the imagery of our consciousness, and the fabric of our lives, as not to be perceived as tyranny.
We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
Martin Luther King Jr. delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City.
This world is full of suffering, distress, violence and catastrophes. People must decide: does that concern you or not? I say: look around, analyse the problems, ask yourself what you can do and set out!
Noam Chomsky, recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize, 2011
Well I'll make an effort to live up to the reputation of being disreputable.
Either there will be a world without war or there won’t be a world.
There is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
Anarchists try to identify power structures. They urge those exercising power to justify themselves. This justification does not succeed most of the time. Then anarchists work at unmasking and mastering the structures, whether they involve patriarchal families, a Mafia international system or the private tyrannies of the economy, the corporation. As soon as a person identifies, challenges and overcomes illegitimate power, he or she is an anarchist. Most people are anarchists.
The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent.
Charles Eliot Norton, (1827-1908) American scholar
It is one thing to wish to have truth on our side, and another to wish sincerely to be on the side of truth.
Richard Whately, On the Love of Truth
Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie, but rather mourn the apathetic … the coward and the meek who see the world's great anguish and its wrong, and dare not speak.
Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow and to love him as they love their cow - they love their cow for the milk and cheese and profit it makes them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God when they love him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have on your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost truth.
People must realize that even with all these comforts, all this money and a GNP that increases every year, they are still not happy. They need to understand that the real culprits are our unceasing desires. Our wants have no end.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, ‘Imagine All the People’
Each of the Iraqi children killed by the United States was our child. Each of the prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib was our comrade. Each of their screams was ours. When they were humiliated, we were humiliated. The U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq - mostly volunteers in a poverty draft from small towns and poor urban neighborhoods - are victims just as much as the Iraqis of the same horrendous process, which asks them to die for a victory that will never be theirs.
Arundhati Roy, ’Tide? Or Ivory Snow? Public Power in the Age of Empire.’
Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.
The bird who has eaten cannot fly with the bird that is hungry.
Native American (Omaha tribe) proverb
When it is genuine, when it is born of the need to speak, no one can stop the human voice. When denied a mouth, it speaks with the hands or the eyes, or the pores, or anything at all. Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated or forgiven by others.
Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
We must now surrender to the obligation to understand and to care. We must surrender ourselves to becoming conscious, thinking members of the human race. We must put down the temptation to powerlessness and surrender to the questions of the moment.
Joan Chittister osb
Feeling that morality has nothing to do with the way you use the resources of the world is an idea that can’t persist much longer. If it does, then we won’t.
Barbara Kingsolver, Backtalk
Great social forces are the mere accumulation of individual actions. Let the future say of our generation that we sent forth mighty currents of hope, and that we worked together to heal the world
Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty
My heart is moved by all I cannot save: so much has been destroyed. I have to cast my lot with those who age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute power.
Adrienne Rich, excerpted from ’Natural Resources’ in The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001.
Today, the same Christ is in people who are unwanted, unemployed, uncared for, hungry, naked, and homeless. They seem useless to the state and to society; nobody has time for them. It is you and I as Christians, worthy of the love of Christ if our love is true, who must find them, and help them; they are there for the finding.
Wedding Feast Matthew 22:1-14
He is off
the planet again!
who tells folk stories
normality and our
Where on earth
is royalty ignored?
when does the guest
from the wedding feast
of a prince?
Where’s any king
who would open his table
to the street?
To garbage collectors,
back packers, buskers,
and the dead beat?
One thing’s sure:
Christ’s quirky kingdom
of this world’s making.
Here kings swank
and royal halls are crammed
B.D. Prewer 1995
If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless, since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience the injustice of our fellows.
Molière [Jean-Baptiste Poquelin] (1622-1673) French playwright
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist and author
God does not have hands, we do. Our hands are God’s. It is up to us what God will see and hear, up to us, what God will do. Humanity is the organ of consciousness of the universe ... Without our eyes the Holy One of Being would be blind.
Lawrence Kushner, Jewish writer and speaker.
There have been periods of history in which episodes of terrible violence occurred but for which the word violence was never used.... Violence is shrouded in justifying myths that lend it moral legitimacy, and these myths for the most part kept people from recognizing the violence for what it was. The people who burned witches at the stake never for one moment thought of their act as violence; rather they thought of it as an act of divinely mandated righteousness. The same can be said of most of the violence we humans have ever committed.
Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace.
Once there is seeing, there must be acting.
Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?
Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and peace activist.
How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness? One man must not kill. If he does, it is murder.... But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is not murder. It is just, necessary, commendable, and right. Only get people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent. But how many does it take?
Adin Ballou, The Non-Resistant, February 5, 1845
Nonviolence is less a matter of ‘not killing’ and more a matter of showing compassion, of saving and redeeming, of being a healing community. One can only choose between doing good to the person placed in one's path, or to do them evil. To do good is to love a person; but not to do that is as good as killing them. To love someone is to restore them physically, socially, and spiritually. To neglect and postpone this restoration is already to kill.
Reflections on the readings……
Isaiah’s vision reflects God’s vision – one that wants the good or shalom for all people. Where there is poverty and injustice, God wants people fed and justly treated. It has been said that the human mind is a factory of idol making. Whether our idols are gun ownership, nationalism, the flag and anthem, prosperity, consumerism - they tend to be grounded in ideologies that put our interests ahead of the well-being of others and God. God treasures innovation and creativity, even colouring outside the lines; yet true creativity – true freedom – emerges when we blend our vision with God’s vision for the well-being of ourselves and the world. Where there is nationalism and ethnic and racial division, God seeks to destroy whatever divides people. Do the people who prefer to put their trust in power, privilege and possessions really provide us with security? Or protect us from crisis? Isaiah knew of heaps of stones that once fortified the homes of the proud no longer stand. They failed to accomplish their task of keeping people safe and secure. The privileged may have walls to hide behind, but these are temporary. Isaiah is keen to reveal a God who is a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy and those in distress.
The message of the consumer society to those caught at the lowest rung of society is loud and unrelenting: You are a failure. Popular culture celebrates those who wallow in power, wealth and self-obsession and perpetuates the lie that if you work hard and are clever you too can become a ‘success’. The great gap between the world of glitter broadly understood and the bleak world they inhabit manifests itself in our diseases of despair—suicides, addictions, mass shootings, hate crimes and depression. Our oppressors have skillfully acculturated us to blame ourselves for our oppression. Chris Hedges (Faces of Pain, Faces of Hope Truthdig https://www.truthdig.com/articles/faces-pain-faces-hope/) says that it is not by building pathetic, tiny monuments to ourselves that we become autonomous and free human beings but through acts of self-sacrifice, by recovering a sense of humility, by affirming the sanctity of others and thereby the sanctity of ourselves.
This vision reflected in today gospel parable is different to the culture of narcissism and greed. The banquet symbolises God’s desire to gather and to be connected to all people. It is not about alienation or separation or sifting people in or out. Today this might be expressed in the term ‘option for the poor.’ God’s reign is like a wedding feast prepared for his son. We have heard the excuses. The one with the farm was too attached to his material possessions to hear God’s invitation; those with business interests preferred profit and wealth rather than a meaningful relational life. The violent ones drowned out God’s challenge because of their greed and selfishness.
The parable reveals Jesus’ love for us and the limits to which he will go to make sure that we have received this inclusive invitation. But we can miss sharing in Jesus’ vision and the invitations for intimacy which includes doing justice, making peace, reflecting and seeing in the face of the other the face of Christ. We can be distracted by consumerism, discrimination, militarism, sexism, racism, fear, isolation, rugged individualism, nationalism, etc. To accept the invitation is the opposite to the spirit that puts nations on the verge of war or conflict; it is the very opposite to the spirit that puts us in a world of radical economic inequality and injustice; it is opposite to the spirit that would have us turn away from people who seek protection and security. This is not the agenda of those present at the banquet.
Matthew was putting this into the gospel at a time when the community had begun to be somewhat complacent and forgotten the thrill of making the reign of God happen, of reaching out to the poor and the downcast and the oppressed and drawing them in. Matthew was telling the parable to a community that needed to be energized, made aware once more of what the work of the Christian community is. It is important that we also acknowledge that many Christians have disregarded or devalued God’s continuing invitation to join the feast through the centuries. We need only consider how the church still continues to safeguard admission to the Eucharist where there are limitations on those who are welcome.
Matthew's parable seems strikingly violent. It cannot be taken literally. It is about generosity and rejection of generosity. In the face of rejection, all the street people are welcome. These images remind us the threat and subversiveness of God Reign in a world so huge social and economic barriers. Wealth and social status had God's approval. The rich and privileged would always be so, and the poor would always be in their service or their debt. The great upset in today’s parable is the general and open invitation. Social barriers are broken. What were the seats of the privileged are now open to anyone. Everyone is equal. The final shock or upset is that all are equal in God’s reign. This destroys any idea that one’s place within the Reign depended upon one's standing in sacred geography. God's Reign is universal - for all peoples and cultures. This new era includes all people without ethnic, cultural or social bias.
The bottom line is that God’s reign is celebrated with the destitute and sinners. Table fellowship occurs with the poor, with people who seem to the world to be of no account, people who fall through society's cracks and live on the streets or hang around street corners. Some sleep in the underground stations, or on presbytery porches or underneath our churches and cathedrals. Mostly these are homeless people living with mental illness who risk abuse, assault or more seriously death. But this is where salvation takes place. Pope Francis has intimated that God's loving kindness and mercy is attracted by our need, not our achievements or virtues. But we must also accept a God who becomes so vulnerable as to join us where we are.
The treatment of the guest seems puzzling. It has been suggested that this was added by Matthew to deal with conflict between the Christian and Jewish community. God is not a real stickler for propriety and protocol. Jesus’ social encounters show the importance of love and friendship. It is this man's fault that he does not have the proper garment having just come off the street and no less dressed than the other ‘street people’ at the banquet?
It is the mean and small of heart that deny themselves entry. This is a ‘hell’ where there is disconnectedness, isolation. The dress is reflected in concretely living out the sentiments expressed in the heart of God: love, care, passion for justice, friendship, warmth, generosity and joy. Do we ignore the deeper reflection that requires us to examine whether our deeds (‘wedding garment’) match what we profess.
Isaiah's vision animates and encourages us to collaborate with God in helping to bring about this new gathering of peoples. So, we roll up our sleeves and throw ourselves again into the work of peace making among enemies; caring for the poor; helping the voiceless find justice; nursing the sick and sitting with the dying. Our daily works consist in sharing the good news in our words and daily works.
Jesus' life put flesh on this parable. By sitting with the poor, outcasts and sinners, he lives out God’s desire to be with us. When people unite with one another they are doing the work of love and taking the opportunity to be part of the transformation of society.
Beyond the strategy to save the party is the rich notion of God's generosity, enthusiasm and delight in all people not to mention the pain at their refusal to share the freely offered life.
So, the appropriate RSVP is not about clothes but about what is in our heart. It seems to be connected to living one’s life in love and friendship, peace and justice. The dress is reflected in concretely living out in one’s life the sentiments expressed in the heart of God: love, care, passion for justice, friendship, warmth, generosity and joy. If we talk to and/or care to observe we can see in the streets the poor and vulnerable people -drug addicts, street people, homeless, mentally – who tend to look out for one another whereas the mean and small of heart somehow are left behind. It can seem like ‘hell’ (even without knowing it) where there is disconnectedness, isolation, doom and gloom. Note: the end of last week's gospel, ‘The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.’
Isaiah's vision animates and encourages us to collaborate with God in helping to bring about this new gathering of peoples especially today where more and more people are seeking to erect walls, barriers and fences between people within countries and between countries. . So, we roll up our sleeves and throw ourselves again into the work of peace-making among enemies; caring for the poor; helping the voiceless find justice; nursing the sick and sitting with the dying. Our daily works consist in sharing the good news in our words and daily works.
People like Jesus, Paul, Simon Weil, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Steve Biko were all caught up with the transcendent in their lives. This transcendence was intimately linked to the earth and the concern to bring justice, peace and healing. The poet, Edward Hirsch, urges us to wed our social consciousness to our mysticism. The late Father Pedro Arrupe (former superior general of the Jesuits) spoke of a ‘mysticism of the open eyes’. Simone Weil, never became a Christian thought very drawn to Jesus, found the heart of Christianity at the church door rather than inside. We cannot turn away from the ‘world’ to do mystic flights in isolated prayer, but we must kneel today and each day amidst the present day rubble, the various Ground Zeros in the world whether in Orlando, Las Vegas, Raqqa, Aleppo, Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brewarrina and Bourke and Moree, the rubbish dumps of Manila, the railway tunnels in Sydney’s underground stations that house the mentally ill, etc. Somehow, the gospel is calling us to not only wrestle with the angels in our prayers but with the demons in our daily lives especially those demons that tend to steer us, because of fear, to look away, to remain silent, to do nothing.
Each of us can take down the book of our lives and reflect on all the invitations that God has sent us. They have come in different shapes and sometimes we have failed to respond because, like the people in the gospel, we had things to protect and work to do. With some invitations we found ourselves among both the good and the bad as in the wedding hall. Uncomfortable with sharing the banquet with all the ‘street people’, we were careful not to identify with the mob. In the midst of all those missed opportunities, however, we remember, or are reminded of the times we did respond well.it was those times we came to Eucharist and recognised the faces of our brothers and sisters. It was the times we took heed of the challenge at the end of Mass, ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’.