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A few months ago I was working on a homily which I ended up calling: What does it take to be a member of Christ’s church? . preparing for this sermon started me down a path of considering what might be considered the “non-negotiables” for being a follower of the “way”, a disciple of Christ. Right now I have landed on 4 non-negotiables- looking for a fifth- and they call on us to:

  1. Have faith that we are the beloved of God
  2. Follow Christ’s teachings on Love (Love of God/self/neighbor/ enemy)
  3. Follow Jesus teachings on Forgiveness
  4. Practice Inclusion vs. Exclusion

My friend and fellow itinerant preacher Deacon Rob Kinghorn clearly illustrates point 4- that we are to be a people of inclusion not exclusion as he asks us to consider who Jesus might invite to the banquet table if he was to visit our Church on any given Sunday.

Deacon Robert Kinghorn: Homily for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

                                                                                                                                                          (Click here to Read Matthew’s  Parable of the Wedding Feast)

Last week I met someone on the street in my ministry downtown that I had not seen for about 2 years. I always wonder when people suddenly disappear. Have they got clean, died, moved away? I looked for her every week when I walk down Sherbourne and when I met her again last week it was good to catch up. She had in fact moved to Montreal for 2 years but now she was back in town.

I reminded her of the last time I had seen her. She had wanted to talk about scripture and asked me to sit down on a wall to talk. Then she proceeded to recite from memory the whole of the passage that talks of Jesus being crucified. When she had finished the part that talked of Jesus turning to the “good thief” and saying, “This day you will be with me in paradise” she said, “Do you believe he will do this for me?” But then she said something quite sad. She said, “I think God meant me to be on the streets and a drug addict and a prostitute. We are all meant for something and God made me an addict.” It was a statement about pre-destination; that we are all meant for something, and some people just draw the short straw. Whether she truly believed it, or just felt sorry for herself and the choices she has made, I don’t know.

I thought about this meeting because of today’s readings. Both the first reading from Isaiah and the gospel talk about what God’s plan is for all of us. Isaiah talks about the banquet on the mountain. As you know scripture talks very often in images, and this is the image that everyone knew referred to the great kingdom of God, the time of the reign of God coming to earth. This is God’s vision for the world and what the kingdom of God will be like; a time when all can sit down together and eat in peace. It is not a vision for some to end up as drug addicts and others not; some to have food and some to starve. When we say, “Thy kingdom come” it is a vision of when all are invited to the banquet and can sit together.

This takes us to the gospel. Once again a story about a king who invited his people to a banquet; some came and some had excuses, and eventually he invited the good and the bad alike. I have mentioned before that we should always listen in the gospel for who it is that Jesus is addressing. In this reading he is talking to the scribes and the Pharisees; those who loved their power and position and felt that it would be enough to get them to the kingdom of God. It is also addressed to all of us who think that for some reason we have a right to the kingdom before others.

Imagine this happens …

We are sitting here as we do every Saturday/Sunday celebrating the Eucharist, the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice, the foretaste of the heavenly banquet, when Jesus walks in. He is pleased, I hope, seeing us here and he says, “Wait I’ll be right back.” In a few minutes he comes back with a group from the Synagogue across the road and they walk in and sit beside us. How do you feel about that? “I’m off again.” He says. And he goes around the neighbourhood and soon comes back with a group of people who were sitting in the bars down Avenue road and have never been to church in their lives, and they walk in and sit beside us. How do you feel about that? “Wait,” he says, “you folk just talk among yourselves and get to know one another, I need a bit longer.” And he goes downtown and finds some people who are passed out on drugs. Then he goes to George Street and finds a few drug dealers. Finally he finds my friend plying her trade on Sherbourne and he says to her, “Today you will be with me in paradise. Follow me to St. Margaret’s.” And they all walk in that door there and sit down beside us. And Jesus says, “Now my banquet is complete.” How do you feel about that?

Don’t you feel a bit cheated? Don’t you feel like saying, “A few of us sure don’t belong here”? It’s at that moment that we condemn ourselves. Now, I am by no means a biblical scholar, far from it. But I have looked at this reading, and I have looked at many, many commentaries on it by people who are biblical scholars, and I did not see any of them that said Jesus was only joking. That he did not really mean it when he said the kingdom would be offered to the good and the bad alike. And after all, which are we, the good or the bad? This is why this is such good news. We are both the good and the bad. We know that. And yet there is a place for us as well.

To be at home in the kingdom of God we have to break our addiction for being and appearing perfect. Our trust is not in our own strength but in God’s mercy. Isn’t that true?

God has prepared a banquet for us. This is good news. This is very good news and all we have to do is to accept the invitation, and not be scandalized by the one that God selects to sit beside us. This is vision that God has for the kingdom; a vision that has lasted for thousands of years and which waits for its fulfillment. It is a vision of happiness and joy for all, and no one is called to anything less by God. This is good news for us, and it is good news for my friend on Sherbourne Street. I pray that she accepts that invitation when she hears it and does not think she is any less worthy than the rest of us.

One Response to “The Parable of the Wedding Feast: A reflection by Robert Kinghorn”

  1. Olivia says:

    Excellent way to explain the parable in a very tangible manner.