We can pray with the memories of our being invited to parties, dances, and fancy dinners. Perhaps some of us have experienced huge tables of all kinds of delicious offerings. What a wonderful feeling to be wanted. How over-whelming abundance can seem.
We pray as well for the grace to respond eagerly and generously to all the invitations of life. The table of life is set, not always with the dishes we prefer. Sometimes the table is less abundant and sometimes empty. It is still the table of life and we are all invited. The promise is still presented for our faithful openness.
“On this mountain” God will be doing something mighty and surprising. All people will be invited to this banquet. The veil of death will be removed and all will see the goodness of the redeeming God.
“On this mountain” the hand of the saving God will rest with all reproaches wiped away. God will be seen, the God for Whom all look for comfort. The banquet and the mountain are images of the person, the messiah, who will welcome, feed and guard all peoples.
The Gospel continues the series of parables Jesus is speaking to the elders and chief priests of the people. His little story is clear to them, because it is about them. As in the Gospel of last-week’s liturgy the characters of the story are definite. The king, the servants, the first group of invitees, the second group of invitees, are all lined up for the narrative.
God has set a bountiful table for true living. The Jewish nation is the first called, but when they were invited by the prophets, they went to find true life elsewhere. These prophets were mistreated and murdered. The king got mad and sent other servants to call in all kinds of others, “bad and good.” The single element which is confusing is about the fellow who is not dressed properly. Who is that?
I remember going to a dance in high school at an all-girls academy. I was dressed well enough to pass my mother’s close inspection. Upon arriving at the door of the gym, I was not allowed in, because I did not have a suit coat on. I had a tie and sweater, but not the right apparel. Obviously they didn’t know who I was, but the name would not have gotten me in either.
If I had worn a sports coat I would have been admitted, but once in, my behavior would have had to be acceptable as well. If I had caused trouble of some kind or mistreated some of the girls, I, like this fellow in the Gospel, would have been tossed out. I know this, because this very thing happened to me. I was asked to leave such a dance, because I was actually mistaken for somebody else. The adults would not listen to me or my friends, so we went out into the darkness where I suspect there was some grinding of teeth.
This fellow of the Gospel was called and admitted into the banquet, but what he was not wearing were the deeds and attitudes appropriate to the chosen. Believing is the beginning, the entrance to the dance, but living on the outside what is inside is the ticket to stay. It is a two-edge story then. The elders and chief priests know what Jesus is thinking about them. Those who say they are following Jesus hear what He expects of them. They are dressed properly for the feast, but will they behave according to their beliefs.
The verses which follow this story we will hear next Sunday. These past parables are moving the minds and hearts of his Jewish listeners to entrap and conflict Him. Jesus knows His truth and lives it from the inside out. This is our invitation as well. We are invited to the banquet of the Eucharist and the dance of life. What abundance we receive at His table gratefully. We are invited to share that abundance generously with all who are invited to the New Mountain.
We experience so many invitations to other banquets of life. They are attractive and easy to enter. So many respond to these forms of living. The call of Jesus is but one voice among many. We can wonder at times if His way of living, of behaving are really what are life-giving, life-living ways. The promise remains, “on that day” and “on that mountain.” At times it can seem as if we are dancing alone or not doing the right step or sitting at the right table. We come to the table of the Eucharist surrounded by other dancers, other invitees who are dressed to live. We hear the words again that we are dressed in His Body and sent to behave in the new way. When we live the Eucharist we are not tossed out, but sent out to be His inviters to dance His dance.
“The rich suffer, want and go hungry,
but nothing shall be lacking to those who fear the Lord.”
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