There is an old saying about fatigue making cowards of us all. There is a little bit of truth there I guess. Becoming tired has various effects on our spirits as well as our bodies. Physically, fatigue can make us drop things, lessen awareness of our senses, and tends to isolate us socially.
Spiritual fatigue, now there’s a new one. Maybe it is heretical to imagine even thinking or saying that we can grow tired of God, prayer, the sacraments and the whole idea of religion. Well there I said it and I know it is true. Tired can be the same as being bored. It does not surprise me that people will say that they are tired of hearing about the war, the hurricanes, the election and even 9-11. We so long for the new and different, something to excite our minds. We often say to others, “What’s new?” Usually we get back a somewhat tired, “O, not much.”
We are living within the influence of the same old Eucharist and wandering toward the next old renewal of the New Covenant. There is nothing boring, only bored persons. This week we tiredly, yet tirelessly seek the very new in the very same and old. What is new in the Eucharist is our living the lives God gave us and Jesus re-gives us each time we gather.
The bells, which are sometimes rung during parts of the mass, are not meant to wake up the community. The reception of the Eucharist is itself a “wake-up call” and not just to the aspects of the liturgy, but the aspects of the living out of that liturgy. What’s new? I am and you are to me, if I am not too tired. This week check your spiritual fatigue and if you are tired read Psalm 131 and take a nap.
Our First Reading is a poem for the hungry listener. The verses immediately before these verses are a thanksgiving celebration of God’s care for the city of Jerusalem against all invaders. What we hear is a prediction, in tasty figures, of a “time to come” a “then” when the promised Messiah would bring about all fruitfulness and abundance. On that day, all peoples will have their sight sharpened so as to be able to see the goodness of the providing God.
This people is hungry for the presence and presents of God, especially safety and protection from their enemies. The “mountain”, the symbol of dominion and defense, will be unavailable to destruction if the people keep relating the stories that lead to their saying, “For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.”
The Gospel doubles with last week’s parable. Again all elements are easily accounted for. The King is God, the marriage banquet is the result of the Messiah’s coming and dominion. The son is the Messiah, the servants again are the ancient prophets. The invited are all of us, especially the gentiles and sinners. The one you really want to know about is the apparent contradiction to the joyous feast. The person without a wedding garment is a real curve ball. Who is this mystery guest?
The theme of this parable might just be, “There is no free lunch.” They are all invited to the kingdom, or feast. The garment has been considered, perhaps, Baptism, could be I guess. The major themes in Matthew however, would lead to the practical living out the acceptance of being invited. Jesus, in this parable, moves from invitation, through acceptance to vocation or doing the deeds of faith. This fellow represents spiritless, actionless, indulgence. The insult of this parable is to the Pharisees and elders whom Jesus pictures as eating well, but doing nothing for the Jewish people into whose care they have been entrusted.
If I were the king in this parable, I would have given the fellow a menu, because he had been eating selfishly. He was so intent on eating that he did not even know about the garment he was to have been wearing. On the top of the menu I would have written a paraphrase of chapter six beginning at verse thirteen.
“Put in your mouth, the whole Meal at this
table so that when you stand up you will stand up with and for others.
The man was thrown out, because the Meal of ingesting the Person and Teachings of Jesus remained undigested, caught in his throat. Jesus makes each “me” into a “we” and that intimacy with Him brings fruitful life to me and through me to His sisters and brothers. There is no free lunch; no taking Him inside, but rather what goes in must come out, grace leading onto grace. The multiplying effect of being invited into Christ is moving Him into life around us. The cost of the Lunch is paid way long after our being invited.
“The rich suffer, want, and go hungry, but nothing shall be lacking for those who fear the Lord.” Ps. 34, 11
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