“Here on Mount Zion the LORD Almighty will prepare a banquet for all the nations of the world — a banquet of the richest food and the finest wine. Here he will suddenly remove the cloud of sorrow that has been hanging over all the nations. The Sovereign LORD will destroy death for ever! He will wipe away the tears from everyone's eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world.” ~Isaiah 25:6-10
Isn’t this a lovely description by Isaiah of heaven on earth?
“We” on Mount Zion are eating rich foods and drinking choice wines with God who is lavishing us with Love. This love destroys all veils that separate us and destroys all webs of our human structures that our woven to keep nations separate, and even allows us to trust so deeply that our fear of death will be destroyed and every tear wiped away.
Who of us does not yearn for this for self, others, and all creation?
Who of us have not experienced moments of this unity in our own lives—a mystical moment with our God who dwells deep within and casts out all fear? Moments when one may feel sane, spiritual, and saintly all at once! Moments of sensing all is well in the universe.
In this Gospel, Jesus’ parable told in the literary form of an allegory confirms that it is this transforming Love that is the wedding garment to be worn at the wedding banquet—a banquet of luscious food and choice wines.
We today, the 21st century Christians, in these uncertain times listen once again through Jesus to God’s invitation: Come to the banquet, eat at the table of Love, and celebrate God’s abundant Love for all that is seen and unseen; all that has been, is now, and will be; Love is your salvation.
Who does not want to come to this feast? Why would anyone say “no” to such an invitation?
In this allegory, I believe Jesus gives us reasons as humans why I/you may say no to this invitation
The reasons: A heart not aware of their own fear may simply say no to the invitation; a heart not open to let go of its many fears looks to the securities of what they know: I am too busy doing my own thing or joining others to protect the limited ways I choose to love; some hearts are so closed by deep seated fears that they join others in their fear to kill those doing the inviting. I suggest for the latter group that putting on the wedding garment of love is too scary because that means the veils and the webs that separate us from each other may be destroyed.
Jesus in this parable suggests this wedding banquet will open our minds to create fearless hearts to recognize that the power of love not fear changes our actions to transcend our veils of separation and webs woven to keep nations separate.
When the pandemic began, there was a period when ads were recognizing, and the media was framing, updates of the spread of the virus with the theme “we are all in this together.” Pointing out: No one knows how to stop the spread of the virus, No one is secure from getting it. No one is immune from the impact of this virus. For the first three months everyone was being cautious while medical experts were busy figuring out how to curb the rapid spread until a vaccine could be developed. We were united in our care for one another.
But then cautions began to give way to my right to do my own thing while the World Health Organization efforts for all peoples / nations to be cooperative and collaborative began to be dismissed by some leaders of governments who wanted to follow their own guidelines.
Pope Francis writes in the introduction to his latest encyclical, Fraternity and Social Friendship: “The Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities. Unfortunately, it quickly became evident countries were unable to come together to work together.”
Even though we know all nations were being affected, the pandemic with the issue of climate change gives evidence of how difficult it is for citizens in a country and governments of nations to be consistent in living the caution given by the medical and science experts to resolve problems.
It seems the pattern of human history is when steps are taken to remove the veils that separate us, people/nations bow out of the agreements and begin projecting blame on others.
What does it take to change this pattern from one step forward and two steps backward to a pattern two steps forward and one step backward toward evolving to unity with all creation?
Is the parable of the gospel telling us that when we say “yes” to coming to the feast, we must come with our wedding garment enveloping our brokenness, our sinfulness? We trust that to communal worship of God, we leave with a stronger faith and hope, knowing the cost of “loving” is to love without fear.
Without fear blinding human hearts, and knowing of God’s lavish Love on all peoples, can we in this 21st century hear God’s invitation to cooperate?
I wonder if in this parable Jesus is asking us to focus our greater energies on all who are united by the wedding garment of Love, rather than on destroying the one dressed in the wedding garment of fear.
To do this I believe this Sufi tradition gives us an insight of how easily we can fall into doing what we think is good out of fear rather than out of Love.
It goes like this: A Sufi teacher from the mystical tradition of the Moslem religion spoke to his students about fear: “I can tell you that fear is multidirectional. It certainly seems to be stronger than thirst, or sanity, or other people’s property. And you don’t have to have it in yourself to suffer from it!”
In our Christian tradition Jesus showed us how to stand up to fear, witnessing that you don’t have to be afraid in yourself to suffer from it!
Jesus stood up to the Roman Government and the Jewish Religious leaders with the truth that without Love one has no “power.” It was their fear of losing “power” which led Jesus to his death.
Through his death and resurrection Jesus taught us the reality of Franklin D. Roosevelt words, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
We have said “yes” to come to this wedding banquet of Love.
We have not been able to gather in community in our churches during these days. But I ask you to take time this day, wherever you are, to focus your heart and mind on the Eucharist. Join me in bringing all the ways Love was present in your life this past week as the offering you put on the paten and pour into the chalice.
Let us be of one mind asking to be enlightened to name the fear/fears that prevent me/us from mirroring the abundant love of God in our everyday life.
Let us be united in imagining God’s Love being lavished on each person, God’s love changing a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.
Being united, may we leave with the conviction to act in ways that reflect the wisdom of St. Paul: “I know how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things, I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in God who strengthens me.”