Homily 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 15th October 2023
Today’s first reading and Gospel contains a wealth of meaning. The image of the Kingdom of God as a meal. The people of that time still held very intensely to the notion of a meal as a drama, a document, in which the whole of their lives, the quality of their lives was acted out, expressed, and affirmed.
The feast celebrated on the mountain in Isaiah, the wedding feast in the Gospels, in a word, a meal done well, experienced rightly, all of that is life as God intended it to be, life done well, acted out rightly.
When life is right, when it is marked by right understanding, right relationships, the meal is right. But when that is not the case, when righteousness fails, the meal is disrupted, the document distorted.
The verses in Isaiah just prior to this reading speak to the corruption of the covenant, the infidelity of the people. And Isaiah describes it as a hunger in the people. He says, “In the streets they cry out for lack of wine…”
The almost harsh sounding imagery of the guest who is thrown out in the Gospel because he would not dress properly strikes the same note. The issue is not proper dress, the issue is the disruption of the need, the refusing to do it right, refusing to accept the right relationship between himself and the host, and to do so on the host’s terms. Perhaps that is really the heart of the imagery. Do we come to the meal on our own terms or on those of the host? Do we write the document that expresses our lives, or does God?
This imagery could be pursued for a long time. It is a rich one, both in scripture and in human experience. But there is a disturbing side to doing so. If something very ancient and very deep within us makes of a meal, a document that speaks of the quality of our lives, what is being said by what our culture makes of meals?
The speed of them, the superficiality? How many families do we know that eat together, all together, sometime, some place, more than perhaps once a week?
What is added to the document of our lives by the fact that we spend more on remedies for indigestion than many nations spend on food?
The invitation to the banquet that is given to us, is an invitation to nothing less that life itself, life as God means it to be. And that, if done rightly, is a thing to celebrate.