This week was book ended by weddings, one away and one local. The first one was for my cousin’s oldest daughter, a young 20-something-year-old, starting her life with her best friend. Last night’s was a friend, marrying for the first time in her fifth decade, the man who she has loved for many years but who has stood by her these past three years after receiving her diagnosis of cancer at around the same time as mine. Each couple has taken a leap of faith into the unknown. Both weddings were joyous occasions and unlike the Gospel of the day, those invited came with enthusiasm and joy. The King in the Gospel says that those invited were not worthy and tells his slaves to go gather people from the streets to come instead. Gosh, what an ordeal! I cannot imagine the stress for the host.
At each wedding, the guests had great fun. The brides in particular were a delight to watch as they danced and laughed with friends. The dance floors were full and the celebrations seemed jubilant. What happens then at the Gospel wedding? Why are people not into the festivities? Why do the guests not want to come? Why does the host prepare such an extravagant affair only to be rebuffed? We are told that those invited make light of it and abuse the slaves who extend the offer. Further, a stranger appears, dressed inappropriately and is thrown into the darkness by the King. This is a harsh story.
God offers us so much and we are unaware of the blessings that we are to receive many days. We make light of them, turn away, get distracted, show up in the wrong clothes so to speak, and do horrible things to one another. I have been there. Tonight at mass, I felt a great elation at being in my church community. I truly felt like I was home. Several years ago, struggling with what was going on in the parish, that was not the case. About ten minutes after feeling this way, I had a moment of creaturehood, as St. Ignatius would call it–of knowing my sin and wondering why God would bless me anyway. I did not see it coming. All I know is that my eyes filled with tears and the love of God descended upon me in an unexpected way. Maybe that is what the wedding feast is supposed to be like–an understanding that God has blessed us way beyond our dreams and hopes and that we have done nothing that has merited this generosity.
As these two couples begin a life together in a new way, may they know the mercy of God through the most challenging moments of their marriages and the love of God during the grace-filled moments. May they also be supported by those who were invited. May those of us who are invited by God to the great wonderful banquet of life keep our eyes open for the daily feasts that are set out for us and never be distracted.
What was the last wedding you were at like?
What distracts you from celebrating the feast to which you are invited?
Host with the Most, why do we not come running at your invitation? What prevents us from being joyfilled and honoured to receive your summons to come? Change our hearts so that they may be open to all the blessings you want us to receive. May our daily bread be enough and yet, when you lavish us with fatted calves, may we rejoice at this mystery too. Amen.