Many people are not comfortable with this parable Jesus tells as recorded by Matthew 22.15-22. Especially if they actually listened to it and reflected upon it. Our own memories are not as good as those who first heard Jesus telling the parable (I would even challenge you to remember last week’s parable Jesus told us through the Gospel)!
Previously the Lord told us a parable about a landowner of a vineyard leasing his land out to tenants who end up killing his son who arrived on the scene to collect the harvest. It doesn’t take a scholar to figure out that Jesus was talking about himself and our own selfishness by robbing God of his rightful place after all he does for us.
Now, Jesus tells us a parable about a king throwing a great wedding reception for his son, inviting us to it, but we’re not interested. He then invites public and notorious sinners, drop outs and anyone we have a tendency to marginalize or forget about.
We can often be tempted to think of Jesus simply opening up the great hall for everyone to simply come and go - that God loves us just the way we are. The truth is he doesn’t. The only ones God loves just the way they are, are those who are with him in heaven. This is not heaven. Even though he still loves us, he doesn't love us as we are right now.
When the sick came to him, Jesus did not say “You are fine, just the way you are”. He healed them. When sinners and extortionists came to him, he did not say “You’re okay as you are”. His love met them where they were, but his love refused to leave them “as” they were. It’s a bit like being a parent. You love your children but you don’t want them to remain children or adolescents. Instead God wants us to learn that every action and moral choice we make, has consequences… consequences that and even ripple out affecting other people’s lives.
Yes, we arrive at God’s open invitation banquet as sinners. And we are given an opportunity to wear a new type of garment. Think of it as bandages God can place carefully and tenderly around us, that promotes healing of mind, body and soul. The healing power of God’s mercy and forgiveness is that he wants to heal and restore us. And if we, likewise want that healing, you have to stop picking at your wounds. Unfortunately, some of us do exactly that, picking at our own wounds and not allowing them to heal. The worst is when such a person, in their own pain and anger, starts trying to pull the bandages off others.
There is no place for recklessness at God’s wedding banquet, let alone, even secretly, or anywhere in our own lives. That is why some of us, even though we may go through all the motions, do not experience healing in our own lives - our pride gets in the way of having to wear a bandage over our wounds, even though the fabric has been woven out of God’s love and mercy!
Christ is the doctor of our bodies and souls. And as such, his love of you and me is clearly written out in the prescription of what we believe as proclaimed now in the Creed - the forgiveness of sins, our eventual resurrection from the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2020