Saturday, October 11, 2014

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 28 OT, Oct. 12, 2014, Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Today’s Gospel story appears in at least three different versions—
in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew
and in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.
Just like he did with last week’s story,
Matthew takes Jesus’ original parable
and turns it into a Christianized allegory
for the way God deals with people,
an allegory that addresses
the specific concerns of Matthew’s own community.
The scholars of the Jesus Seminar comment
that Matthew’s editing of this story
puts it out of touch with what Jesus said and did.
In short, Matthew makes the dinner party into a wedding feast
and the host into a king,
then extends the allegory to teach lessons about the people
who were leaving the early Christian community.
Matthew’s “kingdom of heaven” is ruled by a vindictive king
who not only kills the murderers but burns their town.
Then the king ferrets out a guest who isn’t dressed properly,
and kicks him out.
Jesus does not see God in that way.
He says God’s right here—
“the reign of God is among us,” as the original Aramaic reads.
So this story as Jesus tells it has two characteristics pieces:
• Exaggeration in the last-minute refusal
of every one of the invited guests.
• Reversal of social convention
in the gathering of people off the streets to fill the banquet hall.
The parable upsets the applecart for his listeners.
It tells the religious leaders
that they are choosing to stay away from God’s banquet
and that God will fill their places
with people who are eager to be at the feast.
Who is at this feast?
The banquet image in the Old Testament
stands as a sign of God’s unlimited love,
and Isaiah makes it clear that all are welcome
when he writes that God will prepare
this banquet of rich food and fine wines
for all peoples.
There’s always enough food on the banquet table in God’s house.
As Paul says, God is lavish in providing for everyone.
There’s more than enough.
Down at Claver House the volunteers
serve up a banquet of donated food every weekday morning—
cereal, fruit, toast and jelly, doughnuts,
coffee and milk and juice; fruits and vegetables,
soup and casseroles and salads and desserts.
There’s a place at the table and plenty of food
for anyone who walks in the door.
Last Tuesday a new guest walked into Claver House—
let’s call him Jerry.
Youngish (well, younger than me), not too shabbily dressed, clean.
New in town, he said, just in from Florida
and hoping for snow so he could work like last winter,
when he went door to door and shoveled snow.
And then Ms. Agnes came in,
coughing and fighting for breath,
staying just long enough
to get a container of soup to take home with her
so she could get back on the oxygen.
Then Ronald, looking tired and a bit scroungy,
with a battered piece of luggage on wheels
that carried everything he owns.
All are welcome!
Tent City is setting up downtown at the end of this month,
a veritable jamboree of services and winter coats and meals.
All are welcome!
Thanksgiving’s just a few weeks away, our national holiday.
The food pantries around town
are taking down the names of families
so they can deliver all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner.
Everyone’s invited to the table.
For people without family in town,
or without a kitchen to cook in,
the people of Christ the King Church
are putting together, as they do every year,
a giant Thanksgiving banquet—
all are welcome.
In terms of volunteer hours,
Toledo is the second most compassionate city in the world;
only Seattle ranked higher in this year’s Compassion Games.
Lavish generosity!
Total welcome!
Just like Jesus.
There’s no record of his ever kicking anybody off the mountain.
He told people that the kin-dom of God is at hand.
He tells us the same thing.
We, right here, right now—
whenever we are welcoming,
whenever we invite everyone to the table—
are helping to make it happen.
Glory be to God, it’s good to be here!

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

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