Today’s readings speak of redemption, a return of exiled or separated ones to God and the land where God dwells. There is a visceral connection between land and identity and relationship with God, reminiscent of Eden. In Ezekiel, God vows to cleanse and purify the people, and in doing so, replace their hardened hearts with ones capable of love and compassion.
In today’s gospel, Jesus alludes to God’s relationship with the Israelites through the parable of the wedding feast. The chosen race, the firstborn among the nations, is exclusively sought out by Jesus early in his ministry (remember the Canaanite woman from Mt 15: Jesus tells her ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’). But! Just as the Canaanite woman’s faith stretched Jesus’ own perception of his mission and ministry, the king in the parable of the wedding feast originally invites a select group, but expands his vision when those initially invited reject the invitation. Ultimately, all are invited, good and bad alike. As Gentiles, we are those last on the guest list. But we’re invited! And we need to put on our wedding garments. As a child, I was always troubled by the end of this parable, in which the poorly dressed man was thrown out into the night. Taking a step back from a literal reading, however, sheds a very different light. Of course God cares for the materially poor. But am I properly clothed with faith, trust in God, prayer, and good works? We have been invited, but it is up to us to respond and allow God to transform us and through us, the world.
- Moira Reilly (PVI-Jamaica ’06-’07) is a caretaker at Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community in Appalachia. We invite volunteers to join us in living the Gospel cornerstones of prayer, community, service, and simplicity. www.bethlehemfarm.net