28 Sunday - A Wedding Feast

-3 Parables of preparation of the soil and finding the treasure of the harvest, the fruit of the earth with human hands.
-Then brought by a little in 5 loaves for the blessing and breaking and distributing. The fruit of our labour and the attitude within the heart of our soils. For the celebration, for sharing.
- 3 Parables of the Vineyard: we come first as servants and labourers, then as family and then the vineyard is entrusted to us.
- These 2 sets make the banquet: bread and wine. Eucharist, Heaven.

Tony Kayala, c.s.c.
Post-World War II Banquet:

At the end of World War II, the Russian head-of-state gave an elaborate banquet to honor the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  The Russians arrived in their best formal wear -- military dress uniforms -- but their honored guest did not.  Churchill arrived wearing his famous zipper coveralls that he had worn during the German bomb attack in London.  He thought it would provide a nostalgic touch the Russians would appreciate.  They didn’t.  They were humiliated and insulted that their prominent guest-of-honor had not considered their banquet worthy of his best clothes.  Wearing the right clothing to a formal dinner honors the host and the occasion; neglecting to wear the right clothing is an insult.  Weddings were such an important occasion in Palestine in Christ’s days that people were expected to wear the proper clothing to show appreciation and respect for the invitation.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus demands the wedding garment of righteousness from his followers. (Fr. Tony Kadavil)
Sunday Mass with helium balloons?

At a church conference in Omaha, people were given helium-filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt joy in their hearts. All through the service worshippers kept releasing balloons. At the end of the service it was discovered that most of them still had their balloons unreleased. If this experiment were repeated in our church today, how many of us would still have our balloons unreleased at the end of the Mass? Many of us think of God's House as a place for seriousness, a place to close one's eyes and pray, but not a place of celebration, a place of joye. The parable of the Great Supper in today's Gospel paints a different picture. The Christian assembly is a gathering of those who are called to the Lord's party. In the Eucharist we say of ourselves, "Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb." The Lord invites us to a supper, a banquet, a feast. Can you imagine a wedding feast in which everyone sits stone-faced, cold and quiet? (Fr. Munachi Ezeogu, cssp) 

Perhaps you have heard of the family that moved into the neighborhood and the little country church decided to reach out to the family. When they arrived at the doorstep the members of the church were surprised to find that the family had 12 kids and were for the most part poor. They invited the family to services and said goodbye. Later that week the church responded to their need. They delivered a package to the family and said, "We want you to know that you and your entire family are welcome at our church anytime. We have bought you these gifts and we want you to feel comfortable and at ease in our congregation. We hope you can use these," and they left. The family opened the package to find 14 suits of clothing, beautiful clothes for every member of the family. Sunday came and the congregation waited for the family, and they waited. The family never showed. Wondering what could have possibly happened, after lunch the members of the church returned to the home and found the family just getting back, all dressed in their new clothes.

"We don't mean to be nosey but we would like to know what happened. We had hoped to see you this morning in church," the leader of the church inquired. 

The father spoke up. He said, "Well, we got up this morning intending to come. And we sure do appreciate your invitation. But after we showered, shaved, and dressed, why we looked so proper we went to the Episcopal Church."
That's a funny way of talking about a serious problem. Invitations are sent to many to come to church but so few people respond. It's frustrating. Many of you have reached out to neighbors or friends and asked them to come to church and you know all too well the disappointment, how few respond.
Maybe that is why we find this morning's parable so familiar...
After World War II the world entered a grey combat zone known as the "Cold War." The two most powerful nations on earth, the US and the USSR, stood face to face, toe to toe, and seriously considered nuking each other. Thousands of nuclear warheads were armed and aimed by both nations, targeting each other's homelands, in a strategy known by the acronym MAD: Mutual Assured Destruction. President Truman even had to fire General Douglas MacArthur because of his insistence that we use nuclear weapons against the Chinese during the Korean war. Key players in the nuclear drama carried endearing names like "Gadget" (1st atom bomb-1945), "Fat Man" (Nagasaki-1945), "Little Boy" (Hiroshima-1945), "George" (1951), "Mike" (1952). But there was anything endearing about these weapons. Clearly this was madness. 

Even madder was the "official" response to this "Cold War" freezer burn. "Fall out shelters," both public and private, were constructed, places where people could momentarily be "safe" while the surface of the earth was scorched from radiation. School children were instructed to dive under their plywood desks and cover their heads in what were called "duck-under-the-desk" drills in order to "survive" a nuclear bomb attack. "Duck and Cover" was the 1950's and 60's version of "Dumb and Dumber." 

It was during this "Cold War" freeze that a smart-alecky, satirical magazine was born. It wasn't some well-heeled, upper-crust publication, financed by any special "lobbyist" group. It was "MAD magazine." A comic book. But a well-written comic critique of the craziness that was driving countries "MAD." 

MAD magazine dared to lampoon the possibility of global annihilation. Written for a 10-100 year old audience, in its pre-internet heyday MAD magazine was the place to peel back the looniness and manipulation of the times and to challenge its very young readers to consider everything they encountered with fresh eyes. 

Oh, the magazine was also fun as well as funny...  

 Church: The Only Thing in Town That Has Not Changed 

It is instructive to drive through ritzy developments - or what David Brooks once called "sprinkler cities" - and notice that everything a person could possibly want was thought of by the real estate developers. This can be seen in lots of places, including certain sections of northern Michigan along the Lake Michigan coast, an area that has recently seen an explosion of multi-million dollar homes on the choicest lakefront lots. As that area has seen a sharp spike in wealthy residents, lots of things expanded accordingly. Malls needed to be built or upgraded, more movie screens and golf courses were required, lush horse stables were erected, world-class restaurants opened and flourished, and even supermarkets needed to add gourmet sections so that all the ingredients for truly high-end cooking could be found.

About the only thing in this town that did not change was worship space. Despite a huge influx of new residents, somehow or another the same old white clapboard country church that has been there for years continues to suffice. Curious, isn't it? But for those busy making a life in this world it is often the case. So also in this parable such folks received the king's engraved invitation and responded, "Sounds great but I really need to keep an eye on the market today. Can I get a rain check?"
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations

 All Night Long . . . 

Some years ago, a friend of mine from church pulled me out into the parking lot to listen to a tape in her car. Darlene Malmo wanted me to hear her favorite Lionel Ritchie song. There was this song about life being like a party, "all night long." She said, "I am going to party all night long with God." That is what being a Christian is.

Some Christian say that it is not right to have such a mood of happiness and joy. Especially when there is so much starvation. When there is so much hunger. When there is so much suffering in the world, it is not right to be happy. 

But that is not true. I think of the hymn, "This Is My Father's World" and the great words to that hymn. "This is my father's world, o let me ne'ver forget. That though the wrong be oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my father's world, o let my heart by glad, for the Lord is king, let the heavens ring. God reigns, let the earth be glad." 

Yes, in this world there is so much suffering and so much starvation, but it is also a banquet. Joy, in the middle of suffering, is at the core of being a Christian.

Edward F. Markquart, Excuses to Avoid a Wedding
 Clothing and Spiritual Change

Clothing is a common New Testament metaphor for spiritual change. Paul wrote in Romans, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Rom 13:14).

And in First Corinthians, "The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:53).
In Colossians, we read, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12).

Finally, in First Peter we are admonished, "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'" (1 Peter 5:5).

Being clothed anew is a consistent New Testament expression for holiness and righteousness. The old clothes have to come off and new ones put on.

This text confronts us with the paradox of God's free invitation to the banquet with no strings attached and God's requirement of "putting on" something appropriate to that calling. The theological point is that we are warned of the dire consequences of accepting the invitation and doing nothing except showing up.

Mickey Anders, When Showing Up Isn't Enough
Prayers Should Prepare Us 

Reinhold Niebuhr often quoted a remark made to him by an agnostic friend who objected to the church, "not because of its dogmas but because of its trivialities," by which he meant "preoccupation with trivial concerns with the world hanging on the rim of disaster." Fred Craddock was invited to attend a prayer meeting at a home in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta. He said the group shared "weighty" prayer concerns like a date coming up on Friday night and the purchase of a new car, and one man announced they had had 75 answered prayers since the group started meeting. Then one of them turned to him and asked, "What do you think, Dr. Craddock?" Craddock, usually more reticent to criticize anybody's praying, was offended by the superficial and mechanistic reduction of Israel's God to what Paul Tillich called, "the Cosmic Bellhop." He couldn't help himself. He said, "Do you mean to tell me when people are starving in Africa and the poor are suffering in India and parents in Latin America can't sleep through the night wondering if the death squads will visit them, you folks are praying about dates and new cars?" 

Larry Bethune, Friends in High Places
Humor: No, I'm Just Seasick

The writer Bill Henderson recalls meeting a man aboard a cruise ship who claimed to be an expert in guessing professions. "See that man over there," he said. "He is a physician." Bill checked and sure enough that was right. "How could you tell?" he asked the man. "Well," he said, "I saw the caring lines on his forehead and could tell he was a person of great compassion." Bill Henderson pointed to someone else and said, "What about him? What does he do?" "That's a lawyer," the expert said. Bill checked and sure enough, he was. The expert explained that the man had a scholarly look and was somewhat formal, indicating an attorney. Then Bill pointed to another man. The expert studied him and said, "That's a preacher." Bill
approached the man and asked, "Are you a preacher?" "No," said the man. "I'm just seasick; that's the reason I look so sad." 

How strange that many Christians have a long-faced reputation. Jesus could not have been that way; if he had been, children would not have clung to him so readily.

Bill Bouknight, Collected Sermons,
Our Hope, Our Terror 

Several summers ago I spent three days on a barrier island where loggerhead turtles were laying their eggs. One night while the tide was out, I watched a huge female heave herself up on the beach to dig her nest and empty her eggs into it. Afraid of disturbing her, I left before she had finished. The next morning I returned to see if I could find the spot where her eggs lay hidden in the sand. What I found were her tracks leading in the wrong direction. Instead of heading back out to sea, she had wandered into the dunes, which were already as hot as asphalt in the morning sun. 

A little ways inland I found her: Exhausted, all but baked, her head and flippers caked with dried sand. After pouring water on her and covering her with sea oats, I fetched a park ranger who returned with a jeep to rescue her. He flipped her on her back, wrapped tire chains around her front legs, and hooked the chains to a trailer hitch on his jeep. Then I watched horrified as he took off, yanking her body forward so that her mouth filled with sand and her neck bent so far back I thought it would break.

 The ranger hauled her over the dunes and down onto the beach. At the ocean's edge, he unhooked her and turned her right side up. She lay motionless in the surf as the water lapped at her body, washing the sand from her eyes and making her skin shine again. A wave broke over her; she lifted her head slightly, moving her back legs. Other waves brought her further back to life until one of them made her light enough to find a foothold and push off, back into the ocean. Watching her swim slowly away and remembering her nightmare ride through the dunes, I reflected that it is sometimes hard to tell whether you are being killed or saved by the hands that turn your life upside down. 

Our hope, through all our own terrors, is that we are being saved. But this does not mean we lie down before the terrors. For as long as we have strength to fight, it is both our nature and our privilege to do so. Sometimes God's blessing does not come until daybreak, after a full night of emptying ourselves and wandering in the wrong direction. Our job is to struggle with the terrors, neither surrendering nor stealing away until they have yielded their blessings. 

Barbara Brown Taylor, The Other Side - Tales of Terror, Times of Wonder
Living in God

In A Journey with the Saints, Thomas S. Kepler has written: "The secret of the revolution in the lives of the saints lies in the fact that their lives are centered in God. They never seem hurried, they have a large leisure, they trouble little about their influence; they refer the smallest things to God. They live in God." That is the great secret to successful living: the realization that when one reserves time to come to God's banquet, all of the rest of life will fall in place.

Adapted from Thomas S. Kepler
 If We Miss a Deadline

A tough, old cowhand sauntered into a saloon and began drinking whiskey by the bottle. The more he drank, the more unruly he became, shooting holes in the ceiling and floor. Everybody was afraid to take on the old cowhand. Finally, a short, mild-mannered storekeeper walked up to the unruly cowhand and said, "I'll give you five minutes to get out of town." The old cowhand holstered his gun, pushed the whiskey bottle away, briskly walked out, got on his horse, and rode out of town. When he left, someone asked the storekeeper what he would have done if the unruly cowhand had refused to go. "I'd have extended the deadline," he said.
Many Christians have that concept of God: if we miss a deadline, God will simply extend it. They do not take the judgment of God seriously... 

 From Father James Gilhooley:  

Cannibals in New Guinea invited a priest to visit under a truce. They had heard about Jesus. They wanted to see what influence He had on his life. The priest was gloomy. He never smiled. They decided to forget about Christ. They concluded that once the truce was over, they would not eat the priest. His tough hide would cause them heartburn. Hilaire Belloc wrote: "Wherever the Catholic sun does shine, there is always laughter and good red wine." Would Belloc say that about us? We are told it takes seventeen face muscles to smile but forty-three to frown. Laughter is the only tranquilizer yet developed that has no side effects. Our expression is the most important garment we wear. Yet, how many of us know fellow-Christians who never smile?