Readings: Isaiah 25:6-10; Philippians 4:12-14; Matthew 22:1-14
We’ve been wading through some rough parables that past few Sundays and today’s is the roughest of the bunch. Matthew takes a simple parable–you can read it in Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 14:16-24–and complicates it into an allegory.
Why? Matthew is struggling to understand Jesus’ failure with their own people and, a few decades after Jesus’ Resurrection, the destruction of Jerusalem. It was traumatic for any Jew.
I don’t intend to explore Matthew’s allegory–I just point that out to confirm why the details don’t add up logically and strain the consistency of this violent story. All his changes underline in bold print an important message already present in Saint Luke’s simpler version.
The point is this: God reaches out to us whether we are in the pulpit or the pews. But even though God extends a merciful hand to us, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing left for us to do. We actually have to respond and change, conforming to that mercy.
God’s invitation doesn’t turn a blind eye to my peccadilloes. Why? Not to force me to earn God’s approval but because God is offering me the best way to be. What I settle for on my own is simply not good for me. It’s toxic.
Whatever I perceive as my strong points, what I pride myself on, is not good for me. How often do I use it to bludgeon anyone disagreeable? Don’t I act smug in my discipline? Can’t I judge others ruthlessly?
At the other extreme, aren’t I more tolerant with myself than anyone else? Can’t I rationalize away my defects, my negligence, my complacency or irresponsibility? This is all so toxic.
Even if I recognize the Kingdom of Heaven in and through Jesus, I can’t just waltz in on my own terms. I must change, become compatible with the Kingdom, adjust to its particular atmosphere. And I could start now–if I let myself be changed.