Let's Get this Party Started: Blogging the Lectionary

This Sunday's lectionary readings are:
Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

The gospel is another parable about the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus is sharing in the temple. It's the wedding feast for the king's son. Invitations go out and are ignored, or excuses are made, or the messengers are even killed. The king does some killing right back, and invites anyone his slaves can find in the streets, those who wouldn't normally get invitations, to the wedding feast instead. Then this poor guy shows up, without a wedding robe and is cast into the outermost darkness as a result.

And I'm thinking, geeze, God, have a heart. It's not like he had time to go buy something to wear.

I really dislike this gospel, not just because it seems so damn unfair, but because it has resulted in some pretty huge atrocities against Jews. Christians do love to take things out of context. It's very judgemental, and seems to be focused on who gets in and who doesn't.

So what does one do when one doesn't like a gospel reading? Dig deeper.

According to the Jewish Annotated New Testament (a great resource for the mindset at the time), clothing often represented righteousness in the New Testament. OK, so that tells me we shouldn't be taking this quite so literally. Plus, the gospel points out it's a parable, which means it's a way of telling a deeper truth about the kingdom of God.

But is the deeper truth God slam dunking unprepared guests who arrive at the kingdom of God?

No. The deeper truth is not about what God does, but about what we do in response to God's invitation. I can't be alone in making my excuses not to participate in God's kingdom, or of choosing the busyness of work (or Pinterest) instead of enjoying the presence of God.

And "enjoying" is the key here.

This man without a wedding robe has turned up, but is not rejoicing in the wedding banquet.  As it says in Sunday's selection of Philippians:
"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone." (Philippians 4:4-5)
The no-wedding-robe guy has arrived, but is not participating in the kingdom of God. He's not even happy to be there. In a sense, he's already in outer darkness.

The invitation to God's kingdom is extended to us all. Our response is to show up and rejoice in the Lord's presence.

Comments

  1. I have the same issue with this piece aka the anti-Semitism. My seminary husband tells me that this issue is actually we Gentiles reading into it our own preconceived ideas. Matthew was writing to fellow Jews, so this was really more like an inter-family dispute. We don't say it's anti-Christian if a Baptist says something bad about a Methodist, for instance. I have heard many sermons that tend towards anti-Semitism based on this and other Gospel passages.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I don't know how -- but we Christians keep forgetting that Jesus is Jewish and so were many of his early followers.

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