The king who invites becomes the king who destroys. This man, the king, is the worst kind of brutal dictator, who would dare to fill a banquet hall by using lethal force and terror; a king who, if you cross him, will kill, terrorizing the next person into not crossing him.
Think of the HERODS of our day, the many dictators that have been in the news in recent years, who have behaved in similar ways to the king in our parable.
Matthew, however, tags on additional parable: (NOT PRESENT IN THE GOSPEL OF LUKE OR THOMAS) ---the parable of the guest without the proper wedding garment. This guest is cast away for refusing to follow the customs of the rich and powerful. He becomes the victim – the scapegoat.
The lone figure refuses to celebrate a banquet that is shrouded in violence of the dominant culture; he is cast into the outer darkness, (like Jesus, at Golgotha) the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This guest appears to intentionally, yet silently, confront this king’s brutality. This is not the king who dishes out the violence, but rather the guest who at the end takes it upon himself ---- the Christ figure –
The man without the wedding garment was silent before the king. He discovers a similar fate as did Christ. In Matthew’s Gospel, Christ was silent before his judge. In the face of the earthly authority based on violence, Jesus stood silent in the face of his accusers and allowed himself to be bound to a cross.
JESUS WAS TROUBLE: ---- TROUBLE FOR THE RELIGIOUS ELITE-- TROUBLE FOR THE RELIGIOUS AUTHORITIES-- TROUBLE FOR THE WAR-MAKING ROMAN EMPIRE.
The gospel parable is asking us this question: “For what do we really stand? How much do we really care about the injustice we see around us?”
Our guest stands alone and by his silence says: I cannot wed myself to a culture of those who make this their creed:
Blessed are the rich; the reign of the world is theirs.
Blessed are those who cause others to mourn and to grieve.
Blessed are those who are violent, proud, arrogant.
Blessed are the powerful who dominate others and who oppress the poor.
Blessed are those who ignore injustice and benefit from the sufferings of the poor.
Blessed are those who play it safe, and secure, who do not get involved in the struggles for social change.
Blessed are those who remain silent, and turn a deaf ear to the struggles of their neighbors.
As a nine year old child, Alice Gahana accompanied her parents when they were summoned to the village square. After surviving two concentration camps, Alice was asked what she remembered most from her horrific experience.”
EMPTY WINDOWS, was her reply “ I walked that morning carrying my suitcase, down our cobble-stoned street, by the houses in which people lived that I had known all my life. But the windows were empty – that’s what I remembered – the empty windows. My friends and neighbors knew what was happening. They knew – but they were afraid. They didn’t want to get involved. Nobody came to the windows to see what was happening to me.”
God sends us, you and me, right into our own community, to call for justice for the poor and to denounce injustice whenever and wherever we see it.
We hear again the words in our Isaiah passage this morning:
For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress” (AN EXAMPLE OF OUR OWN CASA SAN MIGUEL)
Sometimes it might mean standing alone – But ALWAYS it calls us to go to the windows and see what is happening to our neighbors!!!! Remember those in our day who had the courage to stand against injustice – Those who were willing to serve not counting the cost.
Dorothy Day Founder of Catholic Worker Community who chose to tand with the poor.
Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who chose to walk among the disenfranchised; denounced the death-squad government that eventually shot him while he celebrated Mass.
Martin Luther King, Jr. who demanded equality and civil rights for all people, and economic justice for the poor.
Mahandas Gandhi who resisted racism in South Africa, rebelled against British imperialism in India, and sent out a call to practice non violence.
And of course, Anng San Suu Kyi recently released from house arrest in Myanmar, (formerly Burma) as well as the three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this week (one from Yemen, and two from Liberia – all who fought for human rights)
At a different kind of banquet, Jesus stands alone on the shore after the resurrection. He calls out to his fishing buddies, and tells them where to throw their nets.
When they recognize him he says “COME, HAVE BREAKFAST.”
Jesus is serving breakfast to the very ones who had abandoned him only a few days earlier. What a different picture than the king in our gospel story.
Who can resist Christ’s intimate love, his willingness to stand alone, his refusal to participate in a culture that ignores the call to peace and justice, and his willingness to serve everyone regardless of their station in life!
We can finish breakfast with the Risen Christ and set off on our journey of justice and peace, remembering to look out our windows – and to willingly get involved!