“I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Phil 4:12-13
This Sunday is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here. The themes relate to the great wedding feast that God invites us to. The initial guests are so attached to their daily lives that they ignore the the gift that God is offering them. I have this to be so true in my own life. During the early part of my adulthood, I was so focused on my career and external “success” that I completely neglected the wondrous gifts that God has given me. The guests in the Gospel parable contrasts with the second reading where he so eloquently talks about detachment (quoted above). Detachment is a foundation of Ignatian spirituality. If we are detached from the chains of worldly outcomes: whether it be wealth or poverty, health or sickness, or anything else, we are more free to love God and our neighbor.
“The vision of Isaiah is the vision of a God who wants good things for all people. In a world of poverty and injustice, Isaiah paints a vision of a God who provides for everyone generously. In a world of nationalism and ethnic & racial division, Isaiah paints a vision of a God who destroys the veil/web that covers over and divides all people. In a world in which people are focused on money and the problems of the economy, Isaiah talks about discovering a God who saves us – a God with a liberating set of values. In a world which continues to see so many tears and so much injustice, Isaiah paints the vision of a God who wants to wipe away those tears and bring us together in a new way.
This vision is repeated in Jesus’ story of the wedding feast. What God wants is a great wedding feast – a feast that is open to all. God is unhappy when folks don’t accept the invitation. “The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.” The vision is expressed in what we call today the “option for the poor.” The vision is made concrete whenever we work to include those on the outside – those without power – minorities, women, immigrants, refugees, the elderly, the sick, those who don’t fit our expectations and priorities.
In our fast paced and busy world, the story of Jesus reminds us of what can prevent us from sharing in the vision of Jesus. We get too busy with other things. We miss the invitation. Instead of taking advantage of the feast, we end up going our own way to buy a farm or manage a business. We become preoccupied with money or possessions. We can get separated from the vision of Jesus; we can miss out on the great wedding feast. We can be distracted by the various ideologies of our culture – consumerism, discrimination, militarism, sexism, racism, fear, isolation, rugged individualism, nationalism, etc. We can be distracted by wealth or financial security or entertainment or prestige.”