28 Sunday in Ordinary Time A
We Laughed, We Cried
At that time Jesus began to speak in parables once again to the chief priests and elders of the people: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son's wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come.
Next he sent some more servants, 'Tell those who have been invited' he said 'that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.' But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He dispatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town.
Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.' So these servants went out on the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Can you remember times in your life when you were on your own; then you came into the company of one person or of several people – and you were the better for it? If you are married you will remember when you were single; at that time you may have been free to come and go as you pleased. But once you were married you had to take into account the needs and the wishes of another. If you had children, there were many more demands to be met. For all that this may have cost, you are likely to look back and to say, “It was better than remaining on my own.”
In the shadow of one another
You will recall other ways in which you were taken out of isolation and into the company of others. You may have joined a group or a club or a team: a sports club, a football team, a choir or musical society; you began to play Bingo or Bridge. Or you may have given your time in the service of others in the St. Vincent De Paul Society, the Legion of Mary or the Samaritans. You may have given and received support from others in a group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous. You may have joined no organization but you helped out neighbours and friends and sometimes strangers without any fuss. To earn a living you may have had to work side by side with a number of people and had to deal with many others. You know from experience the truth of the Irish saying, “It is in the shadow of one another that the people live.”
It is not always easy to leave our own little world and share our lives with others. We may feel more at ease and comfortable on our own. If we get involved with other people it will take up our time, use up our energy and may cost us money. This is how it was in the Gospel story. The King sent out the invitations to his son’s wedding, assuming that the guests would be pleased to be invited and glad to come. But they were not interested, and some even attacked the messengers who brought the invitation. They were busy about their own lives, and they wanted to be left alone.
Life is a feast to be shared
Jesus is describing in this story his vision for the whole world: it is a world where all recognize that they are children of a loving God, and life is a feast to be shared and enjoyed with all their sisters and brothers. How slow we are to believe this and how reluctant to try it out in practice! For many years now the World Trade Organization has tried to sort out trading problems between the countries of the world. In Geneva in the summer of 2008, intensive talks over several days, failed to produce an agreement. We were conscious of these talks in Ireland because the proposals were seen as a threat to our beef industry. It was a sad day for farmers in the poorer countries of the world when the talks collapsed.
The National Catholic Reporter in the United States made this comment on the failure of the talks, “Increasingly, it looks like this failure, this chance to bridge, even partially, the gap between rich and poor, and between rich nation and poor nation, is taking us -- all of us -- down together.” This echoes the words of Pope Paul VI in 1967: “If today’s flourishing civilizations remain selfishly wrapped up in themselves, they could easily place their highest values in jeopardy. Their continued greed will certainly call down on them the judgment of God and the wrath of the poor with consequences no one can foretell.”
Compare this selfishness with the generosity of 1,380 volunteers who travelled from Ireland to South Africa in November 2007. It was the biggest number of volunteers ever to leave the island of Ireland for a single project. The Niall Mellon Township Trust organized the event. Every volunteer raised 4,000 euros beforehand. In one week they built 203 houses. On the building site they worked hard and had a lot of fun, but more importantly they met and changed the lives of some of the poorest people in the world. Looking back on the trip two of the participants, Carol and Seamus, summed up their experience: