In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Well, what a corker of a Gospel, what a corker, how do we start to understand what is being said here? Well, there are, as ever, two ways of approaching our gospel readings there are two ways of approaching any scripture. And the first way is what we call textual analysis. We can take apart the text. We can understand when it was written, who it was written by and who was hearing it.
The second way is to try and understand the message that Jesus is giving us in the here and now. Well, the first part is worthy of Bible study. And in the New Year, when Bible study starts again, this will be one of the first pieces of scripture that we will explore because it’s fascinating. Matthew, of course, the gospel was written somewhere between 60 and 80 A.D. and Matthew is speaking to the Jewish people of the time. It’s why all of Jesus parables in Matthew are very much focused on how to live within the law and how to understand the law through Christ.
He’s speaking to the Jewish people and of course, this very, very hard gospel, particularly verse seven, when he talks about the burning down of buildings and of revenge. That little piece of scripture there is really about the fact that about 70AD, the temple was destroyed and pulled down so the temple in Jerusalem was pulled down. That’s what that’s about. So it’s not a really interesting kind of textual analysis. You can do there it’s very – I find it very, very interesting, but it is quite dry for a sermon.
So we’ll park that will come to it in the new year. So what is it actually saying to us today here and now? Really what’s going on here, is it highlighting to us what happens If you refuse the invitation of Jesus Christ. You’re being invited to a party, you are being invited to something that is joyful, that is loving, that is life in its fullness, that is absolutely bursting with passion. This gospel says to us what happens if you refuse that invitation?
And interestingly, of course, the people who refuse the invitation in our gospel today aren’t going off and refusing the invitation because they’re all going to get drunk and debauched and run off and do dreadful things. They’re refusing the invitation to go to their businesses. To go and do those everyday things, it’s perfectly reasonable, and when you understand that this is wedding feasts worked, then what would happen is they would say, right, there’s going to be wedding, it’s going to be brilliant, there’s going to be a party and you’re all invited and they’ll get everything ready.
And then when everything is ready, then they send the servants out. And it might be, of course, that when the servants arrive at your door, actually, it’s not really convenient for me to come to the party right now. I’ve got to look after my business. And that’s the same for us today, that invitation is still the same. We all know that we are invited to the great party. We all know that we are invited to be Christians together in this life, not to not to be drab, not to be miserable, not to be saying you can’t do this, you can’t do that, not to be that, but to be joyful and full of life and living the life that God has given us.
But so often when the invitation comes to live out that life in the real world. Other things come up before us. Well, actually, I just need to go and do this. That’s that’s more important right now. Or I could go to morning prayer this morning. But you know what? I really need to go get milk from Iceland. Or I could go to Rosary on Wednesday night, but actually Britain’s Got Talent, on. There’s always a reason not to take part in our Christian life, and that’s not just about coming to church.
It’s not just about being here and doing those things in church. It’s also about those invitations that God puts in front of us every day in different ways. So, you know, I’ve been I have been particularly taken with the plight of those most in need in Hayes on the streets. Well, there’s an invitation that God puts in front of us when we walk past homeless people in the street in Hayes. How do we react to that invitation? Do we put that invitation aside?
Because actually we do need to go to the bank and pay that checking, or do we accept that invitation from God to live out our Christian life in all of its fullness and passion and love and joy? And listen, that doesn’t mean that you have to stand there and give that person money, give that person food, give that person anything that you necessarily think they need, right now – we are doing that. What it means is smiling at that person in the street.
It means asking them what their name is and calling them by it, it means telling them that you love them. That’s the invitation that God is putting in front of us all of the time, our daily life is full of invitations to come to the wedding banquet, and we have to be alive to those invitations and we have to try and understand how we respond to each of those invitations. And listen and this is me here saying this is what you have to do, this is me saying be open to what it is God wants you to do in those invitations and the way you find out what it is that you should do, what God wants you to do in that invitation is through prayer, is through coming together and receiving the body of Jesus Christ in the sacrament. Because when he inhabits you, when you let him inhabit your heart, you’re in a better place to respond to those invitations each and every day. And as I was reading this gospel and I was thinking about what it meant, the thing that kept coming to my mind is this is an invitation to live your life in full color rather than in black and white.
This is an invitation to live your life in the fullness of God’s created world, in the fullness of God’s love, in the passion and the joy of what he has given us. It is an invitation to live life in color. We’re not called to be joyless, we’re not called to be stuck up, to be restricted, to be loveless, to tell people what it is they should and should not be doing. But to be full of the love of Christ and to share it every single time that invitation comes before us.
It’s an appeal. It’s a call from Christ to live out in every single thing that we do every single day, the joy of the wedding feast. Amen.