Sunday, October 4, 2015

1st Michaelmas 2015, 'Married to Amazement'

1st Michaelmas

Matthew 22, 1-14

And Jesus continued to speak in parables to them:
The kingdom of the heavens arising in human hearts is like a man, a king, who prepared a marriage feast for his son. And he sent out his servants to call the guests who had been invited to the marriage, but they would not come.

Then he again sent out other servants, and said, “Say to those who have been invited, ‘Think, I have prepared my best for the banquet, the sacrificial oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered; everything is ready. Come quickly to the wedding.”

The Great Banquet, artist unknown
But they were not interested and went off, one going to his field to be his own master, another falling into the hectic pace of his own business. The rest however took hold of the servants, mistreated them and killed them.
Then the king grew angry; he sent out his army, brought the murderers to their destruction and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, “Although the marriage feast is prepared, the invited guests have proved themselves unworthy. Go out therefore to the crossroads of destiny and invite to the wedding whoever you can find.”

And the servants went into the streets and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Then the king came in to see the guests, and among them he noticed a man who was not dressed in the wedding garment that was offered to him. And he said to him, “My friend, you are sharing the meal; how is it you came in here without putting on the wedding garment that was offered to you?”

But the man was speechless.

Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him out into the darkness, where human beings wail and gnash their teeth. For the call goes out to many, yet only a few make themselves bearers of the higher life.”

1st Michaelmas
Sept 29, Oct 4, 2015
Matthew 22, 1-14

A wedding is an occasion for joy. The whole community rejoices when a couple finds their way to each other on earth. For indeed their union is a symbol for the work that each of us is meant to do inwardly.

Corina Ferraz, The Lord's Table of the Third Millenium
Like the partners in a couple, we each of us have two contrasting capacities. Individually we have a kind of willpower that is like an arrow – actively and unswervingly headed toward a goal. This kind of will has a masculine quality. We also have a will that is more like a vessel – open, able to receive, to bear and to let go. This kind of softer will has a more feminine quality.

It is our human task, both as a couple, and as an individual, to integrate and harmonize both of these types of will, in a way that is fruitful and productive. 
Today’s reading represents a third kind of wedding. It is the wedding of the will of God to the receptive human soul. The king’s son, Christ, has pledged himself to the soul of humanity on earth, and to the earth itself. He is Love Incarnate, the Being of Love itself. The Father has invited us all to this wedding and urges us to accept the invitation, so that humanity can progress.  Yet respecting our freedom, He allows us our choice. Immersion only in business, being only one’s own master, unwillingness to respond properly to what is being offered can lead us into destruction of soul. The arrow of self-will turns against us.

We are to cultivate openness and receptivity, so that we can heed the invitation and put on the garment of open prayer. We are to receive the Bridegroom in the joy and celebration that is offered to us. We will find him in our appreciation of the wonders of the created world, in the compassion of hearts, in deeds motivated by conscience. In the words of Mary Oliver:

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.[1]

[1] Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes” in New and Selected Poems, Volume I