Proper 23

October 12, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 32:1-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
Reading 3: 
Philippians 4:1-9
Reading 4: 
Matthew 22:1-14
By Ignacio Castuera

October 12 is a most important day to remember. Preachers should not ignore the fullness of the meaning of this day for world history. Above all, pastors must not forget the pain of the conquered. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue AND Spain expelled Muslim and Jew. 1492 brought to an end almost eight centuries of Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula and the universal dimensions of Andalusian Islam were shattered by the tribalistic perspectives of medieval Christianity. Muslims were checked in their advance in Europe by Charles Martel, father of Charlemagne, in 711. With that victory Christianity retreated from its universal message. Charlemagne went on to add industrial strength to the Imperial religion of Rome. The Saxons who were syncretistic Christians were forced to abandon their “animistic” faith and to adopt the crucified lord as the only true object of veneration and adoration. The first crucifix ever appeared in the XI century and a more tribal Christianity took over the universalizing message of Jesus the prophet of love and peace.

1492 was the culmination of the Reconquista and the victorious Spaniards became the vicious conquerors. They and those that followed treated the “discovered” territories in the same way that the conquering forces of ancient Israel treated Canaan and modern Israelis treated Palestine. A land without people for a people without land continues to be the ideology of those who conquer and vanquish the conquered.

In contrast to this kind of “religion” the texts today speak of a universal banquet. Only those who exclude themselves are left out. The people of ancient Israel were on their way out of the banquet through their fashioning of idols. Process thought likes an interactive God who even “changes his mind!” (Mohammed had a very tough time with this and excludes the concept from the Holy Koran!) Moses stands between those who were excluding themselves and the God of all. As Moses reminds God what God’s true nature is, Israel is restored to the good graces of the One who loves and invites all.

The 23 Psalm has God preparing a banquet in the presence of enemies, a reference to ancient desert wisdom where a strong leader prepares a meal for those quarrelling in the hope of averting war. Only those who exclude themselves are left out.

In the Gospel we have the same principle of self-exclusion. The lack of adequate preparation on the part of the guest that comes without the proper attire to the wedding banquet should be seen in that light. God invites all, we have the opportunity to go to the feast but our own actions set us apart and against that universal call.

The epistle ought to be read out loud during the service. Maybe it can be broken up in sections and let it season the whole Sunday meal. This is Pauline theology at its best.

I suggest that even those denominations that do not have weekly communion should have some kind of love feast to dramatize the banquet mentioned in the majority of the texts today.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month it is wise to check what others wrote about these texts going back to 2002.