Sunday Week 28 Year A

We have no right to be here… any of us. But here we are.
The last few weeks the gospel stories from Matthew have been putting the question over and over again: who is worthy to be in God’s kingdom? Remember the labourers in the vineyard who get paid a flat rate no matter how much they’ve worked. Remember the tax collectors and prostitutes who get into the kingdom instead of the good people. Remember the tenants who took over the vineyard and killed the owners son.
One way or another all about worth. Who has the right to be counted in? Who can rest on their laurels and feel safe with God?
And today—the great wedding feast. Like Isaiah’s promised banquet when all good things come to the people… from the finest food and wine to the abolition of death and shame and every tear. Well Jesus says, the banquet is here and now. The invitations have all been sent out. The time has been set. The food is ready. The wine poured. And none of the worthy people have turned up. Not a one of them. They’ve cooked up excuses. They’ve snubbed God. They’ve resorted to violence.
So what does God do? If you invite the people of honour and they insult your honour by not coming what do you do? God does a strange, strange thing. God invites people who have no honour. People who would never be invited. People of no standing. People who are altogether unworthy.
God sits down to eat with sinners and slackers, with the man on the street, with the woman at the corner, with anyone God can find.
So here we are. We are that second crop of guests. Dragged in off the street. With no way to repay the invitation. No way to do the host honour. Sinners and slackers the lot of us. But we are here. And that’s more than can be said for most.
We have no right to be here… any of us. But here we are.
Good and bad alike, the parable says. And that makes you want to look around and sort people out. Who among us are the good ones and who are the bad? And how would you tell?
God doesn’t seem to be able to tell … He invites the worthy people and they don’t turn up. So then he takes all-comers. What matters most is not that we are good or bad but that we are here. Not that we have a ticket to gain us admittance but that we have accepted the invitation.
Most of us struggle with doing the right thing. Day to day. The way we live in our families. The things we have to do at work. The choices we are faced with. The way we vote. The way we spend our cash.
Because things aren’t easy. And we keep on making compromises that sadden us and make us feel cheap. We do some good and we do some bad. And some times we’re not sure which is which. And some times things work out and some times all hell breaks loose. We’re not sure ourselves whether we are good or bad. Let alone looking at the person next to us and wondering about them.
But the important thing right now is not that we can stand up proudly and say we’ve done a good job—or even admit that we’ve messed up—but just that we’ve accepted the invitation to be here.
Not just here, as in church, as in being a Catholic, a Christian, but here as in being someone living life as if God mattered and as if God’s dreams mattered.
Because God’s dreams for us and for the whole world are awesome. God’s dream is that all this … should be a party, a banquet, a feast. That sadness should be no more, that death be destroyed, that every tear be wiped away, and every accusation denied. Do you know how to do that? Does anyone? … But God does. And God’s invitation is to live life as if we believed in the dream … as if it mattered. As if we cared.
We have no right to be part of the party. But then the people who did have turned down the invitation. Who are we? We are the leftovers. The guys dragged in from the streets. We are good and bad. We are sinners and slackers … and saints. But we are here. And that’s what matters.