Thursday Week 20 Year II

With a parable like this one I don’t know who I like least: Jesus who speaks or Matthew who puts the words into his mouth. “For many are called but few are chosen.” Lousy words to start a retreat because they paint God in such a poor light.
There are two ways of reading these things. You can take it at face value and see God in that murderous king who acts first out of revenge—bad enough—but then out of pettiness which is worse. And where does it leave me? Where’s my wedding garment? and am I in danger of the outer darkness and the grinding teeth?
Occasionally I fall into that trap—where God gets to carry the weight of all my own self-hatred—but, more often—on better days, I read a story like this and get myself into knots trying to find a way to get God off the hook. Can I twist the words to show God in a better light? Maybe the awkward guest was being deliberately disrespectful? Maybe it’s all about whether you will celebrate or not—I’ve used that one myself. But then I catch myself at it and I’m struck by the disproportion of it all. Who am I to be defending God? Isn’t God big enough to take care of himself? Why does it all feel so fragile?
So this afternoon I re-discovered a third way of reading. What if I simply sat with God and told her all about it? About my fear that my own heart is stony. About my embarrassment when I’m associated with a punishing God. About the frustration of homilies that don’t work out. …
And God, being God, said nothing but said it very quietly. For quite a while. And then God, being God, spoke in the way God does—in words that could be your own but carry a weight beyond their size and surprise you—“what if no one came?” That’s what God said.
What, I wonder, if all this—this planet, this splendour, this grace, this gift, this enormous, delicate, breathing, throbbing, burgeoning brightness—were the invitation. And what if no one came?