Psalm 23/ Matthew 22:1-14
Banquet in God’s Kingdom
Food for Life, Food for Celebration
Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Did you cook a traditional turkey dinner? We tried something different this year. In our effort to contribute to undoing the climate crisis, we cooked our first vegan Thanksgiving dinner. We are not turning 100% vegan; we are just trying to eat less meat and dairy.
Food is essential to life, both for the bodies of animals and plants, but also for the health of our planet. Our planet is affected by what we grow and eat. Food is also essential for celebration. That is why we have holiday dinners. Food is so essential that those who don’t have access to enough food suffer and die.
When I was in Kenya, one year, drought struck. A lot of villages had very little food. A woman died during childbirth after starving for a while. A lot of people died of malnutrition and hunger, adults and children. Meanwhile, the region where I lived was producing so many bananas that a lot of them went bad without being sold. I preached at my church that our bananas should be shared with the regions that had no food. However, nothing happened. Our bananas went bad and people from other regions suffered famine. Don’t you think there is something wrong with this? I believe that there is enough food to feed the world. It’s the people and the system that fail to fairly distribute it.
Banquet in God’s Reign
What is a Christian response to the hunger and food security issue? We can get a clue and inspiration from the parable we read today. This is one of the “kingdom parables” that teach us what God’s reign (or kingdom) is like. In today’s parable, a king invited people to his son’s wedding. When his servants were sent to call the invited guests to the wedding banquet, they either ignored them or killed them. In the end, the king ordered his servants to go out and bring in anyone they can find and invite them to the banquet.
Okay, originally, this parable was about God’s chosen people Jews not living a life worthy of God, and those who come to the banquet unprepared, like the character who wasn’t dressed properly. Since God’s original guests, the Jews, ignored God’s will, now, everyone else is invited. However, not all those who are invited will be worthy in the end. That is why the parable ends with, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” However, we are going to focus today on the fact that everyone in the streets are invited to the king’s banquet.
Everyone is invited to the king’s banquet just like everyone is welcome at the communion table. The Holy Communion is a symbolic meal to which everyone is invited without discrimination. The Holy Communion is how we practise the radical hospitality of God that we learned from Jesus. We don’t get to decide who is welcome in God’s kingdom and who is not. That is called pride, and it is one of the mortal sins according to a Catholic doctrine.
We are called to treat everyone like they are God’s beloved (because we are indeed all God’s beloved). Think about our holiday dinners. Sometimes, we invite those who are not technically our family members into our homes to share those meals. I invited Noel to our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals like some church ladies invited me in Kimberley when I was alone. Now, we are challenged to widen that circle to include all God’s people. God’s reign looks like many different people eating together at one table in a banquet.
World Food Day
Today, we celebrate World Food Day. World Food Day was created by The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to free humanity from hunger and malnutrition, and effectively manage the global food system.
Think of how blessed we are in this country. Living in this country is a privilege, and privileges should be used to help those without them. To quote Psalm 23 loosely, God is our shepherd and takes care of our needs. God protects us. Our cup overflows, here in Canada. But even inside this blessed country, a lot of people don’t have food security. We should act and share what we have both inside and outside the country.
On this Food Day, let us think about food. Is what we eat good for our health and our planet’s health? Are we wasting food? Are we donating to those who don’t have enough food? These are the questions on which I invite us all to reflect. Then let us eat less meat and eat local. Let us also donate to feed those without enough food. For example, the new Gifts with Visions catalogue came out, so we can donate to projects that feed God’s people. We can also donate to our local food bank.
Let’s feed the world like the banquet in God’s kingdom. Let us share our privilege. On this Food Day, let us give thanks for our abundant food sources, be more aware of what and how we eat, and participate in feeding the world.