When I was in eighth grade, our class made a trip to the high desert to do some stargazing where there were few city lights and no smog or marine layer to get in the way of viewing the night sky. The view of the countless stars and the Milky Way galaxy was stunning. Through the telescope our science teacher brought we were able to see three of the four large moons of Jupiter. It was on this trip that my appreciation and love for astronomy began.
But what I remember most of all from that trip was something he said to us. He said something to the effect, “When I look into this telescope and am able to see the stars beyond the stars, my belief in God is strengthened.” When we pause to consider the immensity of all that God has created and put into motion, it is humbling to say the least.
When we awaken with breath in body, opening our eyes to see the sun shining and opening the window to hear the world around us, we are gifted. We do not have direct control over the very basic things of our life and our world. Miraculously, our heart beats, the sun shines, plants grow, the world moves in its perfect design without our involvement at all. This is all God’s doing.
In today’s gospel, Jesus is invited to a dinner and observes how the guests are jockeying for the places of honor. He tells the parable of the wedding banquet to challenge us to put aside seeking status and prestige grounded in the false ideals of power, authority and wealth. By telling us to “not recline at the place of honor,” Jesus is telling us to let go of only thinking about ourselves and instead consider the other. Later in the parable Jesus tells his host to not invite people who are able to return the favor, but instead invite those who are in no position to reciprocate.
Every week, we are privileged to gather at the banquet of the Eucharist. At this banquet, we are invited to love our host, the God who created all things. We are all called and equally worthy to be at the banquet. Can we quiet ourselves enough to be full of gratitude for the invitation and rejoice in all that we have? In response to that gratitude, can we humble ourselves and be present to serve those in our midst who are marginalized: the poor, the homeless and the outsider?
Deacon Joe Torti