There was a period when I felt strangely unsettled. Strange because it happened at a time when I should have been at the happiest; a young happy family and a job that afforded us a few luxuries. Ironically, it was the efficient, routine grind of work, repeating week after week, that probed my inner space, puncturing any elation, actually leaving me close to depression. “Is this life?” was a question that tormented my inner self for almost 2 years then. I was in a mid-life crisis.
I felt restless but I didn’t know why. I was full of what life had to offer, yet I felt a grave emptiness. I was wondering, without realising I was searching. I was doing new things to thrill but each choice fell flat. There were many loud choices but as each fell away, I saw a choice somewhat staying quietly in the distant. It was a choice to serve in the parish, something I had never done as an adult. I ignored it, “I don’t feel that is me at all. And I have better things to do”.
“‘Tell those who have been invited’ he said ‘that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.’ But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.” (Today’s Gospel)
A friend asked this week, “Is the purpose of our life here really just to ‘go along’ with whatever comes?” Mid-life is a good time to take stock. We have accumulated enough of a past to debate about God being a choice in our life. Life climbed us up some paths we never chose. Tired, disillusioned, we are told to let go, accept and trust God. “Is there no other perspective than to go along with God?” We may feel upset that God is in the way preventing us from doing what we like. It is no surprise that we keep refusing to go for the banquet.
Life is a tall mountain. Education, job, relationships, career, family, schooling, relationships, health, ageing and finally death. In between each climb, we stumble, fail and fall. We pick ourselves up. Dusting off the pain, God as a choice comes back again into our face. We are again invited for the banquet. And again, we have a choice to go or not to go.
“On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food. On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, he will destroy Death for ever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek.” (First Reading)
This is the purpose of life. Our souls must find a way up the mountain of life back to our Creator. In our restless emptiness we ponder without knowing why, we search without knowing what. This is because God as a choice for our life is not a one-way choice. God chooses us too, hence the many banquet invitations. The choice for God does not start with you. It starts with God. It is not about us going to God in our mid-life muddle, but that God is coming to you. You didn’t move, He did. His choice pulled you. He wants to haul us up the mountain.
“When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’”
We have the freedom to keep refusing to choose God as a lifestyle choice. It is a common misconception that God judges us as we make our way through life. No. The generosity of God will come calling till our last breath. When we let go and let God, when we accept our situations and trust Him, when we let Him haul us up the mountain, we are allowing him to sew us a wedding garment, without which we might end up being thrown into the dark where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.
St. Augustine says, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds it’s rest in thee”.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time