Del Villar T.
Del Villar T.
When was the last time you went to a party? Can you remember the place, the people, the food? Can you remember the music, the conversations, and the noise? What were you celebrating? A birthday, a wedding, an anniversary? Maybe a holiday?
Since the pandemic began, social gatherings of all types have been reduced to the minimum.
To stop the spread of the virus, we have avoided classrooms, churches, malls, buses, parks, and of course, parties. Our lives and activities have been reduced drastically. We’ve been deprived of many things. But most of all, we’ve been robbed from the presence of others. From the simple yet profound experience of being physically with others and celebrating our lives with them.
I’ve surprised myself many times, saying to people that I love: “When all of this finishes, we will have to throw a party!”
Don’t you miss the chaos of a good party? I certainly miss it. And I think that the readings for this Sunday speak directly to that longing. The very human longing that makes us strive not only for survival but for abundance and celebration. We cannot live without food and drink, and we cannot live without one another. This pandemic has reminded us that our desire for human contact and celebration can be as central to our lives as our daily hunger for food and our thirst for water.
When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, he described it as a wedding party hosted by a King. A wedding party that no one in their senses could refuse: It is an invitation to celebrate life! Still, there are those who are too satisfied or too busy to attend and decline the invitation. Other commitments are more important than their hunger for God’s feast.
At this point, the King does something unexpected: instead of canceling the party, he sends his servants to go out into the main roads and invite whomever they find, bad and good alike. The party is going to happen anyway. The food is ready, and the banquet is served. But this time, the guests are not the important people, those who “deserve” to be there, but the nobodies, anyone who is willing to come. And the halls of the King are suddenly filled with guests.
In the gospel of Matthew, the outcasts are the gentiles, in contrast to the chosen people. In the parallel in Luke, the outcasts are the poor and marginalized, in contrast with the wealthy and satisfied. In both cases, those who are excluded by society either for religious, ethnic, or socio-economic reasons, become the guests of honor. It is those who are really hungry for food, hungry of belonging, and hungry of God, the ones who get to attend the party of the Kingdom.
Jesus preaches a God that, after being rejected by his guests, desires to host a party anyways. A God that wants to have a house filled with guests. And that is willing to open his home to anyone who wants to enjoy the party. Can we imagine being part of such a party? A party that is not filled only with our family and friends, but with anyone who is hungry and thirsty for food, drink, and love? A party that is not for the satisfied in their bodies and souls, but the abandoned, the rejected, for those with hungry stomachs and aching hearts? That is the wedding feast of the King’s son, the banquet of Jesus, the party that we have to prepare for, and the party we are called to begin in the here and now of our lives.
And nothing prepares us better for a party than a big desire to be a part of it. God is the extinction of all our desires, not because we don’t desire anymore (that is the equivalent of death) but because the God of the Kingdom will finally fulfill our very human desires of food and love. In a world so filled with injustice, exclusion, abandonment, in a world where so many people don’t have enough to eat and don’t know how to love… Jesus’ invitation to the banquet of the Kingdom becomes urgent. It is an invitation that we cannot refuse, an invitation that cannot wait. We need to be together with all of those who are thirsty and hungry in our world, connect with their profound needs and desires, and with our own, if the good news of the Kingdom is going to be really good news for us. As the Argentinean theologian Marcella Althaus-Ried says: our hunger for food, our longing for human touch, and our hunger for God are all part of the same structure of desire that shapes our famished human lives, and challenge us to take risks, to engage with others, and to strive for liberation, not just for us, but for all. After all, salvation is not a private meal, but a massive carnival where everyone has a place. Do we desire to be part of such a party?
Amid this global pandemic that has made evident so many injustices and so many pangs of hunger… in these moments of history in which we feel so deprived and unsatisfied with our present, let us remember that the God of Jesus is a God that has prepared a big feast for us. That our hope and our future is a feast, and that we can prepare for that feast only if we dress ourselves with the proper garment. That is the garment of solidarity, of expectation, of hope—the garment of those who know that human beings need bread, but also wine. We need the minimum of justice, but also the maximum of love, gratuitousness, and abundance that will satisfy together our bodies and souls.
M. Soledad Del Villar T.
M. Soledad Del Villar T.
María Soledad was born in Santiago de Chile in 1985. She is now living in the Boston area while pursuing her PhD in Systematic Theology at Boston College. She is also a Resident Minister serving college students and a member of the Latinx community of St. Ignatius Parish at Chestnut Hill.
During her life, María Soledad has been able to combine her academic interests in theology, feminism, and politics with an active life of pastoral work among marginalized communities and young people both in Chile and the US. She is also a history teacher, and holds two masters, one on Contemporary History and one in Theology (M.T.S). She recently published a book that narrates the stories of the social workers of Vicaría de la Solidaridad, a Catholic institution that defended human rights during the last Chilean dictatorship (1973 – 1989).
She is also co-founder of the movement Mujeres Iglesia, a Catholic and feminist movement based in Chile, that unites Catholic women from different parts of the country in the common effort to deepen their faith through a feminist lens, and pursue justice for women both in the Church and society.
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