October 13, 2002
"God Will Destroy
BY JOHN DEAR
God will destroy death forever and wipe away the tears from every face."
Isaiah 25:6-10; Matthew 22:1-10
I wish I had a good joke to tell you to cheer you all up, but I don't
know any good jokes. For example, "How do you make holy water?"
You boil the hell out of it. See I told you I don't know any good jokes.
I'm glad to be back from Pittsburgh last weekend, but have been deeply upset
all week that our country is going to bomb Iraq. War will not bring democracy
to Iraq; it will only kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly
children, people just like you and me.
I have always wanted to take Jesus seriously, like all of you; to love everyone
on the whole planet like he did, and to try and serve God's reign, and so throughout
my whole life, as I've told some of you, I've been involved with other church
people in speaking out against war and poverty, lobbied politicians for disarmament,
traveled in many war zones around the world, been at many peace protests against
war and the death penalty, and even been arrested and jailed many times in
protests against war and nuclear weapons, in the tradition of Martin Luther
King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, trying to follow Jesus, to take a stand for peace
A few years ago, I went to Iraq with a group of Nobel Peace Prize winners,
and I saw how the Iraqi people have suffered from our bombs and from the sanctions.
I remember meeting with the Papal Nuncio who spoke about the large Catholic
population in Iraq and cried begging us to stop the bombings.
For the last two weeks, the Pope and the bishops have been saying over and
over, Don't bomb Iraq! Going to war with Iraq won't stop terrorism or protect
us; it will only make matters worse. Jesus wants us to love the people of Iraq,
not bomb them, so I think Jesus must be weeping over what we are doing.
The readings today are so beautiful because they speak about God's vision
of the world, how God wants us to enjoy life with the whole human race, how
God's reign is a place of love, peace and joy.
The prophet Isaiah says that on God's mountain, in God's house, there will
be food and wine for everyone. Heaven is going to be a big party, and what's
so exciting is that heaven is not just up there, but here and now. God is going
to destroy death forever, Isaiah says, and wipe away all our tears and everyone
is going to be happy and live in peace and love together.
Jesus takes up where Isaiah left off. Today, he tells us that the reign of
God is like a wedding banquet, which is really one of the happiest experiences
in life. In Jesus' day, the wedding feast would go on for days. Everyone would
eat, sing, dance, and praise God. Jesus says life is like that, that the reign
of God is like that, that the world should be like a great fiesta, that everyone
should be eating, singing and dancing, that everyone should put aside their
grievances and love one another and rejoice in life and praise God, and wipe
away every trace of killing and death.
God has prepared a huge wedding feast, Jesus says, and everyone is invited!
But what is so shocking and disturbing in the story and our world is that people
don't want to go. People turn down God's invitation to the wedding banquet.
Some ignore it; some go away; but worst of all, some of them harass and kill
God's messengers. People don't want God or God's way of love and peace and
But God insists that the wedding hall should be filled with guests, and orders
his servants to go out to the highways and byways and bring people into God's
house, into the wedding banquet.
This is exactly what has happened to you and me. We have been brought into
God's reign, maybe without our even knowing it. All of you are already living
in the wedding feast of God's reign of peace and love. And the Good News today
is that all we have to do is relax and enjoy life and help others have the
fullness of life, too.
All we have to do is enjoy the party, enjoy the company of Jesus, enjoy one
another, and help bring others into God's party, into God's reign of peace
and life, but that means we have to speak out against all that goes against
God's reign, including bombing the Iraqi people, which God surely doesn't want,
and call for peaceful resolutions to the crisis. All we have to do is help
one another accept God's invitation to the wedding banquet of life, help one
another reject violence and war and death, and make God happy by enjoying the
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