Scripture tells us that people from east and west, north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the Kingdom of God. What we are being told is that it is God’s strong desire to bring people together. Unity is one of the signs of the Gospel’s presence, and it is a sign of the presence of disciples of Jesus.
The reality for most of us is that we do not experience much unity. In fact, we are much more likely to experience separateness, division, fragmentation and violence in today’s world. Many of us are alienated; we do not feel connected to others. We are divided by color, ethnicity, and religion, levels of education and wealth, and difference cultural attitudes. All of these give rise to prejudice, and there is plenty of that.
Where might we begin? We must allow ourselves to feel the painfulness of the situation in our world. Some of us never reflect on what is going on around us from day to day. We never reach any real level of awareness that would motivate us to try to create a better world. Our main concerns remain for the most part at the animal level of eating and drinking. If we come to church and listen to the Gospel, it seems to pass over our heads, and we go through the week as though we had never heard it. The scripture is proclaimed in our hearing so that we can do something about it. It challenges us to take God seriously. Today’s scripture invites us to hear the message that God’s will for the human race is unity. If we are willing to hear that message and think about it, then we cannot be disturbed by the disunity and separateness that is common experience today.
Although we claim to live in a free country, many of us are not inwardly free. We have little self-discipline. We are slaves to our passions and desires. They are driven by whatever feelings urges them on at any given time. St. Paul tells us that Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death. Freedom, just like reconciliation and healing, must come from within us. To become inwardly free is a process. It involves a deep personal transformation and the opening up of a person to the power of God’s Spirit. It involves surrender and a letting go of the things that enslave us, followed by a movement in a different direction.