In these months of the global pandemic, we are pining for festive meals and joy with family and friends. We are waiting for our churches to be full again with chanting voices. That’s why, the words of Isaiah, just enhance this intensity of this yearning. ‘The Lord of hosts will prepare a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, a food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.’ Are the words of Revelation in this passage out of joint? No, they have not lost their timeliness. Feasting and pure joy is not a nostalgia. The happiness it promises is not a utopia either which we will never be able to reach again. On the contrary, God is so realistic. He is fully aware that we need healing first. As our text continues, ‘On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the should enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from very cheek.’
On a personal level, the words of a famous Jewish payer are echoing. ‘Who will live, and who will die?... Who by plague?... Who will be brought low, and who will be raised up?’ We feel the devastating effects of the pandemic all around us. Many of us, on top of our fears, have relatives or friends hospitalised, because of illness or accident. And this can easily lead us to dispair. That’s why, our inner compass should be the emphasis of Isaiah: ‘See, this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.’ This emphasis is so profoundly healing when said in the present tense: ‘look, thisis our God in whom we hope for salvation, the Lord is the one in whom we hope!’ This, and the prayer I quoted, also urges us to summon our better selves through taking action: repentance, prayer, and righteousness.
This tripartite call only culminates in the Gospel. The same choice is laid before us. Should we turn down our invitation to ‘the king’s feast’? Should we give up our previous, pre-pandemic enthusiasm, and commitment? Because of the pandemic, should we give up our religious practice and belonging to our local church? Or, shall we overcome our fears, and renew our covenant with God and our faith in Him?
Reaching that tipping point of returning from our exiles is the crucial moment. Maimonides, in a similarly difficult period, felt similarly. And this is the testimony of many saints throughout the centuries. Saint Francis, Saint Theresa of Lisieaux, Saint Maximilian Kolbe could have said the same. ‘Every person is capable of improving the whole world through performing even one good deed.’ (Mishnah Torah, Laws of Repentance, 3:4) By wearing a mask, feeding the hungry, calling our friends, or promoting justice in our communities. Each of us has the potential to tip the scales just enough to transform the world for God. As a community of faith, we Christians together have the potential to transform our Covid-19 stricken world. We can sow the seed of the joy of the kingdom of heave, that of ‘king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding’, Jesus said.
May this joy indeed come to pass, and may we see the day soon when we all join together in community to mark our feasts, and Eucharists, which we can celebrate, hopefully, soon, in full numbers. So let us work, and live, our days, as our Lord intended us to live. Let us learn to pray and live the underlying request of our Lord’s Prayer. ‘Give us with our daily bread our daily joy!’ And let in this joy the healing that our world needs come! Amen.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..