Exodus 32:1-14 and Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
Isaiah 25:1-9 and Psalm 23
Peace be with you!
One of my husband’s favorite movies is The Replacements, which is about a football team coach, Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman), hiring replacements during a pro football strike. Of course, the replacements are a bunch of want-to-be pro football players who missed the mark during college for whatever reason and some individuals who never played football before.
Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) is a former quarterback at Ohio State University who choked in the Sugar Bowl in 1996. Right out of college Falco was drafted by Seattle and pushed into the spotlight without preparation, which blew his professional career. Jumbo Fumiko (Ace Yonamine), a Japanese sumo wrestler, was hired as an offensive tackle. Clifford Franklin (Orlando Jones) is a stockboy at a mini mart who cannot catch anything but sure can out run anyone (The Replacements (film) n.d.).
McGinty believes in his players and works with them to make them into a real professional team. It takes the players a few games to get in sync with each other and trust their fellow teammates. Once the players became a team, the Sentinels became unstoppable and had a chance at the playoffs. Eddie Martel (Brett Cullen), the regular first-string quarterback, crosses the picket line to play the last regular season game, which leaves Falco on the sidelines (well, he does not show up).
At half-time, the score is 17-0 with little help of the Sentinels winning, because the replacements (who are the real team) are not gelling with Martel who blames them for his mistakes. A reporter asks McGinty what it will take for the team to win and he says, “Miles and miles of heart.” This causes Falco to race to the stadium, and the rest of the replacements kick Martel out of the locker room. Amazingly, with the leadership of Falco, the Sentinels win the game (20-17) and go to the playoffs.
In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus tells a parable of the wedding banquet. The king goes to great lengths to invite his friends to his son’s wedding by sending his slaves (Matthew 22:2-3). The invitees refused to come, so the king sent other slaves to remind them about the wedding (Matthew 22:4). Again, some of the invitees went about their day, while others mistreated and killed the king’s slaves (Matthew 22:5-6). This enraged the king who sent his troops to burn the homes of the ungrateful invitees.
In the movie The Replacements, the pro athletes would be the ungrateful invitees. The owners of the Sentinels wanted the pro athletes to come play for him, but they were holding out for more money. The pro athletes want for themselves.
In the Christian world, the ungrateful invitees are those of us that refuse to hear the good news. We all have days when we are deaf to good news and just want to go about our day in the world. In Jesus’ day, these individuals would be the Jews who refused to hear the good news.
The parable goes on by the king sending his slaves out yet again, but this time he instructed them to invite anyone willing to come to his son’s wedding (Matthew 22:9). The slaves gathered all sorts of individuals – good, bad, and indifferent – to fill the banquet hall. The king could finally give his son a grand wedding.
The attendees represent those individuals who listen attentively to the good news. These individuals would be the Gentiles in Jesus’ day. God sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to give the good news of forgiveness to Jews who rejected him, so he went out to give the good news to the Gentiles. The Gentiles take the good news to heart and welcome God the Father into their hearts.
Now there is one attendee that refused to wear a wedding robe (Matthew 22:11-12). The king has the individual bind at his/her hands and feet and thrown out to the darkness (Matthew 22:13). These verses are more law than gospel and are difficult to put nicely. The attendee who refused to wear a wedding robe, even the one that was provided, represents the individual who pretends to be a believer of the good news. However, God will not allow those individuals who pretend to enter his kingdom. If you only kind of believe in the good news, you will not enter the Kingdom of God. You have to believe with your whole heart in the good news in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
In the movie The Replacements, the attendee who refused to wear a wedding robe would be Eddie Martel who only wanted to play until the team had a chance at the playoffs. But the replacements did not welcome Martel into their circle. Martel felt he was better than the replacements, but in the end he was interrupting the team’s flow and was not a part of the team. Once Falco came back the second-half, the team players were able to work together again.
God is inviting us to the wedding banquet in the Kingdom of God. We just need to choose to be true Christians.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for telling us this difficult parable. Help us to be true Christians and a strong community. Thank you for inviting us to the wedding banquet. Amen.
The Replacements (film). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Replacements_(film) (accessed October 8, 2011).
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
1. What does it mean to be a true Christian?
2. Are there individuals in your life that pretend to be Christians? How do they make you feel?