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The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 15, 2017
Father Tom Lucas, SJ, guest preacher

      If you want to see today’s parable of the wedding feast enacted, a presentation of the celebration that is a foretaste of the kingdom of God, come to St. James Cathedral Hall on Columbia at Terry at 4:15 pm on any Monday through Friday afternoon.

       The procession to St. James starts most days around 1:30. You see the guests streaming from all over of the city. Some with Orca cards, some trudging up this steep First Hill from Rainier Valley or Pioneer Square, others from West Seattle or from the city’s parks or shelters. They are an unlikely band of guests: down on their luck folk, junkies, alcoholics and the street-worn, some young and lost, others old and confused. There are sometimes mothers with their youngsters. Many cannot speak English, or cannot speak it well. On cold days, some pause and rest or nap in the warmth of our open cathedral, a place of beauty and refuge; on warm afternoons, they wait patiently until three o’clock out in the sun out on Columbia.

         At three, the doors of the Cathedral Hall open; earlier on days when it is cold and raining. Two splendid directors and volunteer cooks and cleaners arrived before then, to slice lettuce and dice apples and oranges, to sauté hamburger or wash and boil 65 pounds of potatoes, to carefully prepare 160 plates of sweet desserts and gallons of coffee. The volunteers are a cross section too: army reservists and retired teachers and nurses and former food service workers; mothers and grandmothers who worry aloud about their own youngsters as the make the salad, a stockbroker who puts on a rubber apron to scrub the pots and pans, students from O’Dea and Holy Names and Seattle U who set the tables, butter the bread, and learn from what they see, learn from those with whom they serve, and learn from those they serve.  When all is ready, the volunteers pause for a moment of prayer, and promptly at 4:15, the shuttered windows of the food line are rolled up, and the feast begins.

        A hot entrée: shepherd’s pie or sloppy joes or baked ziti, turkey and mashed potatoes, or on the third Thursday of the month, pizza from our friends at Pagliacci. Every day, five days a week, fresh green salad and fresh fruit salad, buttered bread and an array of desserts, food donated, gleaned, or bought thanks to the generosity of this congregation. 150 guests, or 160 or 170; at the end of the month when the assistance checks have been spent, 200 or more. They wait their turn, most of them patiently, a few with a smile; the volunteers call them “Sir” and “Ma’am”. There are occasional scuffles, or harsh words, but more often, they wait their turn with the ancient enduring patience of the poor, and are grateful on the days when there are seconds. Dishes and counters and tablecloths are washed, floors are mopped, and the next day it all begins again.

        I tell you about this not to praise the generosity of the volunteers and our many donors, praiseworthy as they are; not to make us proud of our parish’s good works in all its many ministries, good as they are. I point to it because the Cathedral Kitchen is a simple reminder, a sign, an outward sign that gives grace, a sacrament: no less than what we celebrate at this altar. It is a sacrament of mercy that anticipates the messianic banquet we heard described in today’s first reading, when the Lord God will wipe away the tears from every eye; and there will be enough for all, and a place at table for all, the rich and the poor, the good and the not so good alike.  

        Until that blessed day dawns, Christ is served Monday through Friday as he passes through the line next door at 4:15 pm, carrying his tray. He waits for us to recognize his wounded hands and feet in the wounded hands and feet and hearts of the guests who come there. He is grateful for a hot meal, and for the warmth, and the kindness and acceptance he receives from those who serve him there, and from us who serve him here today in this celebration.

       Until that blessed day when all is taken up into the mystery of God, when God becomes all in all, we need to keep our doors open, keep our hearts open so to recognize him among the guests next door. Together we affirm that until he comes at last in glory, we will keep the potatoes boiling on the stove. So may it be.

Father Tom Lucas, SJ

 

 

 

 

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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303