I know someone who is very active in the church. She spends a lot of time with priests and religious people, gets to know them very well. She is also very successful in her lucrative career related to real estate. A while ago she took me out to lunch, which was very nice of her. We talked about my going to Ecuador, how things are going with her boyfriend. I always thought we were friends.
In May, I sent out invitations for people to share in the mission in Ecuador by helping out friends and others who had lost their homes in a terrifying night of landslides. I was present with them, walking through the night of horror and the days after of frustration and confusion. See, there’s a love in my heart for these people, so what they experience, I experience, too. What happens to them, also happens in a way to me. So, when I sent out the invitation to help these people, it was also an invitation to help me.
Now, a number of people responded, and that was very moving for me to see. Some were very, very generous, almost too generous. I am very grateful and am excited to be in the process of planning a get together for everyone who gave who can make it.
But others didn’t respond at all. I sent out updates and extra invitations, and they didn’t respond. People who had been close to me before I left, offered nothing. No token ten bucks, no note, no prayer, no money. Nothing. Like the woman who is active in the church. Nothing.
I thought she was a friend.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a king who sends out invitations for the wedding feast for his son. Everyone turns him down. Now, one of the questions I have is, why did he send the invitations to those folks? I bet I know. I bet they are buddy-buddy with the king when they want to be validated for being important, when they need a favor, when they need to hide behind the authority figure because they are low on self-esteem. I bet they always have a nice thing to say to him, are always finding their way into the king’s court to gain his favor. But when the king wants his real work done, when it’s time for what’s really most important to the king, when who he really is comes to the fore, they are noooowhere to be found. I think that’s why the king was angry: because these people made it seems like they were his friends. They turned out to be fakers. And the guy who shows up without the wedding garment? He doesn’t care about the wedding – he’s there for another reason. Not a friend. A faker.
There were two people in the Gospels who kissed Jesus. One of them kissed his face, his head. The other kissed his feet. One kissed up, the other kissed down. The one who kissed up? Judas. A money guy supposedly close to Jesus, but a faker. The one who kissed down? The woman who was guilty of a lot and spent time at the bottom. She and Jesus were actually friends.
God doesn’t need or care about kissing up to His authority and to the priests and religious people. If you want to kiss God, you don’t kiss up. You kiss down. He’s not at the top. He’s at the bottom.
And that’s the difference between a friend and a faker.
“Friend, why are you here?” (Mt 26:50)