In the hotel where I’m staying in Ecuador, there’s an extended family helping out in the management of it. One of the young men working there is very much still in the woman-seeking stage of life. But it’s a little complicated, because more than anything, he’s looking for a visa to the US, and a relationship with an American or European woman would be the ticket. He doesn’t see a lot of hope for Ecuador, and so that clouds his judgment. The problem? He’s not free. He’s not free enough to be able to love.
The other day, he passed by and said to me, “I’m going to get you a woman, Jerome.” I laughed and said, “I have a woman that you don’t know about.” I think he took it that I was joking about having a hidden relationship in one of the hotel rooms. But that’s only sort of what I meant. The mission I have, everything I’m doing, is very much a mission of love. And it’s not visible to the naked eye. You have to be free to see it.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus was in the midst of traveling through Samaria when he comes to Jacob’s Well. That’s where Jacob met his wife Rachel. Well, Jesus has his own encounter with a woman, a Samaritan who has finally met more than the man of her dreams, and heads off to her village to tell everyone. The disciples tell Jesus he needs to get something to eat, and he says, “I have food that you don’t know about.” (Jn 4:32). It’s to do the will of his Father and complete his work. What’s he talking about?
He’s talking about the wedding feast.
Remember the wedding feast at Cana? Where Jesus has wine that no one knows about? Well, he has food that no one knows about, and a bride that no one knows about. It’s the wedding feast.
And it’s happening right now.
See, God’s wedding banquet isn’t about sitting around and gorging on sumptuous food and wine, with the kindest, best-looking partner. God’s wedding banquet is action. The food and wine is laying down one’s real life to live with and give oneself to a spouse, day after day until the end. The spouse is the people who are on the outside or the bottom, and the part of each of us that lives there. God’s wedding feast is a celebration of love and life. And it’s happening right now.
Jesus invites us to the wedding feast because he wants us to be free. It’s not an invitation to a Mass or sacraments or a Bible renewal, to go to church. It’s an invitation to follow Jesus and join with him in coming down in life, to live with and give oneself to people who are left out or runover or stepped on, to the people who have priority in his mercy. And it costs us a lot. In fact, it costs us everything.
But when we are free to do that, we get a new life. We get fed. We get a wine that gives us a deep joy that no one or nothing can take away. And we get a share in that spousal love that’s beyond our dreams.
We get God’s wedding feast.