REFLECT 2 - The parable of the wedding feastMATTHEW 22:1-14 [or 22:1-10]

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” ’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Come to the Feast

Jesus illustrates the Kingdom of heaven through a parable. God is personified as a king who summons the invited guests to the marriage feast for his son. After he is rebuffed and rejected, he sends other servants to insist that the guests should come since everything is ready. The second invite is rejected anew and, worse, the servants are killed.

This enrages the king who turns violent himself and destroys the killers and their city. The comparison between God and the king in the parable ends here because God never desires the death or doom of the sinner. The sudden change in the demeanor of the king shows how people can turn a deaf ear to God’s invitation, and how God himself can be so displeased.

The upshot of the parable is that the king dispatches another set of servants to invite everyone whom they may find along the thoroughfares in order to fill the wedding hall with guests. The twist in the story comes when the king singles out a man from the crowd because he is not wearing a wedding garment and has him thrown into prison.

The crowd must be shocked listening to Jesus’ parable, feeling sorry for the man who is called from nowhere, brought to the wedding hall, and then thrown into prison. Among the different reactions may be that the king is seen as unfair, if not cruel.

The king, in Jesus’ time, always provides the wedding garments for people whom he invites. These garments, meticulously prepared ahead of time by the royal haberdashery, are all ready by the door of the palace on the actual wedding date. Not to wear the royal garment prepared for the special occasion, and to insist on wearing one’s own clothing, is thus considered an affront to the host.

In the parable, Jesus presents how God in many mysterious and varied ways calls people to himself by sending patriarchs, judges, kings, and prophets. At first, God invited the chosen people Israel. Later, God invited non-Jews who lived in Israel. Despite his repeated invitations, people rejected his offer so God now decides to extend his invitation to all peoples outside Israel.

Everybody is invited to God’s Kingdom. In fact, God has saved us in baptism. However, mere baptism into the Catholic faith is never enough. We have to grow in the faith that we have received, always wearing the spiritual garment, our sincere desire to follow and live the life of Jesus our Lord.

SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2020,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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