Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wedding Invitation

1. The kingdom of heaven is like a wedding feast. When you are at a wedding feast, there is usually plenty of food and drink. The hosts are encouraging you to eat and have a good time. There is music, maybe dancing. As a rule, people wear their best clothes, even renting them if necessary. Even people who normally would never wear a suit or a tie or a dress will dress up. At a wedding feast you will find people of all ages young and old. It is not a time for sadness, but a time of joy to celebrate the new family which has been formed. The kingdom of heaven is like a wedding feast.
1. Now how much does it cost to go to a wedding feast? Nothing. It is all paid for. When we are the guests, all we have to do is show up and enjoy. We might have been generous donors to assist the couple and their families in providing the feast, but it does not cost anything.
2. That is part of Jesus’ point in the Gospel. The kingdom of heaven is a feast in which God our Father has already done all the preparations. It simply remains for us to attend the feast. Of course if the invited guests do not go to the feast, it does not really matter how delicious the food is, or how rich the wine is, or how great the music is, or how beautiful and pleasant the other guests are. If you are not at the feast, you get nothing. As strange as it may sound, there are people who simply do not want to attend the feast of the kingdom of heaven. They have other things to do. And they will even kill the messengers who bring the invitation, so that they do not have to even listen to what they are missing.
3. In the parable, Jesus is referring to those who did not listen to the prophets of old, but preferred to remain in sin and not turn to God. Their worldly pursuits were satisfying, so they thought, and they did not want anyone to tell them what to do. It is the same way now. When people do not want to hear God’s call they try to drown it out with other things- pleasures, work, getting their own way... There are countries where children are beaten at school simply for being Christian. And where Christians live in constant fear of being kidnapped or murdered. Or where it is illegal for a priest to celebrate Mass, which is the wedding feast on earth. In our own country, there are politicians trying to pass a so-called Freedom of Choice Act- which will make abortion a civil right that must be supported with tax money. They are hoping to force people to accept their way of thinking and silence anyone who would claim that life is precious and that the innocent ought to be protected from violence.
4. In any event, if someone does not want to go to the wedding feast of the kingdom of heaven, they do not have to go. Just like if you want to skip Mass on Sunday, you can. (Now as Catholics we are obligated to go to Mass, it is a sin to miss). But we are not going out and forcing people into the doors. If you really do not want to be here, then you probably will not show up. Of course, there are consequences. If you do not share in the feast, then your punishment is that you do not get to share in the feast. Anyway, as one of our professors in the seminary put it "if you’re damned to hell its your own damned fault"- you chose it.
5. The part of this parable which has always been the most notable for me is the part where the guest who did want to come was thrown out. He was there, he responded, yet he was thrown out for not being prepared. I do not mind telling you that this part of the parable makes me very uncomfortable. Of course, we could interpret this to mean that when we come to Mass, we should be properly attired. And there is a point to that. If you were invited to eat dinner with the President of the United States, what would you wear? If you had an interview for a high-dollar job that you really wanted, how would you dress? If you were invited to be a participant in your friend’s wedding, would you wear flip flops and shorts to the feast? I don’t think so.
6. But this Gospel is more than just about clothing. The parable suggests to us that although the feast is freely given, there is some expectation of our personal commitment beyond merely showing up. Some theologians suggest that the wedding garment signifies baptism. Others have said that it represents good deeds. Still others offer that repentance is the key to understanding. It is all of these and more.
7. You see, the King giving this wedding feast is God the Father. And the groom is also God- His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The wedding garment is important because we are not just the guests- we’re the Bride.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello father,

It's quite lovely to be able to read your blog after sitting in a Mass you celebrated.

I have a few things I feel I need some direction on, is there a way I could reach you, either here or in email? I thought you might prefer to talk in person, but you seem to be so busy!

Thank you,
Another St Michael's Parishoner