by Fr. Tommy Lane
We like being invited to social occasions. We enjoy the good company, the fellowship and of course the fine food. There is one feast to which we are all invited, the greatest feast of them all, the banquet in heaven. Jesus issued this invitation in the form of the parable in our Gospel today (Matt 22:1-14) to the chief priests and Jewish elders. The king, i.e. God the Father, gave a feast for his son’s wedding; Jesus is the groom wedded to the Church. The Book of Revelation describes the Church as the Bride of Jesus the Lamb (Rev 19:7; 21:2).
For this wedding, the king sent his servants i.e. the prophets of the Old Testament to invite people to the wedding but they would not come (Matt 22:3). The Chosen People were not living faithfully according to the Covenant.
The king sent more servants but they would not listen to them and mistreated them and killed some of them, i.e. God the Father sent more prophets but they would not listen to them and in fact they mistreated those prophets and killed some of them. (Matt 22:4)
As a result the king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. This could be a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 AD. (Matt 22:7)
Then the king said, “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.” (Matt 22:8-9) We could see this as a reference to the Church in the first century becoming less and less Jewish and more and more Gentile. The Chosen People largely rejected the invitation from Jesus, unfortunately, but huge numbers of us, non-Jews, Gentiles, flocked into the Church. As Jesus said in our Gospel parable today, all those found on the streets would be invited into the Church.
Reading our beautiful Psalm (Ps 23:6) in the context of today’s readings gives it new meaning, we can see it referring to Jesus. Jesus invites us to a banquet, the Eucharist, and goodness and love will pursue us all the days of our life and we look forward to dwelling in the house of the Lord for eternity. (Ps 23:6)
The prophecy of Isaiah in our first reading was about God preparing a banquet for all people (Isa 25:6-10), a banquet of fine wine. While it could refer to the feast at the end of time in heaven I think we could see it also referring to what God did for us in Jesus through the Church. As more and more Gentiles entered the Church the Lord removed the veil covering all peoples. Isaiah’s word from God was that in the future not just the Jews would be the Chosen People but all peoples would be chosen and invited to God’s banquet. At this banquet prepared for all peoples Isaiah saw a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. This prophecy of fine wine was fulfilled in the very first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana when Jesus changed the water into wine (John 2:1-11). When Jesus performed the miracle at Cana it meant the Old Testament prophecies about the future Messiah were now beginning to be fulfilled and after Pentecost all peoples would be welcomed into the Church to taste this wine.
Even though Isaiah’s prophecy about all being invited to taste the wine in the banquet (Isa 25:6) of the Church open to all people is now fulfilled, there is a warning at the end of the parable in the Gospel. The king noticed someone at the wedding banquet not wearing the wedding garment and ordered him to be thrown out (Matt 22:11-14). We can understand this to mean that the man was not living a good life, he was not living like one invited by God to his banquet. In the Book of Revelation we are told that the Bride of the Lamb, the Church, wears a clean white linen garment which is the righteous deeds of the holy ones (Rev 19:8). Yes we are all invited to the feast in the kingdom of heaven but we are to come to the feast properly dressed, living good lives that show we are worthy to be invited to that feast.
Since the prophecy of Isaiah is now fulfilled in the lives of each of us here because we have entered the Church, what remains for us to ponder is if we are properly clothed, if we are wearing the proper wedding garment for the feast, i.e. if we are living good Christian lives. If we are not properly clothed, not living good Christian lives, God in his great mercy has given us the means of washing our clothes, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation we take off our old clothes and put the new clothes of the grace of Christ. The thinking is common now that we will all go to heaven; we are all invited to heaven but as we heard in our Gospel we need to be properly dressed, living a good life, to be granted admittance to the kingdom (Matt 22:11-14). The letter to the Colossians gives us advice about what clothes a Christian is to put one. What clothes did you put on this morning? I conclude with this excerpt from the Letter to the Colossians chapter 3:12-14,
Put on then, as God’s chosen
ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
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