A strange parable: a king invites a number of people to a wedding feast held for his son, the people refuse to come, some reacting even violently to the summons. Then he invites everyone he can find, “bad and good alike,” so that the feast may not be in vain and his son may not be dishonored. The king spots a man not dressed for the occasion and dramatically throws him out. What can we draw from this parable?
The first part of the parable refers to the end of time and the final judgement; in the latter part we can see a lesson regarding the importance of integrity, of coming to God wholly. The man was indeed invited, but he did not come to participate in the feast. Notice our Gospel says that the king addressed him as “My friend,” before asking why the man was not dressed for the occasion, at which point the man is “reduced to silence”: he had no excuse. The Gospel concludes with “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” This man was invited, but he was not chosen to enter the feast: what was his crime? Had he come to honor the son, to participate in the feast, he would have prepared himself: he would have attired himself as a wedding guest. His outsides betrayed his insides, and the king threw him out: the man was no friend at all.
Throughout the week we will be reflecting on the importance of integrity, of being whole people, such that our outsides—our words and actions especially—match our insides—our hearts and souls—for God desires our entire selves, not merely our actions, nor merely our faith. We are both body and soul, and the Son of God to Whose feast we are invited became man in order to redeem both. All are invited, but not all will sit at the table, not because our God is so exclusive, but because, by our own choice, we ultimately reject the invitation.
We have already been given our wedding garment: at our baptism we were clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27). This is the garment we are to wear to the feast; have we worn it faithfully, and constantly? Will it fit us when it comes time to enter the Lord’s house, having grown with us as we have grown in our faith, or will it be small, remaining as it was when we received it in the infancy of our faith, while we have since grown large on other things? Or have we misplaced that garment altogether? This parable carries some frightening images; none of us wants to relate to the man who is cast into the darkness.
Thankfully, the Father does not want any of us to suffer that man’s fate, and so He has given us the Mass as a foretaste of the Wedding Feast to come. “Behold the Lamb of God,” the priest says, showing us the Host and Chalice, “behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” We respond, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” At every Mass we prepare to receive Jesus into the temple of our bodies, seeking to welcome Him in the same manner we hope to be welcomed by Him when we enter under His roof. At every Mass Jesus, clothed in humility, in the outward appearance of food and drink, comes to us, attired not merely for supper, but as our supper, hoping that our hearts will be moved with love for Him who feeds us, to live according to the Life we have received.