Sunday, October 15
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 22: 1 – 14
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.
The king 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.”
Do you know why St. Peter is bald? The story says: When Jesus walked with, ate with, and taught the disciples, Peter would frequently get a very confused look on his face, scratch his head and say, “What?” Legend has it, that because Peter did this so often, it caused his baldness!
Today we have a “What?” and “Scratch your head” kind of Gospel passage.
“The kingdom of heaven is like…” Then Jesus speaks about a king (don’t equate this king with God. I think he could use a few anger management sessions!) Sometimes, you have to go beyond the outside words of a parable and peek underneath to find the nugget of truth presented to us. Underneath all the outside words of this passage, is an invitation to come to the feast and put on a wedding garment. Each and every one of us is invited to the banquet. We all are invited to come and share in the life of God.
In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we heard what it will be like on the Holy Mountain of the Lord. It will be for all peoples, all nations, and for the whole earth. It is a global invitation. “Go out into the streets and invite people to the wedding feast.” Everyone is invited to share in the life of God: regardless of what religion we embrace, or nationality, or political persuasion, or economic standing, or gender or age, or sexual persuasion – everyone is invited to share in God’s life.
What about the wedding garment? It is a metaphor of how we will be recognized as people who have accepted the invitation. Putting on the wedding garment is an essential and non-negotiable piece of accepting the invitation. How will others know if you have accepted the invitation? What will they notice? They will know us by the wedding garment.
When you (and I) accept the invitation and put on the wedding garment then the poor are fed, the naked are clothed, the homeless find shelter, the Earth is cared for, the prisoner and the sick are visited and the dead are buried. We will be known as accepters of the invitation, when justice is pursued, forgiveness is accepted and given, and everyone is recognized as being brother and sister to each other. When we reject or decline the invitation to share in God’s life, then injustice, poverty, self-interest, extreme notions of patriotism and religious elitism abound.
If you watched any of the horrific and heroic events of the Las Vegas shooting, you most undoubtedly were moved. As the stories unfolded, we saw the invitation accepted and the invitation rejected. We saw the best and the worst of humanity.
So, what is it going to be for you? Will you accept the invitation AND wear the wedding garment so that others will recognize you? You might want to spend time with the picture. What do you notice? What feelings or thoughts does it evoke in you?
Sister Teresa Tuite, OP