For us Filipinos and maybe in some other countries, our wedding invitation card, before it is sent out, the date, time and the Church venue of the wedding are stated. But in the normal Jewish customs, an invitation to a great feast like a wedding feast, when sent out, the time was not stated. Only after everything was ready the servants were sent out with a final summons to tell the wedding guests to come.
This Sunday continues the reflection on the Kingdom through another parable, where we hear a parable about a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. Those invited did not come for so many reasons, so in the end the king allowed the gates of his kingdom to be opened to all, and his hall was filled with guests.
In the gospel I found three words that struck me that may give lessons and enlighten us to see ourselves in relation with God. Let’s consider three I’s in our parable today.
The first I in today’s gospel reading is Invitation. Our Lord is inviting us to be with Him, to come to Him, to come to His Kingdom which is described like a wedding feast where everybody is with joyful faces and dressed in their best clothes. He invites us to be close to Him at all times. It is because if we are going to compare our Christian religion with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Voodoo religion and other world religions, in them it is the people who look for God, but in the case of Christianity, it is God who looks for us. This truth can be seen in some other parables of Jesus; that is, God who looks for the lost sheep and the lost coin. And so it is God who takes the first initiative for our salvation.
God is also inviting us to be always vibrant or alive, fresh and happy in our spiritual life. Whenever we fall or commit sin, make a good confession; Do not carry useless grudges and resentments in our hearts, but forgive. While we live, help, share, give and do good, express your love to everybody. Let people, especially our loved ones, know and feel our love for them. Take the “road less traveled,” the road of clean living, sanctity and holiness. Smile or do everything with joy and with love that seeks not recognition but God’s approval.
The second I for today’s gospel is Indifference. There was one saying that says, “the enemy of the good is best”. In other words, we are content with what is minimal. We don’t want to move in order to acquire the best. Those invited guests were not evil ones; they did not do bad things. One goes to his farm, another to his business. Any responsible person should attend to his livelihood and to his responsibilities, or else his family will suffer. Actually many good things go wrong in society because people neglect these. In Jesus’ time, a king enjoyed absolute power over people and refusing his invitation was an act of defiance and rebellion. Those who defied the order had to be crushed. In the parable, the king was unusually kind by extending a second invitation and stressing its urgency since everything was ready. But those invited chose to go by other priorities. They were indifferent to the invitation of the king who is God Himself. Imagine God Himself is inviting us and then we have the courage to say to God: ‘No I have other things and priorities to do.”
People choose to reject God and even many of us simply have no time for Him because we have other priorities which are not necessarily immoral like: our social obligations, the need for relaxation, the pressure of work, our time with our family, the demands of friends… which leave us no time for prayer or for Sunday Mass. It is easier for us to erase our regular prayer time schedule when it is in conflict with some other schedules. Sometimes what keeps us away from the joy of the kingdom is not sin, but preoccupation with the necessities of life. To be serious with our job is a good thing, but when our job keeps us away from attending the Lord’s Supper then it has become an obstacle. And the danger for us is that we may allow the affairs of this world, our business, our pleasures to blur our vision of the real goal in life. God is not taking away our time for work, recreation, and worldly pursuits. What He is asking is that we should not forget or neglect our spiritual needs.
To paraphrase our Lord’s words: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffers the loss of his family!”
The third I is Inappropriate, that is, inappropriately dressed. Maybe this person has a reason to give why he was not wearing wedding attire since he was taken in the street and brought to the wedding banquet due to the urgency of the invitation. But Jesus has another purpose why He mentions this. It is because some of us come to Mass, which is the banquet of the Lord, not literally improperly dressed, but rather are not properly disposed of. We are physically present but mentally absent. We think of other things. Are our spirits appropriately prepared for that beautiful banquet that God prepares for us?
On the other hand, in a deeper sense, the insistence on the wedding attire is a warning to each one of us, that if we do not accept God’s love, if we reject His gift, we can have no place with Him. That’s why, we have to stay prepared for the freely offered Heavenly Banquet, we must clothe ourselves in the dress of virtuous living, by wearing every day, the wedding garment of grace. Let’s “wear” the garment by cooperating with God’s grace in prayer, in attending Mass and receiving the Sacraments with devotion, in doing good and avoiding evil, and in responding to His love by lovingly sharing our blessings with others.
Today’s gospel sends a message to those of us who have accepted the invitation to come in. This parable warns us not to take God’s grace for granted, but to clean ourselves up and become the most beautiful person that we can be in God’s sight.