By Mgr Anthony Abela
Wedding invitation Mt 22:1-14 1 Jesus again used parables in talking to the people.
2 “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son.
3 He sent his servants to tell the invited guests to come to the feast, but they did not want to come.
4 So he sent other servants with this message for the guests: ‘My feast is ready now; my bullocks and prize calves have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast!’ 5 But the invited guests paid no attention and went about their business: one went to his farm, another to his shop, 6 while others grabbed the servants, beat them, and killed them.
7 The king was very angry; so he sent his soldiers, who killed those murderers and burnt down their city.
8 Then he called his servants and said to them: ‘My wedding feast is ready, but the people I invited did not deserve it.
9 Now go to the main streets and invite to the feast as many people as you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, good and bad alike; and the wedding hall was filled with people.
11 The king went in to look at the guests and saw a man who was not wearing wedding clothes.
12 ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ the king asked him. But the man said nothing.
13 Then the king told the servants: ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him outside in the dark. There he will cry and grind his teeth.’ ” 14 And Jesus concluded: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Other readings: Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 LECTIO Jesus’s listeners may well still be feeling battered by the Parable of the Wicked Tenants but he continues to reinforce the point, telling this parable to explain what the kingdom of heaven is like.
A king is preparing a wedding feast for his son. He sends his servants to tell the invited guests that everything is ready but the guests aren’t interested. They add insult to injury by abusing the king’s servants, even killing some of them. The king responds by burning down their city – probably an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
The king then instructs the servants to invite the “good and the bad alike” straight off the streets. The king comes to meet the guests. He discovers one man who is not wear ing wedding clothes and throws him out of the feast. Jesus concludes with the words: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Jesus doesn’t provide an interpretation of the parable but clearly the king is God and his son is Jesus. The Jewish leaders and people are first on the invitation list. The way the king’s servants are treated echoes the treatment of God’s prophets and repeats the actions of the tenants in the earlier parable. The invitation is then thrown wide open. There are plenty of examples in the Gospels where those who are considered “sinners” by the religious establishment become followers of Jesus. And now Gentiles as well as Jews are invited to the feast.
What are we to make of the guest not wearing wedding clothes? While “good and bad alike” are invited God does not expect us to stay that way. We can only be in God’s presence if we have received his holiness. If we reject God’s invitation we have to face God’s judgment and exclusion from his presence. The invitation is there. We both choose our response and are chosen by God.
MEDITATIO What is your response to Jesus’s invitation? Are you willing to accept or are you too busy?
Many people in Jesus’s day, including those who considered themselves religious, were actually spiritually blind and deaf. They failed to see God at work in Jesus. How can we stay spiritually alert?
What are the “wedding clothes” Jesus expects us to wear? Why do you think Jesus uses the image of a wedding feast for this parable?
ORATIO Use Psalm 23 as the basis for your prayers today.
CONTEMPLATIO Meditate on the wonderful picture of salvation that Isaiah paints in Isaiah 25:6-10.
Lectio divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word. These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are written by Mgr Anthony Abela and published by Bible Society. They can be downloaded free in several languages from Biblesociety.org.uk/ lectio. Bible Society is a charity that works towards a day when the Bible’s life-changing message is shaping lives and communities everywhere © 2008 United Bible Societies. Bible text Good News Translation, second edition © 1992 American Bible Society, New York