On the Gospel of Matthew 22:1-14
28th Sunday of the Year
Today’s Gospel is both an invitation to God’s love and a history lesson in salvation. The Gospel is divided into two parts; first the wedding; with God sending out His invitation and the second sees a man being thrown out of the wedding for not wearing his wedding garment. So what does this mean?
The wedding that the King has invited his guests to is God calling us to His love, and a covenant with Him. God sent out his invitation and people, namely His chosen people, failed to return that love to God. They turned from him and rejected this invitation to love and unity with Him. They were interested in themselves alone. Then the servants are sent again to fetch the people. These are the prophets, but they were killed and persecuted by those who failed to hear the invitation.
The wedding is the marriage of God and His people, when His Son became flesh and dwelt amongst us. The servants that are now being sent out to gather up as many people as they can, and bring them to the wedding. Here we see the work of the Church. We are all invited, no matter who we are, where we are from, sinner or believer, good, bad or indifferent. God is waiting for us at the wedding feast. He is waiting for us to accept His invitation. It is up to us to accept that invitation and attend.
This leads us into the second part of the Gospel. The guests have arrived and there was a man without his wedding garment. (This garment is a special garment worn at Jewish weddings and is an insult if not worn). In our reading this garment may be compared to the sacraments. We cannot just arrive at God’s Church and not fully participate. We must receive the sacraments, and drape ourselves in the garment of them, and live according to what Christ asks of us.
In one of her letters (dated 5 Dec 1553), St. Catherine de’Ricci, OP, compares the stages of the journey of the soul to the act of draping oneself. She describes how God sends His graces to each of us so that we can use them to journey back to Him. These graces she describes as ‘draperies’, graces which cover and strengthen us and make us more open to God and His way, and more aware of how to live as He wants us to. Each of these graces (these draperies) comes together to help form one garment, a soul in union with God, the ultimate end of all our prayer. We must attend Mass, and meet Christ in the sacraments. If we think that not living this way is right then we must think again.
While all are invited, we must listen for that invitation, respect it and allow ourselves to be immersed into God’s love. We must receive the garments of the sacraments in the way which Christ has called us to do so. The question is are we willing to accept the invitation and wear the garment?
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
– Matthew 22:1-14