October 15, 2023: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: 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 whoever 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.”
If you were invited to a royal wedding, how would you feel? Honored, perhaps? Worried about which fascinator to wear so as not to clash with your date’s cummerbund? What you probably wouldn’t feel is the negativity and apathy of the folks in this parable. There’s no logical reason for what they do – first refusing to come, then going so far as to kill the servants who have invited them! Pretty extreme stuff.
Yet don’t we do the same thing every day when we choose the busy-ness of life over our spiritual sides? Sometimes we need to remember that the “noise” of life is not as important as those things that anchor us to God.
And what about the guest who isn’t wearing a wedding garment? By ignoring protocol, he’s signaling that he’s there for a good time, not to honor his host and celebrate the marriage. Maybe there are opportunities in our own lives to which we are not fully committing. If so, make a plan to recommit yourself. What can you do to show the seriousness of your heart.
Parables can best be described as “stories with a message,” and they abound in the month of October. Every group, every family, has oft-repeated tales they regale themselves with, usually during holidays and special occasions. My mother loved to make us kids laugh with the story of Sonny Gorky, who, at her sister’s wedding reception, got greedy for the candy bars her brother-in-law was distributing (it was, after all, the middle of World War II, when chocolate was largely unavailable), and went back for seconds … then promptly ran headlong into a tree. What are your family or group’s “foundational” stories? What do they tell you about what your priorities and values are? (Clearly, laughter was an important factor in my family. Poor Sonny Gorky).