In the Gospel reading for this Sunday we hear about the king sending his servants out to call all those who were invited to come to his son’s wedding but none of the invited guests would come. So the king told his servants to go out and invite everyone on the road to come to the wedding feast. Jesus tells the parable because his ways have been criticized by the “chief priests and elders of the people.” They have rejected him so now he turns to everyone on the road and he welcomes the poor, sinners, and outsiders. Matthew emphasizes, not only the importance of the meal, but the urgent need we have to respond to God’s invitation to his feast. In the parable those who did respond to the invitation, “bad and good alike,” did so with enthusiasm. They knew a good thing when they heard it and so grasped it immediately, filling the banquet hall just as the king had wanted for his son. Today all of us who say we are Christians are also invited to the wedding feast and this is a pointer towards our participation in the life of the Church especially going to Mass and taking part in the sacramental life of the Church. We hold precious the image of God who calls the good and the bad to the banquet of life that leads to eternal life.
The expectation is that we will prepare ourselves now by being dressed appropriately for the occasion. Perhaps the best description of the proper wardrobe for a Christian is given to us by the apostle Paul. If we wear the clothes he describes the clothes of compassion, kindness humility, gentleness and patience we will never be thrown out of any banquet. In Colossians he tells us You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience… Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. (Colossians 3:12-15)
This weekend’s parable reminds us that God’s invitation is his gift to us, and it is given to us so that we can freely accept or ignore it. Those who were gathered in from the highways and byways had no claim on the king (God). We, too, have no claim on God, We do not merit God’s invitation on our own. It is a grace God lovingly offers to each and every one of us. Hopefully all of us will be able to accept the invitation to come to the feast.