The Marriage Feast – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The parable of the marriage feast features in today’s Gospel reading. This is a good elaboration on the Isaiah reading about the messianic banquet. On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
Even the Psalm helps. You prepare a table before me … you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Matthew tells us that everything has been prepared for the wedding banquet, waiting for people to come and enjoy. These are all good images for this Thanksgiving weekend.
Jesus’ parable begins with the call to the invited guests. They would not come, despite a second insistence. Then the outcasts are invited, seemingly just for the purpose of filling the hall with live bodies. But the king was not happy, possibly for the sake of his son. Then he was aghast and speechless at seeing an attendee without a wedding garment.
The proper garments for the wedding feast? It is difficult to avoid thinking of the proper garment for all of life in 2020: a face covering, at the very least. I’m not sure that any of us advocate binding the mask-less person and casting them out into the darkness. We might offer a piece of our mind about carelessness and the possibility of exposing us to harmful droplets
In the case of the parable, scripture scholars tell us that the wedding garment represents a converted life full of good deeds. Sinners are certainly invited, but the assumption is that they will repent of their ways. The fact is that God’s invitation to the messianic banquet is for all of us, whether or not we have the proper garment, and whether or not we are free from sin and imperfection.
There are many who spurn the invitation. And many of us say yes to the invitation, but fail to show it in our way of living. I am called to live out what I claim to believe in. But do I really live it out? It’s the recurring question behind so much of what we hear from Jesus: Does the Gospel make a difference in how I live my life?
Do I raise my children with attentiveness to Christian values? Do I teach my students in a just and loving manner? Is the Gospel reflected in how I make decisions about causes I support or organizations to which I donate time and money? Is the Gospel reflected in how I speak of other people or relate to the marginalized or the foreigner?
The question is particularly challenging for people such as politicians. Firstly, that member of parliament is elected to represent everyone in her riding, not just Christians. And our world has become very complicated. Politicians often walk a tightrope when they try to let their faith life dictate how they vote. It is inevitable that they will make compromises.
It’s helpful for us to ponder our own response to that question of the difference the Gospel makes in our life.