Gospel of Matthew 22:1-14
How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?
Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’
This parable is obviously allegorical. Jesus is going to great lengths to describe the nature of the kingdom of God. The way we are called to live with each other in community is to be welcoming, inclusive and generous in hospitality. There is nothing life-giving outside of the kingdom of God. If we choose to disconnect from love, the consequences are destructive.
Today I am drawn to the ‘friend without a wedding garment’, since the consequences for him are so full of drama and horror. At first I felt sorry for him but soon after I felt deeply disturbed. To put on the wedding garment was to enter into the ceremony and meaning of the event. This man refuses to wear it and even when questioned by ‘God’ remains silent. This seems to be a reflection of people who knowingly enter into a community in order to help themselves selfishly to the generosity offered but with no intention of allowing their hearts to be touched, let alone offering respect to those who have invited them. There is a complete lack of sincerity in this man.
Mary Ward valued sincerity immensely. She defined it as “that we be such as we appear and appear such as we are.”
Every Gospel has an invitation for the receiver. In my prayer, I reflect on the sadness and disturbance I feel for the man and discover an invitation for a deeper conversion of heart and understanding of sincerity; a call for integration of those aspects of the self towards the wholeness God reveals as possible. This is discovered through encounters of God’s love. The Gospel reminds me of how God desires all aspects of me, especially my heart which is made for love and community.
In my prayer, I reflect on sincerity and wholeheartedness in the light of God’s extraordinary invitation of love.