You Are Cordially Invited

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

October 11, 2020 – Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:1-14

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In my extended family we recently celebrated a wedding. My nephew was the groom. A few of those closest to the couple were present at the ceremony, all masked and socially distanced. I was “present” via Zoom, at home, as were many others. The wedding was originally planned for a large group. But given the situation with COVID-19, the numbers had to be limited.

Thus, what was originally to be a large and gala event had to be modified. A new kind of celebration took place. The families and friends of the bride and groom respected the public health measures now in place. It wasn’t the kind of celebration that was originally planned. Still, it was a joyful spiritual event for all, those close by and those distanced.

I was reminded of this wedding celebration as I read today’s gospel about another wedding feast. Jesus used the image of a wedding to describe God’s Kingdom. But not just your average run-of-the-mill wedding. This wedding was arranged by the king himself. His son was to be married. Such a wedding would be at the top of the social calendar of the many who were invited. Imagine what it would be like. All the important people of the realm would be there. There would be delicious food and drink for all. Lots of music and dancing. It could be the most important social event of the year. Maybe of the decade.

We know what happened. And it was something that greatly bothered the king – and likely his son. Those who were originally invited said they did not want to attend. The king repeated his invitation by reminding them that there would be ample food for all. They still said, no. The king was infuriated. To him this made no sense whatsoever. So, the king tore up the original list of invitees and told his servants to invite “whoever they met.” In other words, open wide the doors to the feast. Everyone was welcome. And to those who were originally invited, well, deal with them harshly.

What can we take from this parable? In general, it states that God’s invitation to enter the Kingdom of God is now open to all. That’s an absolute. In Matthew’s Gospel, special mention is made of God’s invitation to tax collectors and sinners. Recall that Matthew himself was a tax collector, a generally despised occupation in those days. If we ever think we are unworthy of God’s love and care, think again. If we wonder if God’s invitation is limited to only a few. That’s not the case. We are all invited.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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