“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son” (Mt 22:2).
Throughout the gospels Jesus not only talks about feasts, but is recorded as often celebrating table fellowship with others. Those he eats with, range from people who are considered sinners to the religious elite among the Pharisees.
There are a wide range of reactions to the invitation offered from the king through his servants. There are those caught up in their own lives, not able or willing to break away, there are those who reject the message outright and do so violently, by mistreating and even killing the servants of the king. Then others, the good and bad alike, say yes to the invitation.
God invites, but we must be willing to change our hearts and minds to see the invitation for what it is, an eternal gift. Those who refused, were unwilling to change their plans, as well as others who, with hearts of stone, were outright hostile, willing to abuse and even kill the servants.
Then there was man the king found who was present without the proper attire. This is not a literal indictment of not having the proper clothes, but the wedding garment imagery may be a recognition of a willingness to receive the benefits of the invitation without a yes to the responsibility involved with the invitation of transformation.
Our first reading from Ezekiel may be of help. God speaks through Ezekiel: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts” (Ezekiel 36:25-26). We are invited to change, to repent, to turn away from those idols, that which we have placed or put before God, to have our heart and spirit renewed. We are invited to be a part of God’s new creation by participating in the life of his Son, the first born of the new creation.
God the Father offered an invitation to an eternal banquet through his prophets, like Ezekiel, and it is being fulfilled through Jesus. This is an invitation that we can begin again. We can give up our old ways, we can receive a new heart and a renewed spirit. But we need to be willing to let go. We must be willing to be transformed, to change our hearts and minds, so to be perfected through our participation in the life of Jesus and perfected through the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit.
Our yes demands accountability, we can’t just show up, and take up space. As we are transformed, we must at the same time be willing to devote our time, discipline, talent and treasure to serving at the banquet and inviting others to attend. “Many are invited, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14). The first step is saying yes to the invitation. Letting go, embracing change, and being willing to be transformed is not easy, but we are not alone. Jesus accompanies us, as we are to accompany one another.
We have now been handed the invitation. How will we respond?
Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels
Link for the Mass readings for Thursday, August 23, 2018: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082318.cfm