ORDINARY 28 (A)
Many are invited, but few are chosen. – Mt. 22: 14
Notice in this parable that the bride is not mentioned, & that is not an oversight. It is the invited guests who are to be the bride – the feast is not for someone else’s wedding, but theirs. Yet they do not seem to appreciate this fact. Their own priorities seem more pressing to them.
We tend to regard our present moment as separate from rather than the beginning of our eternal existence. This is precisely the attitude that our Lord seeks to reverse in us. We, His followers, have received formal invitations to celebrate here & now, in the Kingdom of God on earth, the Good News of a gracious God who will never abandon us even in those moments when we think He has. Here is an old fable about a dog that was terribly proud of his ability as a runner:
One day, a rabbit he was chasing got away. It was a terrible embarrassment to the proud dog. It evoked a great deal of ridicule from the other dogs in the neighborhood because of all the boasting he had done. Still, he had a ready explanation for his defeat. He said, “You must remember that the rabbit was running for his life, while I was only running for my dinner.”
Whether we appreciate it or not, we are running for our lives too – our eternal lives, although we seem to think we are only running for our dinner. We often behave as if we had all the time in the world to accept the invitation to the heavenly banquet, but that is not the case. Nor is it enough to merely enter the banquet hall. Once there, we must have a wedding garment, that is to say, we must be ready for the adventure of spiritual development. To enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ through baptism is not the same as marrying it, as being in full communion with it. We must grow in grace & understanding or risk being excluded from the banquet. Baptism alone is not enough. We must unwrap the gift of faith handed down to us by others & appropriate it for ourselves, make it our own.
This will occur at a different pace for different people. Timing is everything. Some are attracted in their youth, some in the middle years, others in old age. Some come looking for succor after failure; some come in gratitude after success. Many come after death has knocked on their door & taken someone who ate at their table. Whatever the timing, we cannot say that eventually everyone will put on the wedding garment, nor can we be certain that some we know will definitely not.
Remember the old song “Clementine”? I learned it around a Boy Scout campfire. One verse goes like this: “Well, I went up to her cabin for to tell of Clementine. But when I did see her sister, I forgot my Clementine!” Abiding love or temporary infatuation? That is our choice. Do we accept our Lord’s invitation to marriage, or do we turn our heads in the direction of every passing allurement? Hasten to the banquet! Run for your life! AMEN!