This is a strange story: why would invited guests not come to a king’s wedding feast? In our time, any celebrity who throws a party can expect everyone to come, the invited along with the uninvited. People want to see and be seen at notable occasions. Certainly, a royal wedding qualifies as a must-see event.
But in this story people do the remarkably inappropriate thing: they snub the king. And when the king practically begs them to come a second time, some of those invited do violence to their messengers. This is such an incredible response, we recognise that Jesus is referring to the response to himself and to prophets who came before him. No one would behave this way to a king, his son, and his servants, Jesus is saying. And yet you behave this way to God, God’s son, and the prophets.
As listeners to this story, we have a choice. We can be like those invited who don’t bother to go, or who retaliate with rage. We can come without preparation. Or we can have something to say for ourselves if caught poorly clad at God’s feast. ‘O God, have mercy on me, a sinner,’ is a good prayer to have on hand.
Which role do you see yourself playing in the parable of the wedding feast?
Dine in God’s house this week. Feed the hungry, share a meal with someone who needs you, and don’t forget the Eucharist.
(Matthew 22: 1-4, 14 The Parable of the Wedding at Cana)
Jesus responded by telling still more stories. ‘God’s kingdom,’ he said, ‘is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come! He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’… That’s what I mean when I say, ‘Many are invited; only a few make it’’.
Kelly, a teenage girl on holiday with her parents, was having a horrible time. And her face and her posture let everyone know it. All week long she’d moped by the resort’s pool – alone with her mobile phone.
On the last night, her parents convinced Kelly to join them for the evening entertainment. It was square dance night, and the teenager groaned and glared at her parents when she saw the old guy with the checkered shirt and string tie up on the bandstand calling out the do-si-does. The old guy spotted her reaction and was up for the challenge. With a twinkle in his eye he waltzed up to her and said, ‘You’ll be my partner’. She resisted at first, but soon he had her doing the ‘allemande left with your left hand,’ and the Texas Star, and all sorts of other twists and turns. At one point Kelly even threw her head back and laughed out loud. Her parents felt they’d finally experienced the holiday they’d been so looking to.
We’re all invited to the dance, the banquet, the wedding feast of life. And thankfully, there are people we meet along the way who help us get outside ourselves and out on the dance floor where the Lord of the dance awaits.
Richard and Judy were invited to the palace to meet the queen to enjoy sharing in the beauty of the surroundings and to take part in a banquet. It was a most generous invitation and they wondered what they had done to deserve it. In fact, it was sent out because of the love of the queen. They showed lots of people the invitation with pride. They put it where it could be seen in their house. Most days they looked at it and said how wonderful it was. They had advance warning of the date and slowly it came near. One day Judy looked at her calendar and said, ‘Oh, I’m supposed to get my hair done today – what shall I do?’ Richard replied, ‘That’s OK. Just go ahead. I fancy doing some gardening’. For all their talk and show, they counted the invitation with very little value. By excusing themselves, they excluded themselves.
‘Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice!’
We will rejoice with kind thoughts, and gentle acts;
we will rejoice as we pray hopefully, and act carefully;
we will rejoice as we hold the example of the saints before us;
we will rejoice when life is wonderful, and when life is a trial.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
GPBS © (2023)