Two Sundays ago, we read about the parables of the “Two Sons” (21:28-32) and the “Wicked Tenants” (21:33-39). Today, Matthew continued with the parable of the Wedding Feast. These parables deal with rejection of God and his plan of salvation by humanity. However, it is worth knowing that Matthew used these parables to address his community about the dangers of rejecting the good news of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, today’s Gospel is not just confronting but challenging too. The parable of the Wedding Feast seems to be two parables weaved into one story totally different from the same parable in Luke’s Gospel (Lk. 14:16 – 24). Luke’s version of this parable did not mention the destruction of the city and the man without a wedding garment. I think in our society today people will prefer the Lukean version of this parable to Matthew’s version.
In Matthew’s account we flinch when we read the treatment of the man in verses 11- 14. It seems so unfair that the poor man was punished for not having the proper garment. There could be many fantastic reasons why he was unable to be in the appropriate attire. However, when understood in the first century context, the actions of the King were not completely unjustified. Because, it was the custom in Ancient Near East that quests at weddings wear the wedding garment which symbolized their respect for the host and the occasion.
If looked at with the eyes of faith, the wedding garment in our own era stands for the Christian life, and the qualities that lead one to hear God’s invitation, to accept it and to honour God.
The gospel challenges us to look into our hearts and ask ourselves if we are responding to God’s call in our life. Are we wearing the wedding garment? This garment is, of course, a spiritual one-the Christian virtues. At baptism we all were clothed in white cloth that symbolises Christ and we were tasked to wear it unstained. St. Gregory the Dialogist, referring to the wedding garment, writes that “the wedding garment symbolizes the virtue of charity.” When we gather in the Church each Sunday, how do we prepare ourselves to encounter God in the Word and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist? God has extended the divine invitation to all of humanity: Jews and Gentiles, it is certainly an invitation of grace. But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. Grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.