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Matthew 22:1-14

The Word of God

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Matthew 22:1-14
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    • This parable tells a very strange story: all those who received the invitation to the king’s banquet not only refused to attend but treated the messengers very badly. The king was not to be stopped: he sent his servants to the crossroads and they gathered ‘all they could find, good and bad alike’. The hall was full. God’s invitation to partake in his great banquet is not restricted to the Jews, his kingdom is now open to all, without any distinction, even to those who seem unworthy. I stand and wonder at God’s goodness and mercy towards all. I ask to be like the Father in his mercy and generosity.
    • But the text also underlines the link between the kingdom and judgement: the first guests were punished for their crass behaviour, and the guest without the proper attire was expelled from the banquet and sent to where there is darkness and the gnashing of teeth. By not accepting the Kingdom I am excluding myself from it. I ask for the grace to be consistent in my choices, a person of integrity.
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    • Give some time as you start your prayer to noticing the immense hospitality of this king. ‘Invite everyone you find to the wedding!’ he says. That is God’s attitude to everyone on earth, and to you. Be grateful for this.
    • What of the man without a wedding robe? This part of the story is to highlight that we need to fill our lives with loving action. It is not a preview of eternal punishment, because God loves everyone even when they don’t reciprocate.
    • God, you are always looking out for us and inviting us to fill the place that is set precisely for us. Let me pray and work for the good of others so that there my be no gaps at your wedding banquet, and that I too may be there.
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    • The parable of the wedding in today’s gospel was spoken when Jesus saw that his own people were moving to reject him. The story is symbolic. But the invitation to us is a real one. It is an invitation to aim at the good life. The invitation to the kingdom of heaven is cast wide, yet we are free to say yes or no. No matter how low a stature I seem to have in life, I am welcome. I will shake off the rags of my injustice, my less good self and dress in the clothes of a new, more loving person.
    • I ask God to help me to respond as best I can to this real invitation. Is a quiet voice whispering to me from within?
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