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)
“And he was speechless.” And so am I, every time I encounter this text. I am standing beside this man who has been invited in off the street, who may well be hungry and enjoying a good meal for the first time in weeks. I don’t know if he is good or bad, since both kinds of people have been invited. And I can hardly imagine he is the only one without wedding apparel. I wouldn’t be wearing my fancy clothes if you called me in from the street! I wouldn’t be fully prepared and appropriately outfitted if God were to invite me for dinner unexpectedly!
I don’t understand the meaning of this text. I don’t know how the kingdom of heaven is like a king banishing a guest to the “outer darkness” for not wearing a jacket and tie. But, perhaps my indignation is enough. Perhaps my offense at the injustice of this act is what is here for me.
In this season of Advent, as we look for the coming of Christ, I hope my eyes and heart are open to see the one who is hungry, the one who is at risk of being cast out. For surely, that one may be the Christ I seek.
Loving God, you who long to gather everyone into your holy kingdom; help us to stand with the one who would be cast out. Help us to seek your mercy for ourselves and for the sake of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.