Our readings this Sunday give us a glimpse into the Kingdom of Heaven and offer us hope of salvation. Images of feasts, fatted calves, rich food, and choice wines, the Prophet Isaiah tells of a time when the Lord God will wipe away our tears, and destroy death forever. That promise remained for those to whom Jesus was speaking as he was making his way to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise. On the way he told yet another parable as to what the Kingdom of God is like. This time we meet an actual king who throws a lavish wedding feast for his son. In this teaching, Jesus reveals to us a God who invites all to the feast, once again, no one being excluded. This invitation is offered over and over as God is one who keeps inviting us, keeps reminding us of our place at the table.
The invitation is not for just a select few, those deemed as being worthy. Much to the surprise of the hearers, there is a place at the feast for those that the world labels as unworthy. The invitation includes those outcasts and on the margins; lepers, prostitutes, women caught in adultery, tax collectors and more.
There is even a place at the table for you and me. The good news is that the invitation is not only for the perfect, for if that were true, the table would be empty. Pope Francis in his apostolic letter Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) writes, “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the House of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.”
The parable has the banquet hall full of everyone, no matter where they came from, what they did, or what they failed to do. The same must be true for the Church. As Pope Francis reminds us, the Church is a “field hospital,” a place of healing and mercy, but far too often we can be a place of judgment and division. The invitation to the banquet is for everyone, even sinners like you and me.
We can question the meaning of the king tossing out the person who was seen as being inappropriately dressed. I think that Jesus is telling us with this action that it is not enough to simply accept the invitation, but that we must go deeper than that. It is not enough to say we are Christians; we are called to think, and speak, and act like Christians. That is the challenge of the Gospel that we are called to live when we accept the invitation to the feast.
- Father Dennis, October 11, 2020