A brief homily that I prepared for today’s Divine Liturgy at St. Joseph’s Melkite Catholic Church, Fairfield, VIC, Australia – Collin
In today’s Gospel passage, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a marriage feast. And in the context of Jesus’ parable today, the marriage feast is an image of rejoicing and communion with God. The idea from the marriage feast comes from Isaiah 25:6 – 9, where the salvation of God is portrayed as a joyful banquet. By using the context given to us by the Prophet Isaiah, we can slowly uncover the Gospel of today.
The King is God our Heavenly Father, and He is preparing to celebrate the marriage of His Son Jesus Christ to the Jewish nation, and subsequently His Church. Such an elaborate and generous feast He has prepared for them, and He sends His servants (prophets) to tell them about this great feast; but no – they decide to shrug it off, go about their business, and even killed the prophets. For some of you that are not aware, the prophets of the Old Testament were killed by those who rejected God’s Word. This greatly angered Our Father, and He punished these people greatly for their transgressions. And it was here, our God had decided – My Son is ready to be married; invite all you can find on the street! Tell the good news to everyone; both bad and good, both Jew and Gentile, go out to people of all nations, and more importantly – you and me!
People answered the call to the feast and the hall was filled with guests, but hold on – some of us chose not to wear a “wedding garment” – in other words, we didn’t fulfil our part of the “wedding agreement” by disobeying God, dishonouring our baptismal vows, and also not living what we have been called to. We chose to be at this wedding feast, but we couldn’t abide by one single condition. So, our Father says “for many are called, and few are chosen”.
Looking back, what is so significant about the wedding garment and the “punchline” of today’s Gospel to us?
Don’t worry, God is not mean! From the sounds of it, this King was a generous king, so if a poor person who entered the wedding feast didn’t have one, he could have asked for one and it would have been given to Him. But bringing this back to reality, we are like those people who did not have wedding garments, and for some of us, we chose NOT to refuse those wedding garments. In other words, we chose not to repent. We chose not to live the call of the Gospel. We chose not to do good works. We chose not to confess our sins. We chose not to fast, we chose not to pray, or we chose not to attend Liturgy on Sunday. In short, we chose not to do build our hearts up to love! Instead, we chose to live our faith on our terms – we do as we please instead of fulfilling the call.
When we refuse to put on the wedding garment, we fail to put into effect the words “all of you who have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ” because what good is it to put on Christ and do nothing about it? What good is it to say we are Christian and we believe in Jesus Christ, but not actually live it; faithfully?
Coming back to the image of the wedding banquet, we can now safely ask ourselves – am I ready to put on this “wedding garment” of obedience and faithfulness to God, and be in a Christian in all that I do? Whether I am at work, or at university, at school, or even at home? Am I reaching out to my neighbour and my friend, who might need me?
While we may not see it, the word “love” is at play here, as God first loved us to desire all of us to be at this wedding banquet. If we can’t respond to that call of love, just as God first loved us, then, as St. Paul says, “I am nothing”. So, let us seek God, and ask Him to help search for our “wedding garments” within our souls and live out the Christian life. Additionally, as the Gospel ends with the statement, “for many are called, but few are chosen”, the question for us is, are all of us ready to tread down that narrow path? Everyone is part of the Church, but can all of us tread down that narrow path?