St. Paul in the second reading today, talks about how to live with abundance and knowing how to live in humble circumstances as well. Many people these days are having to make that shift from living in abundance to living more humbly. One day you may have wealth in the stock market and the next day have a significant portion of it gone. As St. Paul tells us, "I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me." That is his secret of coping with the volatility of life. Is it ours?
We seem to live in a culture that is not used to "doing without". Perhaps one of the messages we need to learn today is the message of being "poor in spirit"---of being totally dependant on God and his promise to be with us at all times. It would be interesting to look around your home along with your family and ask the question, "Could we live without this?"
At any wedding reception there are of course 2 main people---the groom and the bride. In a wedding the groom and the bride give of themselves to each other totally and completely. Each other is ready and willing to accept totally what the other has to offer to them. Wedding feasts symbolize a new beginning, a new start, moving beyond the past into an uncharted future, accepting new challenges and knowing there will be difficulties along the way. What can be more intimate than the traditional wedding night? What can be more accepting while at the same time more vulnerable? Both the bride and groom are saying to each other, "I am here for you forever."
Some of the parables of Jesus leave us with questions---this morning is no different. There is a new beginning taking place. The master summoned the invited guests to the banquet. The invited quests were the Jewish Leaders of the time---and they refused to come They refused to accept the new beginning that Jesus came to establish. Since those invited refused to come the servants were directed to go out to the streets and invite everyone they saw. We are all invited to accept the new beginning which Jesus is bringing in our life. We are all invited to let go of the past and embrace the new. If we come unprepared as was the last guest in the story----this guest did not have the proper attire----we may be rejected. What started out as a rejection of the Jewish Leadership ends with a rejection of the individual who was unprepared. It was the custom at the time for the wedding host to provide garments for the guests to wear at the wedding feast. To not wear the wedding garment provided showed a lack of respect and appreciation.
How do we apply this parable of Jesus to the times in which we live? Who are those invited guests---those on the "A" list of invitations who refuse to come to the wedding feast prepared to celebrate this new beginning of life? Even after a second invitation they still refuse to come. Once again Jesus issues the invitation to all. ALL are welcomed to the wedding feast. ALL have been properly attired in their own wedding clothing. We each have what we need in order to accept the call from Jesus to come and follow him. To be chosen to enter the supreme wedding feast I only need to recognize the gifts I have been given and to use those gifts as they are for me. In strong language Jesus depicts the king throwing out the guest not properly attired.
Many are invited to the wedding feast. There is a challenge to accept the invitation. The leaders of the day did not accept the invitation. Their land was destroyed---perhaps the foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It is not only the leaders who are invited but everyone is invited. However the price of admission is to wear the wedding gown given to you.
Are you ready to feast at the great banquet of Jesus? Are you ready to use the gifts given to you? As we say in the baptism prayers, "You put on Christ". You are clothed with your wedding garment for the rest of your life. Jesus knows the gifts we each have been given---Jesus knows the wedding garment in which we have been clothed---the invitation has been offered.
Will you go to the feast prepared for you? Will you stay home and busy yourself with other things?