Today the readings want to encourage us to have the right attitude when coming before God. And that can be difficult as the first reading is telling us. There is a veil lying over the nations of the earth, is what Isaiah tells us in the first reading. And that is true, because we cannot see the world as God sees it. We have a limited understanding of the whole picture and we need to do the best we can. We need to serve God, exalt him, and love our neighbors. That is difficult when we don’t have the whole picture but nevertheless, we have to try. And in the second reading St. Paul tells us to rejoice, be reasonable, not be anxious but be content in every situation (good or bad). St. Paul did not have an easy life but he trusted in Christ. He had that faith that moves mountains: “I can do all things through him that strengthens me”. He followed Christ all the way in serving God and our neighbor. That is the red line to goes through the scripture verses of today. It is not just enough to show up and come before God. NO! We must do what he wants us to do.
That line continues in the Gospel. In chapter twenty-second of his Gospel Matthew gives us the parable of the wedding feast. Here Christ compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a great marriage feast. Christ tells about the king that who holds a wedding feast for his son. But those invited do not want to come. They make up all kinds of excuses, so he invites others. But one of the guests does not wear the right garment so he let us his servants kick him out. A lot of the things happen in the parable. So, let us see what lessons we can draw from this parable? First thing is that we need to know who the king is. That is not too hard. The King is God Himself who invites us. The marriage is a symbol for the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The feast symbolizes Christ's Church, which exists, in heaven and on earth. At first the king invites the people of the old covenant, the Jews, to join this great marriage feast. That means to come into the new covenant, which is the Church. But they failed to accept the invitation of Christ, twice. They are too busy with earthly things. Just like many people in our days are too busy with earthly things like politics.
St. John Chrysostom said once that "when spiritual things call us, there is no business whatsoever that has the power of necessity." So there is nothing more important than our spiritual life. When Christ persists with His invitations to the Jews, they kill Him, just as they killed the Old Testament Prophets. Christ tried to win them over, however, they refused Him. So, the ordinary people of the "highways" are invited. These represent the Gentiles, since the wedding feast, the Church, must be filled. Because the Jews refuses, God called others…. He called you and me. As you remember, the king sends his troops to kill the servants. St. John Chrysostom writes, that less than four decades after Christ's Ascension, Jerusalem fell to the armies of Vespasian and Titus, The city was destroyed and the people that survived were scattered to the four corners of the earth. The question would be, was Matthew telling us something he knew already, because he writes after the fall of Jerusalem. Or was it a direct prediction from Christ regarding the fall of Jerusalem?
Christ, has summoned us to His feast, which is to His Church. On every wedding you partake in food and drink. So also in Christ’s wedding feast. There we may partake of His sacred foods,—the Holy Mysteries—His Body and His Blood. This prepares us spiritually for eternal life with Him on the Wedding Feast of the Church in Heaven. But, for this feast we must prepare, we need to clothe ourselves with the proper garment. If not, we shall be cast into the outer darkness. This garment is, of course, a spiritual one. Without that spiritual attitude of being prepared, we are no better than those who rejected and crucified Christ. Our unpreparedness would be a form of rejection. And that my brother and sisters, would be a gross insult to the King which is God. So in the end we would not be better than those that rejected him in the first place. We have been invited to partake of the feast and we have accepted the invitation. When we attend Mass, we share in the feast that Christ the King has prepared for us. In that way we prepare ourselves for the wedding feast in the life to come. We prepare ourselves to meet our King and God by developing within ourselves this virtue of charity. We will only sit on the Table in Gods Kingdom if we acquire selfless love, a love that is in the end not selfish.
Our spiritual garment is woven, within two beams. One is the love for God, and one is the love for our neighbor. One must love God with his whole soul, and heart, and strength. It must be a total commitment. And the other is love for our neighbor. But this not just about a shallow romantic love. No, this is about the Agape love. We need to love our neighbor as God loves us. We need to love our enemy as God loves us. That is what it means to have true charity! That is what the wedding garment is all about. St. Gregory says: “whoever sits down at the wedding feast without it, let him watch with fear, for when the King comes in, he shall be cast forth." We can only obtain selfless love to make the other Christian virtues our own. If you come to the feast, the Eucharist, with hate in your heart for any of your brothers and sisters, you do not wear the right garment. If you come to church with a cold faith, you do not wear the right garment. If you come to the table for social reasons, then you are, spiritually speaking, not dressed in a wedding garment pleasing to the King. Christ ends His parable with the words, "Many are called, but few are chosen." It is the very nature of God, that only those who acquired selfless love may spend eternity with Him. It is only those that have acquired the right attitude that are entitled to receive the boundless love that radiates from God. He chooses those who have acquired some form of selfless love. Few, indeed, are chosen.
But we should not be discouraged, because with God there is always mercy. God's mercy is wondrous and that it is never too late. Whatever the circumstances of our lives are, we can begin now to prepare our wedding garments for the encounter with the King. Now is the time to begin weaving our garments and love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Now is the time to seek that selfless love and clothe ourselves with that sacred wedding garment, which gives us entry to the eternal wedding feast. Amen.