During these past weeks in the Gospel, Jesus has been telling many parables to teach those around him about Heaven. This parable reference is naturally to the New Testament’s marriage supper of the Lamb, and we observe that the parable clearly intends to portray Israel’s spiritual indifference to the invitation in the sharpest way, culminating in their killing the messengers of the covenant. The imagery of a wedding banquet turns to the serious message when the man without the proper wedding clothes is not merely thrown out of the banquet, but is bound hand and foot, and cast into darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This is obviously the judgment scene that Jesus repeated so often with these very words. Thus the banquet is the celebration of those who enter the kingdom, and the exclusion is the judgment of God for those who reject the invitation of grace.
There are three natural stages in the story. The invitation refused, the second invitation violently opposed, and the invitation given to any who would come.
In our day the invitation goes out from the Church by the Spirit through the Church: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’.” And whosoever wills may come and drink of the water of life freely. Those who refuse, whether violently opposed to Christ, or pretending to be in Christ, will have no part in the kingdom, but will be cast into outer darkness.
This is the message of the Gospel, the good news. The Church must carry the invitation to the world, even if the world might refuse the invitation, or even treat them violently and kill them.
The story makes it clear that there is no reason, none at all, for people to reject a gracious invitation from the King to come to the wedding feast and enjoy all good things. The only reason they reject the invitation is that they do not believe the King, or they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. But since this is a call from the King, from God Himself, the people are not free to take it or leave it, even if they think they can be non-committal. To reject the invitation of God to share in the Kingdom is folly–it is to choose death; or, to reject the offer of grace is to reject God’s only provision for eternal life.
Fr. Anthony E. Camilleri