What are you wearing to the wedding feast?
Food, glorious food! Feast, glorious feast! Festival, glorious festival! This week’s readings speak of celebration, but more so the providence of God for a people in need.
This glorious God spares nothing to provide for His people and to make sure that His people can all partake of the wedding banquet. Isaiah had seen that God would stop at nothing to provide for His people and to make sure that His people could come to the wedding banquet unencumbered by any hindrances, “… this is our God; we looked to him, and he saved us!” Indeed, this Shepherd God had provided for and had protected His people – even from death!
So why should we refuse to come to His banquet? He has prepared the best for us – “A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” He wants us all to share His best with Him and, like the king had done when he was ignored, “He dispatched his servants (the prophets) to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.”
Then he humbled himself again and virtually begged his invited guests to come to the wedding feast, but they stubbornly refused – they had ‘better’ things to do! They constantly rejected their king’s overtures at communion and he continued to pursue, not them now, but anyone who would come to his feast.
Tradition requires that, once we have accepted an invitation, we be suitably garbed to attend a wedding feast. Apparently one of the last minute guests couldn’t be bothered to dress suitably, so the king ordered him bound “and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”.
As Jesus’ parable unfolds it is left for the scribes and Pharisees to understand that this story is again directed towards them, for they had constantly rejected Him and they were, even then, seeking to destroy Him. He had sought to make them a part of His kingdom, but they had thwarted his efforts at every step of the way.
Jesus’ kingdom is for all who are baptised into Him. Our baptism into the life and death of Christ ensures our invitation to the banquet, but do we put on the wedding garment of repentance so that we would actually be able to dine at the table, once called? “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Are we ready to partake of the wedding feast? Do we make ourselves ready for such? By virtue of our baptism, so very many of us are called, but how many of us live as God’s chosen, as if we are aware of the heavenly banquet that has been prepared for us by the Master Himself?
We often say that our God is a God of second chances. He hovers over us because He wants us – but we allow ourselves to be distracted by our worldly living. That becomes our focus so that we fail to notice that God has it all prepared for us even before we call on Him. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear,” Isaiah 65:24. What a providential God!
The psalmist is aware of this. Paul is also aware of this, for they both speak of a God who cares for them totally, just as a faithful shepherd cares for his sheep. No evil befalls the sheep once they follow their shepherd – “Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life” so that the sheep know that they would be able to commune at the table of their master for all their days.
Paul knows that his life belongs to the Lord, “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” Paul had certainly donned the wedding garment of repentance when he came into the life of Christ. Paul had answered the call to the new life of the Spirit and, contrary to previous indications, he was found worthy to dine at the wedding table.
As always we ask ourselves where we are in this whole scheme of things. Are we suitably attired to partake of the banquet of the kingdom? Do we wear the garment of repentance that allows for our participation in this heavenly feast? We must examine our lives to see if we are living out the gospel values of truth, love and good works that Jesus espoused.
God is our Shepherd, but we, His sheep, need to be faithful and to listen to Him and Him alone so that He “…will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Gospel reflections for October are by Anne Marie Richardson, a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired educator of the parish of Santa Rosa, Arima.