Today’s gospel lesson is the Parable of the Wedding Feast, from Matthew 22:1-14. In our lives we have all experienced the joy of attending a wedding within our families and among our friends. Usually a wedding is envisioned as a great feast or celebration not only for the couple but for all of us. We don our best clothes and cherish and anticipate the great event in our minds and hearts. We are already looking forward to this special day!
Many Christians, whether knowingly or unknowingly, seem to think that our life within the Church is supposed to be sad and gloomy, our way of thinking that this is somehow more reverential. On the contrary, Jesus, while entreating us to carry one’s cross through life, also exhorts us to be joyful, happy and enjoy our lives with him as the Bridegroom at a wedding feast. The first fruits of the Holy Spirit are love and joy for there are innumerable references in the Gospels concerning God’s joy; which, in many instances, carries us through the trials and tribulations of life.
In this parable, which we hear often, explains that the King is God, and the King’s son is Jesus Christ in whose honor the Feast with all its joy and abundance is prepared. The first guests called were the Jews who refuse His invitation rejecting the person and ministry of Christ. The second group of guests are the Gentiles whether good or bad, who are invited but with this invitation are to prepare and change in order to properly participate in the great banquet. Jesus then after this draws the conclusion at the end of the Parable that many if not all are invited to participate but few truly respond with all their heart and thus truly become God’s chosen.
You see dear Brothers and sisters, we are invited to the Feast but often neglect to respond in kind to the Lord. The Divine Liturgy is a spiritual Banquet, a wedding feast, which is given by God in honor of Christ, to be joyful and shared with all those who have failed to respond to His loving invitation. May God enable you in your participation during the Liturgy to experience God’s love and joy offered freely to all of us!