Sunday, October 12, 2014

God's Kingdom, a Wedding Parable, and the Rest of the Story

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014:

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
October 12, 2014

This is a story of an older couple to be married. Both had lost their spouses to death and had grown children. The combined children sent out this wedding invitation to their friends on behalf of their mother and father, Philip, Richard, Karen and Allison, John, Matt and Steve, we request your presence at the marriage of our mother and father. Because they are combining two households, they already have at least two of everything, so please! no presents! Reception and garage sale immediately following the ceremony.

There is no more hopeful event on earth than a wedding... at any age. Jesus loved weddings. On one occasion he referred to himself as a bridegroom. So it is not surprising that at least one of his parables is to teach us, using a wedding parable.

So in the gospel today a parable about a wedding. Jesus seems to have such a concern about a man and a woman joining together in marriage that his first public miracle was performed at Cana in Galilee. The changing of water into wine at the request of His mother, this was so that there should be no embarrassment at the wedding feast. The Church has added to the significance of this wedding at Cana that it is now called the second of the luminous mysteries of the Rosary.

The kingdom of heaven is like a king, He said, who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them that all was ready. But they did something quite extraordinary-- they refused the invitation. This was most unusual-- to refuse the Kings invitation. Nevertheless, there were those who refuse to come.

Then the king sent more servants and said, "tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fatted cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet."

Again his invitation was spurned. Some of those who receive the invitation went back to their fields or back to their businesses. The rest seized the king's servants mistreated them and then killed them.

The king was enraged as you might imagine. He sent his army and destroy those who were guilty of these crimes and burned their city. "Then he said to his servants, 'the wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners an invite to the banquet anyone you find.' "

So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

This parable sounds very much like the parable we had last week about the land owner who rented out his vineyard to some rebellious tenants. But this story takes a strange twist. The wedding does go on with those who chose to come. However, "when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding garment." How did you get in here without a wedding garment, friend? The man was speechless. He was not wearing the right clothes.

We were told when we studied this in class that the King provided the wedding garments for his guests. So to find a guest without a wedding garment, was a great insult. Because of this insult he told his attendance to bind him hand and foot and cast him outside into the darkness where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

This can be a shocking text for many people. For you see, it is not about clothes at all. This text implies that there are certain qualifications for those who follow Jesus. This text implies that God cares how his children live.

Many people today have heard the message of grace: "Jesus loves me, Jesus accepts me just as I am. Whoopee! I'm saved. I'm headed for the promised land." But, wait just a moment. That is only part of the gospel message.

The point of the story is, that God's kingdom is the kingdom in which love and justice and truth and mercy and holiness rain unhindered. These are the clothes you need to wear for the wedding. And if you refuse to put them on, you are saying you don't want to stay at the celebration.

You may think these are harsh words, but they are very much a part of the gospel. God loves us as we are, but God expects us to clothe ourselves with the character of Jesus Christ. That's one reason we come to worship. To get to know Christ so that we might be more like him.

The great reality is coming here, some of us daily and for sure the rest of us on Sunday and receiving Holy Communion makes us more Christ Like, for what we received we become.

To come to a conclusion we may wonder how a 2000 year old parable concerning an invitation to a wedding is a concern to us today. So I purpose a question to you, why are you here? Who invited you here? Please remember the words we hear at Communion time which says, "Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb." I wish for you to consider that it is the Father calling you to the wedding feast of his Son in this Mass and every Mass. The challenge for us is what do we wear? I wish to challenge you that it isn't the clothes we wear although that is important, but as you heard earlier in this homily is Love, Justice, Truth, Mercy and Holiness that we are to wear as a response to the call of the Father to the wedding feast of his Son.

So you all be good, be holy preached the gospel always and if necessary use words!

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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