Although Jesus taught this parable years ago to the chief priests and elders, it is not dissimilar to what we may have experienced today.
Anyone who has organised a party for family and friends will know the work that is involved. Sending out invitations and providing food, drink and entertainment all require a lot of thought and effort. Even if one or two guests don’t turn up, it is all worthwhile when a good time is enjoyed by those who did show up, and fond memories are created. On the other hand, we know the disappointment, embarrassment and frustration that occurs when nobody turns up. So, Jesus uses this scenario to explain the Church.
The king in the parable symbolises God, who invites people to the wedding feast. All the nourishment required for our souls, all the graces and gifts received through the sacraments and other spiritual practices, are represented by the carefully prepared banquet that the king offers freely, that God offers freely to us. However, not only did those invited make excuses and fail to show up, but when they were given a second chance, the servants with the second invitation were physically assaulted. The same happens with the Church; people often reject it and persecute the followers of Christ.
The king eventually manages to fill the wedding hall with ‘everyone they could find, bad and good alike’ and the marriage feast is held. God invites all to his Church but expects us to come with a good heart.
Just as we know the importance of dressing appropriately for different occasions and it is embarrassing if we either over-dress or under-dress, so too did the people in Jesus’ time. In the parable, the ‘wedding garment’ means you dress for the occasion and want to be there. The garment is the desire of the heart to be a follower of Jesus Christ in name and deed and make up his Church.
The man in the parable knew in his heart that he should not be there, making him silent, but God saw into his heart. God looks for sincerity in what brings us to him, which can be different for everybody. We can never tell what’s in the heart of people who come to God. Only God can be the judge of that, so leave that to Him. What Jesus is reminding us to do when we are invited to the feast is show up, dress appropriately and remain with him to enjoy the meal together.
At the end of the parable, the king says, ‘for many are called, but few are chosen’. We are all called, but how are you coming dressed for the feast?