Thursday, August 18, 2011

Put On Something Beautiful

Today's Gospel (Matthew 22: 1-14) is the parable of the king who threw a wedding feast. As the story goes, when the invited guests refuse to come, he ultimately ends up having people invited in from the highways and byways, so that there will still be a grand celebration for his son's wedding. One of the interesting things to remember is that the only thing people had to do was come to the feast. They didn't have to worry about bringing a gift, they didn't even have to be worried about what to wear, since, as was the custom,  the king supplied the clothes for them to wear. (No one could have been expected to own clothing suitable for such an occasion, and so the king would provide suitable clothes for the guests - sort of like renting a tuxedo to be in a wedding today!)
When those who had been invited refused to come and went so far as to kill the messengers of the king, they met a terrible end. This left those who happened to be in the neighborhood - the poor, unemployed, "peasants" who were invited to come in and celebrate. Maybe to show that rudeness and lack of manners are not the exclusive provenance of the wealthy, one man refuses to put on the wedding garment. This was a tremendous insult to the king, and as a result he was ejected from the banquet.
In reflecting on this parable, I see the Lord inviting us to the eternal Feast. There is nothing we can do to earn it, He has already done that for us. The only thing we are asked to do is put on the "wedding garment". What does this mean? Well, when we were baptized we were clothed in white, symbolizing our new life as a child of God. This becomes our "wedding garment", as we celebrate the union of Christ, the bridegroom, with the Church, His bride. As long as we live as a child of God, reflecting the example of Christ, we keep this new life alive and continue to wear the wedding garment. We are, however, free to cast it off. Just as the attendants did not force the man to wear his wedding garment, neither does God force us to live in the proper way. But there are also consequences for us, just as there were for the improperly dressed guest.
As we continue celebrating the union of Christ and His Church, we need to make sure we do not discard this new life we have been given. Every day we have to once again put on something beautiful: the grace-filled life of a child of God.

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