The Holy Apostle Paul time and time again clearly reveals his love for the churches which he writes, even when discipline is in order. Perhaps his love is revealed all the more while disciplining the rebellious. To the Corinthians he writes, “For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” As a loving father, Paul seeks for those in his spiritual care to turn from their corruptible ways and return to the path of righteousness, the path to salvation by living a life in Christ.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus reveals of a king who arranged a marriage for his son and sent out his servants to call all those invited to come, yet none of those invited return. It is another parable offered by our Lord in order to strike at the hearts of the hearers and to awaken within them the desire for transformation. It is also a blatant warning to the Chief-Priests and Pharisees, the neglecters of God’s great gift and promise. We will return to the wedding banquet in just a moment. Let us first look at what was immediately preceding the parable in this morning’s Gospel reading. Christ exhorts, “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”
Then Christ issues a grave warning, citing Psalm 117, that the "stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." Christ then says, whoever falls upon this stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder. Saint John Chrysostom eloquently states that for those who fall upon the stone and break are those who suffer as a result of their sins in this world, whereas those upon whom the rock falls, are those who remain unrepentant and will be destroyed at the final judgement. The key here is not the sin, or failing to hit the mark, the key is true and genuine repentance, confession and living a life in Christ. To live unrepentant before God for the sins that we commit is to await utter destruction, but rather when we live a life of constant repentance and return to our Lord, there will be eternal joy with our God. God will not despise a broken and contrite heart, but quite the contrary, will rejoice at the return of the son, as we see in the parable of the Prodigal.
So none invited return to the feast prepared by the king. As a good and just king, he perceives they maybe didn’t understand or were confused, so again, sending out other servants, invites them again. Still, none invited returned, one went to his farm, another to his business and the rest seized the servants of the king treated them spitefully and killed them. As you might imagine, the king became furious upon hearing this news and sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers and burned up their city, Jerusalem soon thereafter did indeed fall according to the historical account of Josephus. According to the Fathers of the Church, the first group of servants represent Moses and those with him, whom the Jews did not obey, but provoked God in the wilderness for forty years. The second group represents that of the prophets, some they killed like Isaiah and others like Jeremiah they treated spitefully as was done throwing him into the mire, both Moses and the prophets were, like the servants of the parable, calling upon the Jews to hearken unto God. The third group of servants sent were that of the Apostles preaching to all nations. The king still sought for people to attend the feast, for the ox and fatted calf, or rather the Old and New Testament, awaits them at this feast and the king says to this third group of servants that those previously were unworthy, so rather to go into the highways, seek people from all sorts and manner of living, like the Apostles, these servants reached the far corners and found those living is ways of delusion and evil doctrines, and there they found both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled. But it is not enough to simply show-up as we soon find out. Then the king came in to see the guests and noticed a man without a wedding garment. Asking the man how he entered without a proper wedding garment, the man knowing his wrong was speechless and the king commanded him to be 'bound hand and foot, taken away and cast in to outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
“Many are called, but few are chosen.” Each one of us, all of humanity, has been invited to a banquet more splendid than all the banquets ever offered, we have been called by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let us, with hearts full of love accept this gift of salvation and in so doing, turn from this world’s pursuits of self-centeredness and mundane ambition.
Each week that we cycle through, is a Holy Week within itself, we are tested and face challenges whether we are aware or not, we suffer, whether we are aware or not, we are attacked, whether we are aware or not, and all the while our Lord is with us, sustains us, and grants us life and strength to continue in our struggles.
Let us not waste one hour, minute or second, let us run from this world into the embrace of our Lord who fills us with His grace, in so doing He transforms us into His children, with joy we must accept this invitation, with joy we must go forth and proclaim His Good News by truly living in such a way that glorifies Him, forever and ever. Amen.