Aug 18 2022 Reflection
Thursday 18 August 2022
First Reading: EZ 36:23-28
I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
PS 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
Gospel Reading: MT 22:1-14
Today’s Note: Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying,
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
What can a royal wedding party tell us about God’s kingdom? One of the most beautiful images used in the Scriptures to depict what heaven is like is the wedding celebration and royal feast given by the King for his newly-wed son and bride. Whatever grand feast we can imagine on earth, heaven is the feast of all feasts because the Lord of heaven and earth invites us to the most important banquet of all – not simply as bystanders or guests – but as members of Christ’s own body, his bride the church! The last book in the Bible ends with an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb – the Lord Jesus who offered his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and who now reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!(Revelations 22:17). The Lord Jesus invites us to be united with himself in his heavenly kingdom of peace and righteousness.
Whose interests come first – God or mine?
Why does Jesus’ parable of the marriage feast seem to focus on an angry king who ends up punishing those who refused his invitation and who mistreated his servants? Jesus’ parable contains two stories. The first has to do with the original guests invited to the marriage feast. The king had sent out invitations well in advance to his subjects, so they would have plenty of time to prepare for coming to the feast. How insulting for the invited guests to then refuse when the time for celebrating came! They made light of the King’s request because they put their own interests above his. They not only insulted the King but the heir to the throne as well. The king’s anger is justified because they openly refused to give the king the honor he was due. Jesus directed this warning to the Jews of his day, both to convey how much God wanted them to share in the joy of his kingdom, but also to give a warning about the consequences of refusing his Son, their Messiah and Savior.
An invitation we cannot refuse!
The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king and who would never have considered getting such an invitation. The “good and the bad” along the highways certainly referred to the Gentiles (non-Jews) and to sinners. This is certainly an invitation of grace – undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness! But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. God’s grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.
Cheap grace or costly grace?
Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian in Germany who died for his faith under Hitler’s Nazi rule, contrasted “cheap grace” and “costly grace”.
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”
God invites each of us as his friends to his heavenly banquet that we may celebrate with him and share in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?
Lord Jesus, may I always know the joy of living in your presence and grow in the hope of seeing you face to face in your everlasting kingdom.