Gospel Meditation

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” Today’s Gospel parable is unsettling in several ways. The various images of rejection, mistreatment, and violence paint an unpleasant picture. Guests refuse to come to a feast, servants are killed, troops are dispatched. The King continues to try to fill his dinner hall, and then when someone finally does show up, the King throws him out for wearing the wrong clothes. What is going on here?

The message would have been a poignant one for his Jewish listeners. As the chosen people, they were the first to receive the “invitation” to share in the kingdom of God. But the chief priests and elders were uninterested in accepting Jesus and his authority; thus they didn’t show up for the feast. But what about those who did come? Something is expected of them as well. Donning a “wedding garment” is like being properly prepared to enter God’s kingdom. Just showing up isn’t enough.

Here it’s important to pay attention to the details. The King first calls his poorly dressed guest “friend.” The approach begins with mercy and kindness. But the man gives no defense for himself, and displays no desire to change. It’s as if he doesn’t really care to be there at all.

The question this raises for us is whether or not we are “dressed” appropriately. We may hang around the banquet hall—going to church, professing to be Christian—but are we sincere guests of the King of kings? Do we truly accept Christ’s teachings and live by them, or are we just showing up? The splendors of the invitation Christ gives us should not be taken for granted. We are called to share in a royal feast. May we all be grateful guests.