“But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.” (Matthew 22:11)
There is so much going on in the parable in today’s gospel. Our Father is the king, and he throws the great wedding feast for his son, Jesus. If there is a wedding than there has to be a bride. Christ’s bride is his Church: each and every one of us. But let’s go back a bit and go deeper into this parable. When the king makes his initial invitation to the wedding feast, the invited guests reject his invitation. This is similar to last week’s gospel where the workers rejected the servants of the vineyard owner and beat up and killed some of those that were sent. In both parables, the workers and the invited guests who reject the servants represent Israel who throughout the Old Testament rejected God’s prophets. Now the king later on sends his servants out to invite everyone much like Christ sent the apostles “to all nations” to preach the Good News and to invite them to come to the feast: the Eucharist.
Yet once again, there is an element of unfairness, at least from a human perspective, at the end of the gospel. The king wanted guests for his son’s wedding feast and guests he received! The hall was full, but there was one man who was not dressed for the occasion. There was one that was not in a wedding garment. If the king wanted everyone there, why did he have this man thrown out? Many are invited, but few are chosen, Jesus tells us at the end of the gospel. The wedding garment is like our baptismal garment that we receive at baptism. It symbolizes the purity that we receive through that first sacrament. Obviously, we grow out of that garment, but we still wear a spiritual garment that is as pure as Christ himself. But as we grow up and begin to fall into the trap of sin, the spiritual garment starts to get stained. When we commit mortal sin, our garment is not fit for the feast that we celebrate every Sunday here in Mass, and thus we refrain (and if we don’t, we should refrain) from receiving Holy Communion which is greater than all the food we hear about in today’s readings. But isn’t it wonderful that we can wash our spiritual garment in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? I told my Spanish Mass this morning that I have the best Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service in town right here to the right of the sanctuary in our confessionals. We walk in there stained and burdened by our sins, and we walk out as clean and as pure as the day we were baptized. What a gift we have in this holy sacrament where Jesus through his Divine Mercy makes us worthy to partake in his Father’s feast. What love the Father has for us that he allows us to return time and time again to receive absolution. The alternative would be to be tossed out like the man in the gospel.
I know that there are many who carry the great burden of sin on their shoulders and perhaps walk into this beautiful temple with their spiritual garment not suitable for the feast that we partake in. God wants everyone to partake in this banquet. It’s time to cleanse our garments. It’s time to accept the King’s invitation. It’s time to rid ourselves of our sins through confession and realize that we have been both invited and chosen to partake in the great wedding feast of our Lord and Savior. When was the last time you went to confession?