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Don’t ignore Jesus’ gracious invitation

Based on the Gospel of Matthew 22:1-14
Another parable – an invitation – a choice – proper “dress-up” clothes – a celebration!

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a king who planned a fancy banquet for his son’s wedding.

In Jesus’ time, servants or messengers delivered the invitations for important banquets, such as weddings. Anyone invited was expected to attend. Also, for such a celebration people were expected to dress in formal clothes.

To refuse the invitation was considered an insult. To make matters worse, in this Sunday’s Gospel, the invited guests not only refused the invitation because of other things to do, but also mistreated and even killed the messengers. The king then sent his army to destroy the murderers and burn their city.

The angry king said to his servants, “These people who were invited did not deserve to share in the feast. Go out and invite everyone you meet.” Soon the hall was filled with people, good and bad alike, and they all had a great time.

As the king met with the guests, he noticed one man was not properly dressed for the celebration. The king had the man thrown out of the hall. This guest represented those who were invited but who refused to change their hearts and ways of living.

Jesus used this parable to remind us that God has invited us to the “wedding feast” of the kingdom of heaven. God invites but does not force us to accept his friendship or heaven. The freedom of choice is ours.

We were provided with the proper “wedding garment” or “dress-up” clothes on the day of our baptism when we were given our new life of faith.

Jesus invites all of us to love God and to share that love with others and to come each Sunday to God’s earthly “wedding feast” – the Mass. We hear his word in Scripture and receive his body and blood in holy Communion. We also have the sacrament of reconciliation to help keep our “wedding garment” spotless and clean. Living our life of faith, with the help of God’s grace, we can then someday be part of God’s heavenly banquet at the end of time.

Some people don’t pay attention to Jesus’ gracious invitation. They make all sorts of excuses. That’s sad because they miss out on God’s gifts of love, grace, joy, peace and a deeper relationship with him.

God’s invitation list has your name on it. Will you openly and unconditionally say “yes” to follow him? Jesus tells us, “Many are invited but few are chosen.”