That God can invite us for a dinner doesn’t clearly meet our grasp. We think God could invite us to prayer, Mass, confession, but not dinner where there’s eating and drinking, dancing and merriment. We’re raised with the idea that Mass is very serious business and not a banquet and that the House of God should always be preserved for appropriate events and liturgies. It therefore shatters our expectations to hear Isaiah in the first reading speak about God’s invitation to us on His Holy Mountain, where He will provide a feast of rich food and pure choice wines. Jesus echoes this same idea in the parable of the guests invited to a Wedding Banquet, meaning: there should be no remorse about our participation in the grand party called by the Lord.
Again and again, we’re reminded that the Christian assembly is a gathering of people called to a banquet, a feast or as we call it during Mass, the Supper or Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Rev 19:7). In fact, the Church’s relationship with Jesus is understood as a “spiritual marriage” in which the Lord is the Bridegroom and we—members of the Church—are His bride. At such an intense level, we’re not just guests to a Wedding Banquet but an intrinsic part of the wedding feast. Refusing to show up tantamount to breaking an engagement to which we already consented, while at the same time keeping the costly engagement ring. This explains why the no-show by some of the guests of the parable was perceived and treated as disloyalty.
We said our “yes” to the engagement and the Wedding Banquet at our baptism. We went further to seal this relationship when we received Confirmation, making us soldiers of God’s army in His militant Church. Hence, any rejection of His summons is an act of disloyalty. Those who serve in the military understand this well. When we sign an oath of allegiance as we did during baptism, we surrender every aspect of our lives to the Lord. As such, we must let Him rule our nights and days, workdays and rest days, including our vacations. We cannot elect to have him as the Lord of our Sunday mornings while expelling Him in the afternoons of our life, and from our socio-economic and political life or the moral choices we make.
Today’s parable presents three possible kind of guests in which we can each fit ourselves—the absentee guests, those who didn’t prepare adequately for the banquet, and those prepared, present and ready for the feast. The absentee guests are those who have abandoned the faith. If you wonder why one of the guests was kicked out for not wearing an appropriate outfit, look for the answer in the baptismal garment that each of us received at baptism and recall the words said at the giving of the dress: “Bring this garment unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.” Indeed, while many received this garment, only a few meticulously keep it unstained. Be part of that few and start by dressing appropriately for Mass.