Right before we receive communion, the priest holds up the consecrated host one more time and says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”
The Gospel I share with you today is a really weird story if you take it seriously or read it as an allegory of God being like a vengeful tyrant. Let’s instead imagine it like a comedy sketch. According to Fr. James Martin in his book Between Heaven and Mirth, many of Jesus’s parables used exaggeration and hyperbole to get a laugh but at the same time teach his audience a lesson. The reason why we don’t get it today is because we have to understand the context of the joke. The Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew is one of the parables that uses exaggeration and hyperbole to teach a lesson.
In spite of America being a democracy, a large population of the country is crazy over the British Royal family. Let’s imagine that everyone in America got invited to William and Kate’s wedding. You’d have to be crazy to turn down a trip to London and the chance to get a glimpse of royalty, right? But the people in the parable do just that. Then the king sends out more messengers telling them that there’s free food. Ever watch Food Network and see all those luxurious, five-star gourmet meals professional chefs create? That is what the king is offering. But the people in the parable keep making excuses and leave town. Some are even crazy enough to kill the messengers. Who the heck would do that in the name of turning down free food?
Strange as it sounds, that’s what happening today. People make a million excuses not to go to Mass. Sure, the Mass is not a fancy wedding with a five-star dinner, but spiritually, the Mass celebrates Jesus marrying the Church and the Eucharist is the feast we partake in as part of the celebration. As John describes in Revelations 19:
The Lord has established his reign,
our God, the almighty.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory.
For the wedding day of the Lamb has come,
his bride has made herself ready.”
Every Mass celebrates not only Jesus’s sacrifice, but his marriage to His bride, the Church.
So why did the King decide to wreak vengeance on those who turned down the invitation? Fr. Robert Barron, in one of his sermons, speculates that the destruction of the city represents the spiritual destruction that results from refusing God. Keep in mind that the king’s vengeance is an exaggeration. People who don’t go to Mass aren’t going to literally get punished for it, but their lives are nevertheless a little bit emptier, their souls all the more malnourished because they stay away from the feast.
In the third act of the parable, the King reaches out to everyone in the kingdom. Saints and sinners alike are called to the feast. But things get weird again when the king throws out somebody who isn’t dressed properly. What’s his deal? Let’s go back to Revelations. The bride is described as wearing a clean, linen garment. Since the Bride represents the Church, we can assume that her wedding garment represents her newfound state of grace. If any of you have been to a wedding, you know that there’s usually a dress code that goes with it. Fr. Robert Barron speculated that the guests that followed the dress code are people who gave their lives to God and live their lives filled with grace while the wedding guest who wasn’t dressed properly represented those who don’t change their lives after receiving grace.
Many are invited, but few are chosen, the Gospel says. I interpret that to mean that many are invited, but few really choose to come. It’s not easy to hand our lives over to God, but in God’s eyes, we’d be crazy to turn down His invitation.
So let’s not only choose to come to the Lamb’s supper, but let’s choose to live our lives filled with God’s grace! I hope that you continue to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament, my sisters in Christ. God bless!