This week’s reading suggests that while God’s invitation is indeed directed to all, we must positively respond to that invitation and make changes in our lives. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
1 Jesus began to speak to them in parables once again, 2 ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. 3 He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. 4 Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited,” he said, “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” 5 But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. 6 The king was furious. He dispatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. 8 Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, 9 go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” 10 So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, 12 and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping, and grinding of teeth.” 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.’
Other readings: Isaiah 25:6-10 Psalm 22 (23) Philippians 4:12-14,19-20
The parable we hear today takes up the image of the feast of the kingdom of heaven. The theme of the banquet of eternal life runs through our readings today. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the day when all will be united at the feast provided by God. Our psalm reminds us of the Lord who prepares a banquet for each one. Jesus, who welcomed the unwanted and ate and drank with them during his earthly life, gives this parable of the wedding feast as a symbol of the life of the kingdom.
The reluctance of so many to come to the wedding speaks of people who are immersed in the things of the world and have no time for the things of God. We can make many excuses for not responding to God’s call. The invitation is extended to all, ‘bad and good alike’. There is a constant need to respond to God’s invitation, and make changes in our lives.
In the final verses of the parable there is a dramatic change of tone. Why is the man without the wedding garment thrown out? It seems to contradict the generosity of the earlier invitation to all. God’s invitation is indeed directed to all, but there is always a need for a deliberate response. To be carried along by the crowd without understanding where we are going is as bad as refusing the invitation in the first place!
Do I allow my daily preoccupations to take precedence over the search to find God?
Do I take my faith for granted without really trying to grow in knowledge and love of God?
We thank God for inviting us into communion with him.
We thank God for the sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy