In the Gospel of today, we hear the unpredictability of God. That is, he can be unpredictable from the perspective of human nature.
The father of the groom first invited other guests, those whom he and the family thought worthy. But, when they spurned him by not turning up, all were invited. These then became the favoured ones.
In our journey to God we come across many situations in which we feel we are doing well, spiritually, that we are favoured. There is also a cultural teaching that we become the personal friend of Jesus, and this makes us feel privileged. Indeed we are privileged. But spiritual progress is fraught with danger, because it can lead us the wrong way. We could easily begin to think that we are those first guests invited to the wedding, and in our spiritual pride we may throw away the gift we are given out of pride.
The hymn puts it “What a friend we have in Jesus.” And this is true. But we risk turning Jesus into a personal talisman, the one who understands us but nobody else does. The slippery slope has then begun, and we can begin to forget that he is our Lord, our King, that he is pivotal in our search for utter humility. We should not be in the market for seeking an invisible pal who simply agrees with us. He is our mentor, our light, our goal. But he isn’t our talisman on our spiritual dashboard to agree with us whenever we are moaning about others or engulfed in self pity. Going down that slippery slope can lead us into grave spiritual danger.
Luckily, we have the Gospels and the Sacraments to guide and sustain us. And in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus’s story which teaches about how easy it is to make assumptions, to start going the wrong way. God makes us great and extraordinary gifts, and we are free to do with them what we like.
Being asked to come to the wedding, shall we attend? Do we slavishly appear at Sunday Mass and learn all of Scripture but forget to be the selfless people God has asked us to be? Perhaps through that error we will not attend the wedding. Do we say all the correct prayers and read the right books but forget to feed the hungry to the point that it may sometimes hurt? Do we practice love in our family whilst at the same time showing disregard and coolness to those outside, those we do not like but who are still imprinted with the love of God? All of these situations are grave spiritual dangers, and Jesus warns us about them throughout the Gospels. Today included.
How lucky we are to have the Gospels to guide us. May we learn to stay on the right path as we journey to God.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. 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.”
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. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants,
“The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding”.
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. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. 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”.
For many are called, but few are chosen.’
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.