Ready for the Feast?



God is called the Bridegroom of His Bride Israel (see especially Song of Songs and Hosea). Isaiah applies this specifically to Messiah: “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD…the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.”

With this as a background, pious Jews would have clearly recognized that by casting Himself — the “Son” of “the King” — as the Bridegroom of the heavenly wedding feast, Jesus was claiming to be both Messiah and God. The Pharisees seem to have recognized this, as the very next line after the parable (not included in our text) says: “Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Him in speech.”

But Jesus also refers to a wedding feast — a great supper. This allusion should not be lost on Catholics: He is referring to the great and bounteous feast of heaven, of course, but also to the earthly foretaste of that feast in the Eucharist.

Marriage is a union resulting from a total mutual self-gift of husband and wife. For Christ and His Church this self-gift begins on the Cross as Christ gives Himself for and to His Bride (“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:24)). This communion is perfected for each of us only in heaven — the participation in all good things with the Divine Bridegroom, which Scripture calls the heavenly wedding feast. But we begin to share in that communion here on earth, most especially in the Eucharist, where we feast on the Bread of heaven, which is the Bridegroom Himself.

 

In today’s text we read how at the wedding feast of heaven the Father sends his servants out saying: “'The feast is ready…. Invite…whomever you find.' The servants…gathered all they found, bad and good alike.” This passage reminds us how generous the Lord is to invite both the righteous and sinners to come to His kingdom. Unfortunately sometimes we can delude ourselves with this passage, thinking that since God invites everyone to heaven and to Mass, that everyone should actually enter heaven and receive Holy Communion. But according to the parable, just because everyone is invited to the wedding that doesn’t mean that everyone gets to stay for supper. Jesus goes on to explain that when the king discovered a guest “not dressed in a wedding garment” he had him bound and “cast him into the darkness outside.” And He concludes: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

God invites all of us to His Son’s wedding banquet — the perfection of the banquet in heaven, and the foretaste of this banquet in the Eucharist. But He also tells us to prepare ourselves for the banquet — and if we’re not prepared, we will not eat at the feast.

How do you prepare yourself for heaven and for Mass? Is your garment clean — unstained by serious sin? Are you wearing the right kind of garment — do you “clothe yourself in Christ” (Gal 3:27) by keeping His commandments? The king bound and cast out the improperly dressed guest at his son’s wedding feast — what will He do to us if we come to either our judgment at death or to Communion at Mass covered only with our sins?

Let us rededicate ourselves to prepare for the wedding feast of God’s only Son, for “many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Fr. De Celles is Parochial Vicar of St. Michael Parish in Annandale, Virginia.

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

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