This week’s Gospel was always somewhat of a perplexing case for me. I got the whole thing about some people not attending the feast; some going to their farm, another getting married. It was something I could relate to as we all have one reason or another for not putting God first. I could even wrap my head around the idea of the king sending out courtiers to round up whoever they could to go to the feast; it reminded me of the time that I helped out at a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless, people came from all over, some of whom had better cars and better clothes than I did, but all were welcome.
The part that threw me for a loop was the bit about the wedding garments and some guy not having one on. Here this king had just rounded up people from all over and had them come in to the feast without any prior notice, and then he gets mad that one of them isn’t dressed appropriately! What did he expect when he took them right off the street? The whole thing was bothersome. As I’ve told you all before if you get mad when you’re reading scripture you’re reading it wrong and this case was no different.
It was in a course on institutions of ancient Israel that light was finally shed on the issue. In a section about marriage customs it talked about wedding garments and how and when they were worn. It turns out that in the ancient world wedding garments were handed out at the door if someone didn’t have one; kind of like fancy restaurants do today where they have a reserve of jackets for guys who forgot theirs. Much like at the restaurants patrons would return the borrowed garment on their way out. This completely changed everything.
Now it wasn’t just a story of some unlucky guy who happened to have left the house without his best suit when he didn’t know he would need it. No! It was the story of some guy who gets invited to the biggest event of the year at the last minute and then spits on the invitation by throwing away his borrowed attire. You can’t get much ruder than that! Then I realized that that is pretty much what we do when we sin; we take the borrowed spotless garment of the soul that Jesus gives us in redemption and then we toss it aside for some passing pleasure; talk about convicting. Well to say the least, I finally got the meaning of the parable: keep your soul spotless because you’ll have to return it to the owner someday. Prayers Always, Fr. Joseph Altenhofen