A Proper R.S.V.P.
What does it mean to receive and honor God’s invitation? God invites us to grace, love, forgiveness, the heavenly banquet! But are we accepting the invitation?
That is, I think, the question for us behind the parable of the wedding banquet. Click here to read it from the Gospel of Matthew.
A quick refresher: The King’s son is getting married and the invited guests snub the King’s invitation, some even beating and killing the servants sent with the invitations. So after a kingly hissy-fit (killed them and burned their city), he invited the poor and the lame, whomever would come. Yet they were still expected to compose themselves properly.
Remember that parables are not allegories. We tend to make each character in a parable have a specific, corresponding person in real life, then to make everything in the parable have some direct meaning. But a parable is a story told to illustrate a point, to take something the audience will understand and use it to illustrate some truth of the Kingdom.
The King in the parable is not to be seen as God. He is a human King, behaving the way human Kings behave and that we understand. No one likes it when a generous invitation is ignored or despised, including Jesus’ audience, and us.
So the parable is, I think, a reminder that we cannot presume that the invitation to the Kingdom requires no response. We can’t just stick it in our pocket until it suits us, or worse, to continue to behave selfishly and thus to despise God’s invitation.
The point isn’t that we will be cast out and our city burned (that is the response of the human king), but that we won’t enjoy the banquet if we don’t get about the business of accepting the invitation and behaving accordingly.
So what does that mean for us? How can I live in a way that honors God’s gracious and overwhelming invitation?
This column appeared in the October 15 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.