Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.
Reflection: The Undeserved Banquet of the Gospel
By John Tillman
Meals during Christ’s earthly life were an important cultural ritual. They were more than just fraternity, but pedagogy.
When God wished the Israelites to remember forever what he did for them in the Exodus from Israel, he didn’t have them sit for an exam, but for a meal—the first taste of the first covenant. The Passover Meal is the source of the second covenant as well, for Christ’s last meal before the crucifixion was this same instructive dinner.
Today’s parable also provides a unique picture of the gospel. In Matthew and Luke the king angrily describes his initial guest-list of no-shows as being undeserving of attending the wedding. These unworthies are described as being more concerned about their businesses and fields. Profit takes precedence over a relationship that should be a priority—a royal relationship.
It is hard to imagine turning down an invitation to an earthly royal wedding. It is not so long ago that most of the world stopped to view one. But we do turn down our King. We turn him down. For work. For divertments. For pleasures. For money. For lusts.
But our great king, still calls for his banquet hall to be full. He sends out his servants to the far places, the poor places, the places where the sick gather waiting to die. He takes all comers. He takes us all.
God sets his table for scoundrels, shaking hands with undeserved trust. He polishes the silverware for the impoverished, sending spoons and dishes home with the leftovers. He welcomes the wanderers, washing their feet as they enter. He dresses the wounds of the oppressed and broken, staunching their bleeding and soothing their pains.
This is how we, the undeserving, motley, scandalous louts that we are, find ourselves with our feet under Christ’s table. Christ invites all to the banquet. We will surprise someone by being there, and be surprised in return.
None of us deserve to come. Not those first invited, and not those brought in from the highways and hedges. We do not choose who dines at Christ’s banquet. For if we were honest about our own sinful hearts, we would not choose to allow ourselves there.
Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. — Psalm 51.16
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.
Genesis 23 (Listen – 2:34)
Matthew 22 (Listen – 4:56)
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Read more about Better Things to Do
The uncaring attitude that the wealthy market owner has starts with a greedy lie that he has better things to do than worship God—namely, to wring out profit from every minute, every worker, and every square foot of land.
Read more about Recalling the Failures
The world wants to put us back in our place after failure. Jesus comes to us with a second (third, fourth, fifth…) calling.