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Gospel for Sunday, October 15: Matthew 22: 1-14

XXVIII Sunday A

1Jesus spoke to them again in parables and said: 2“The kingdom of heaven is like a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3He sent his servants to call the guests to the wedding, but they did not want to come. 4He again sent other servants with this order: “Tell the guests: Behold, I have prepared my lunch; my oxen and fattened animals are already killed and everything is ready; come to the wedding!”. 5But they didn’t care and went some to their own fields, some to their own business; 6others then took his servants, insulted them and killed them. 7Then the king was indignant: he sent his troops, had those murderers killed and set their city on fire. 8Then he said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready, but the guests were not worthy; 9go now to the crossroads and everyone you find, call them to the wedding.” 10Having gone out into the streets, those servants gathered together all those they found, bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11The king entered to see the guests and there he saw a man who was not wearing his wedding dress. 12He said to him, “Friend, how come you came in here without your wedding dress?” He fell silent. 13Then the king ordered the servants: “Bind him hand and foot and throw him outside into the darkness; there there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Mt 22: 1-14

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

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The discrepancy between Matthew (Mt 22.1-14) and Luke (Luke 14.16-24) in this parable is so great that we are led to conclude that Matthew has largely reworked the story. Instead of a dinner, Matthew has a royal wedding party: the protagonist is “a king” (Mt 22.2) and not “a man” (Lk 14.16); in addition to the excuses given by the guests in Luke, Matthew inserts the variant of the killing of the messengers and the ensuing war (“The king, sent his troops, killed those murderers and burned their city”). This detail most likely represents the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. C..

Invited to the party

Pope Francis comments: “With the story of the parable of the wedding banquet, from today’s Gospel passage (see Mt 22,1-14), Jesus outlines the plan that God has thought for humanity. The king who “gave a wedding feast for his son” (v. 2) is an image of the Father who has prepared for the entire human family a wonderful celebration of love and communion around his only begotten Son. Twice the king sends his servants to call the guests but they refuse, they don’t want to go to the party because they have other things to think about: fields and business. Many times we too put our interests and material things before the Lord who calls us – and he calls us to a party.

All called, “good and bad”

But the king in the parable does not want the room to remain empty, because he wishes to donate the treasures of his kingdom to him. He then says to the servants: «Go now to the crossroads and call everyone you find» (v. 9). This is how God behaves: when he is rejected, instead of giving up, he relaunches and invites everyone at the crossroads to call, without excluding anyone. No one is excluded from the house of God.

The original term used by the evangelist Matthew refers to the limits of the roads, that is, those points where the city streets end and the paths that lead to the countryside area, outside the built-up area, where life is precarious begin. It is to this humanity of the crossroads that the king in the parable sends his servants, in the certainty of finding people willing to sit at the table. Thus the banquet hall is filled with “excluded”, those who are “outside”, those who had never seemed worthy of participating in a party, in a wedding banquet. Indeed: the master, the king, says to the messengers: «Call everyone, good and bad. Everyone!”. God even calls the wicked. «No, I’m bad, I’ve done a lot…». He calls you: «Come, come, come!». And Jesus went to lunch with the tax collectors, who were the public sinners, they were the bad ones. God is not afraid of our soul wounded by so much wickedness, because he loves us, he invites us. And the Church is called to reach today’s crossroads, that is, the geographical and existential peripheries of humanity, those places on the margins, those situations in which hopeless shreds of humanity find themselves encamped and living. It is a question of not settling on the comfortable and usual ways of evangelization and testimony of charity, but of opening the doors of our hearts and our communities to everyone, because the Gospel is not reserved for a select few. Even those on the margins, even those who are rejected and despised by society, are considered by God worthy of his love. He prepares his banquet for everyone: the righteous and sinners, the good and the bad, the intelligent and the uncultured.”

Welcoming the wedding dress

But to participate in the wedding banquet it is necessary to accept the special dress that is given to everyone. “Whoever arrives at the threshold of the banquet room receives a white cloak, a free festive dress, which indicates having freely answered “yes” to the king’s invitation. Even the wedding dress is enough to welcome and wear, it should not be earned or bought. However, there are still those who oppose it: they don’t accept that gift, they don’t want that dress and they don’t wear it! Yet the king, by giving away that dress, only asks those who enter the banquet to wear festive attire, to be clean, to give a sign of change and freedom… So when he “enters to see the guests, he sees a man who she is not wearing her wedding dress” and who, when asked for explanations, remained silent. It is another disappointment for the king, a frustrated call: he would not want it, but in fact whoever refuses this latest gift finds himself, by his choice, in a deadly situation, with no way out.

At this point the language of the parable, with typically oriental features, in its intent to warn and exhort the readers becomes harsh, even cruel: «Bind him hand and foot and throw him outside into the darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”, orders the king to the servants. However, these are images (and I underline, images!) to express a fundamental reality: on the last day there will be a decisive judgement, which will focus on having accepted or rejected the gift of God. God gives us life, never life. death: we choose the latter. And God, who fully respects our freedom, lets us do it with suffering, and so he sees us wandering far from himself and preferring prison to freedom, destruction to full life” (E. Bianchi).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

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