The wedding banquet in today’s Gospel reading is, quite obviously, an allegory for the kingdom of God. It also presents to us the Eucharist, which is the wedding banquet between Christ, the bridegroom, and the Church, his bride.
We currently live in a paradox concerning God’s kingdom. The fact that we can receive the Eucharist – the heavenly banquet – means that the kingdom of God is here and now. The fact that things in this world are not perfect means that the kingdom has not been fully established – Already, but not yet – as the phrase goes.
Some of the guests didn’t have a wedding garment, but what is the wedding garment that we are to wear at this banquet?
Have you ever wondered why the king would bring people off of the streets and then expect them to be wearing a wedding garment; then cast someone out into the darkness because he didn’t have one on?
If you went to any homeless person in Lorain, I doubt that he would have a tux in his bag of stuff or that she would have a formal in her bag of stuff.
Remember, Jesus is telling a parable – or an allegory – and is using images to symbolize other things.
The wedding garment he expects of us is a proper disposition – the Lord’s table open to all who are willing to receive it correctly.
St. Gregory the Great preached, “What then must we understand by the wedding garment but love? That person enters the marriage feast, but without wearing a wedding garment, who is present in the holy church. He may have faith, but he does not have love. We are correct when we say that love is the wedding garment because this is what our Creator himself possessed when he came to the marriage feast to join the church to himself.”
So mere admission into the banquet hall is not enough; an appropriate response is needed.
Christian charity – love – as well as a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith are the appropriate responses to the Lord’s invitation to the Eucharist.
At Liturgy the priest invites people to the Lord’s table with the acclamation, “Approach with fear of God and with faith.”
This is because, as the guests in today’s parable, the church has both good and bad people. The separation of the good and bad won’t take place until we depart this life.
In the Gospel passage, it is the king who inspects the guests. At our judgment day it will be Christ the king who inspects us.
There is always time for repentance – a change of heart – until we have died to this life and entered the next. This condition for entrance into the kingdom of God must also be continued in a life of good deeds. As we read in the Epistle of James, faith without works is dead. Those good deeds are the expression of our faith through our love of neighbor.
There is always time to put on the proper wedding garment for the King’s banquet. There is always time to enter more fully into the already, even while we live in the not yet.