Summary: Father Dave’s take on the Parable of the great big party!
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ’Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ’The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ’Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ’Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen."
Jesus says "The Kingdom of God is like a party", and that sounds like good news, especially if you are a lover of parties.
Personally, I am not a great lover of parties. Indeed, I generally dread it when I receive a party invitation in the mail. Questions immediately come to mind: ’who else is going to be there?’, ’do I have to get dressed up?’, ’can I get out of it?’
I received an invitation to a party a couple of weeks ago, from my high-school sweetheart - a girl I haven’t seen in a good many years. She’s turning 40. That’s rather sobering. I managed to get out of that one.
And I was supposed to dress ’glam’ for that party. Ange went to a party recently where she had to dress up as something starting with the letter ’M’, and where she was told up-front that Marilyn Monroe had already been taken! She looked rather good as the parish minister I thought. I suppose I could have accompanied her as Moby Dick, but I stayed home instead and got on with my work, because I had a sermon to write, and because I would have found it hard work, and Ange is very understanding in these matters.
Parties are meant to be fun of course, but we all know that some parties are just a hard slog. If you go to one of the Archbishop’s dinner parties, you’ll quickly discover that this is not the sort of party where you loll around drinking beer and telling rude jokes. This is the sort of party where you dress well, speak appropriately, and make sure you pass the port in the right direction. These are the sorts of parties I try to avoid.
Jesus says, "The Kingdom of God is like a party". What sort of party is it?
The party Jesus is talking about is a royal wedding party, which means that it’s a rather significant party, and it starts out with a more exclusive guest list than you’d find at any of the Archbishop’s dinner parties. All the important people have been invited - the nobles, the clergy, politicians and legal people, community leaders, business people, movers and shakers from across the king’s domain, but, strangely, none of them want to come!
The king is a bit taken aback by this, so he reissues his invitation a little more forcefully, lest anyone should have misunderstood the exact nature of the party, or perhaps missed the fact that not attending was not really an option.
Strangely though the invited guests just don’t take the king seriously at all. One woman has an appointment with her hairdresser that day. Another guy had that day set aside to go looking for a new car. And some of the invited guests got so annoyed at being bothered again by the king that they set the dogs onto his messengers, and some of these messenger boys and messenger girls were killed.
So the king gets jack of this, and he sends the army out, and they work through the same guest list, butchering each of the invited guests who decided that they had better things to do than go to the kings party. And then the army goes through and burns the villages where each of these characters lived!