Seriously, how often have we given thought to the consequences of the choices we have made? Possibly the questions we ask are “Did I make the right choice?” “Was anyone else affected by my decisions?” “Did I get someone out of or into trouble?”
Today’s Gospel is about choices (28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Matthew 22:1-14). And the gospel is told in the form of a parable, which means that we find in it a great deal of symbolism.
At least, four things happened which indicated that choices were involved.
(1)-The king chose to have a banquet for his son. In addition to being an occasion for a joyful family gathering, the biblical banquet sometimes referred to the “end time.” I suspect that what we have in this gospel reading is an attempt to answer the question “How does one prepare for the final judgement?” The answer could well be that of making the correct choices throughout one’s life.
(2)-The king sent out his servants to those invited to come to the banquet. It turns out that the invited guests chose not to come, but instead gave feeble excuses.
(3)-After having been refused by the invited guests the first time, the king thought that by sharing the menu with them they might come. So, he sent his servants this time describing what the invited guests would eat. The invited guests again chose not to come and some of them behaved badly.
(4)-Finally, the king gave word to his servants to go to the highways and byways and invite anybody they could. All the outsiders (uninvited guests) would be welcomed. Thus, they chose to come to the banquet.
However, among the outsiders asked to come in, an individual without a “wedding garment” was thrown out. This seems quite puzzling. What was the “wedding garment,” the lack of which caused him to be ejected? Remember that this wedding banquet was possibly a reference to the end time, and therfore the moment of final judgement. The lack of wearing the “wedding garment” may well have been the choice of the individual not to be ready for the final judgement.
Presumably, the other guests were wearing the wedding garment (had made the choice to follow Jesus’ example in treating others), and this individual had not. The fact that he was immediately thrown out and cast “…into the darkness where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” suggests that this lack of wearing the “wedding garment” (negative mode of behavior toward others) would justify this action. He chose not to wear the garment, and the appropriate consequences followed.
In terms of relating to the parable, we are the “invited” (those baptized) who are daily choosing whether or not to come to the banquet (final judgement). Sometimes, the invited will choose not to come. Then the “uninvited” (sinners) are asked to come. Whether we wear the “wedding garment” (motive for treating others) or not is our ultimate choice. And whatever our choice, there will be effects.