We Are Invited – Not Entitled

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com

August 19, 2021
Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.

He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.

A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’

Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.

The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.

Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

I sometimes think we might be a bit spoiled. We believe we are entitled to things – they’re a birthright.
For instance, this year had some truly amazing performances through the year, especially by Americans, in sports.
There were world records set and times and distances were marked that were truly amazing.

Then, those world records and times and distances didn’t mean anything once the Olympics got here. It wasn’t just Americans who didn’t measure up. But it was glaring, in that we got to the end of the Olympics and saw how few Gold Medals were won by Americans.

Your great performances aren’t a guarantee of the future.

That is why I look at today’s Gospel as a cautionary tale. The King is God, and the celebration is for his Son, Jesus.

He originally sends his messengers (prophets) to prepare his chosen people – the Jews – for the wedding of his son (to the bride – the church). The Jews paid no attention.

Then, he sent more messengers (prophets).
This time, some of the Jews did pay attention. Still others were more concerned with things of the world – one went to his business, another to his farm. And others (leaders afraid of losing their power) set upon the messengers (prophets) and beat them and killed them.

This time the King was incensed, and he sent his armies to destroy them (exile and taking from their homes to be imprisoned in foreign countries).

The invitation then goes out to all (good and bad – strangers to the King). All were invited to the feast – Jews and Gentiles alike.
Here is the cautionary portion. One man, invited like all the others, comes to the feast – but he isn’t prepared. He doesn’t have wedding garments.

He thinks, because he was invited, he is entitled to the feast. He didn’t respect the King or the Son.

The King always sees. When the King asks him why no wedding garments, the man can’t answer – he can’t say why he lived the way he did.

He is thrown out into the darkness; bound by the sins he didn’t deem in need of forgiveness.

We do have a right to Heaven but not by what we do but by the Grace – that unearned gift of God’s love. With that invitation comes a requirement. We must look after those less fortunate than us. We must clothe ourselves in that wedding garment. In Afghanistan, right now, there is great need for our help. Women and children are especially vulnerable. We can’t sit in the feast and ignore that or we will be bound by our callous disregard of God’s creatures.

Do you want to go to the feast?

Then begin clothing yourself in the Wedding Garment. Prepare yourself or you will find yourself in the darkness – bound up by your sins and gnashing your teeth.

At least that’s what I heard Him say…

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