Most of us have been to quite a few weddings. A wedding is a time of great joy and celebration. A new covenant is being formed between two individuals and indeed between two families. The family members are eager to welcome new members into their family. It is an occasion that demands special preparations and anyone who has ever been a part of a wedding knows that those preparations can be quite extensive at times. A wedding requires a lot of planning and preparations. The wedding reception often involves a banquet, dancing and special rites that highlight and celebrate the new life that the couple is embarking upon. It is quite an honor to be invited to a wedding for it implies a special relationship with the couple that is being married. Only family members, special friends and people important to the couple are included on the invitation list. When one attends a wedding there are special garments that we wear to a wedding to show our respect for the couple, for the beautiful occasion of the wedding and to indicate that we understand how important this occasion is in the life of those who participate. We would never show up dressed in jeans and a t-shirt as it would dishonor not only ourselves but also the hosts and indeed everyone at the wedding.
Our relationship with God involves a royal wedding. There has been a centuries long courtship between God and humanity. God has time and time again proved the sincerity of his love and has proven himselffaithful to that love. In Jesus the Christ, the Word made Flesh, God has wed the divine nature with human nature. The Church is a sacrament of the love affair between God and humanity and the sign of a new covenant in love. In Jesus, God has extended the invitation to all of humanity to be a part of his extended family. Jesus is the bridegroom and his love for his bride, the Church, has been proven through his Passion and his “love to the end” on the cross. Through the marriage of the Church, the bride, and Christ Jesus, the bridegroom, we are invited to the beginning of a new life that involves the gift of eternal life. At this wedding, all of those who participate become a part of the royal family. The Eucharist is a sacrament of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and his bride the Church. It is the wedding banquet to which God the Father invites us all in celebration of this new life and love. In the Eucharist we proclaim, “Blessed are those who are called to the supper of theLamb,” to the wedding feast of the Lamb of God with humanity. We would be foolish to turn down an invitation to this great feast of life and love. This is truly the event of a lifetime!
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us a parable about a wedding feast. The Father, the King, has prepared a great wedding feast for his Son and has sent out invitations to a great wedding banquet andsurprisingly we find that many of those who are invited find that they have better things to do than to attend this wedding. Some ignore the invitation, others involve themselves in the business of the world and some others even become violently opposed to the wedding. It is a prophetic depiction of how many people stand in relation to the Eucharist today. Many can’t be bothered to attend the Eucharist on Sunday, some ignore the invitation, others involve themselves in their jobs and hobbies and others even oppose the celebration of the Eucharist and threaten to shut it down. The Father is not pleased that so few of his so-called “friends and family members” can be bothered with attending the wedding feast that he has so carefully prepared. What could be more important than being a part of this great feast of new life and eternal love?
Jesus also tells us of a person who comes to the wedding feast unprepared and unwilling to show respect for the Bride and the Bridegroom and for the King himself who is giving the feast. The King provides the wedding garment of holiness for the attendants to wear but there is a guest who refuses to wear the garment to the feast. God the Father, the King, is holy and we must always cloth ourselves in holiness if we are to come into his presence. Where do we find ourselves in relation to the great wedding feast of the Eucharist? Do we answer the invitation each week to be a part of the celebration? Do we suitably prepare ourselves for this beautiful feast prepared by the Father? Do we just show up in our daily, worldly garments of secularity and expect that this will be acceptable to the Father? I think we can all find a challenge in this parable for ourselves to find a greater appreciation for the Eucharist and the grace of being invited to be participants in this great banquet of love and eternal life. Next time you are getting ready for mass, think about this parable and whether you have really appreciated the gift of the invitation to participate in the divine life and gifts of the Father! Come to the feast, but come prepared!