The Parable of the Wedding Banquet can be troubling and confusing.
Big chunks of Matthew can be troubling and confusing! Those of you that joined the Noon Bible Study of Matthew know this. One of the challenges is this sudden shift about Chapter 22, when there is a sudden harshness of judgment oracles.
Best I can tell this is a symbolic picture of Matthew’s church. Each one of Matthew’s readers can probably recognize their own face as they are gathered at the son’s wedding banquet – those who were invited, those invited late, the gathering of the good and bad. And they are jammed into this churchly banquet hall, both good and bad.
Near the end we hear a traditional Jewish saying – “many are called, but few are chosen”. Like yesterday’s reflection about “never getting there”, this is not meant to be read literally, but means “God wants everybody at the party, but not everyone wants to come or knows how to behave once they get there.”
Usually parables have a disconnect with reality. This certainly fits the bill, with much of this not making sense. Some are cajoled in off the street unexpectedly and then judged for not being ready? Huh? There is certainly an underlay of a judgement oracle urging us as Christians to discern who we are and how we live. Jesus wants us to be different, act different, feel different.
Do we come to the church with a sense of awe and wonder? How are we joyful or prepared to belong to the church? Are we coming as children of the kingdom, or strutting our stuff expecting results? The “what’s in it for me” culture certainly has taken over the church of North America and it is why we are dying. The church has never been about “what’s in it for me”, but a place where awe and wonder meet up with those who are humble and open recipients of massive grace.
Only then will we get to Happy Hour.