Most every Sunday evening, as we have just done, Holy Mother Church proclaims Revelation 19:1-7, for her Vesper Canticle. It is known as the ‘Wedding of the Lamb’ and we celebrate the feast and hope that we can also take part. Of course we take part in its anticipatory celebration, the Mass, but we look to eternity in hope that we can be there as well.
The first reading from Isaiah beautifully describes this hope. We hear a wonderful vision of the eternal banquet, the wedding banquet of the Lord; where rich food and wine flows, the veil of sin is no more and death is destroyed – tears will be wiped away. We will finally see what our hearts have yearned for: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!“
And the most important thing we hear from Isaiah today is the first line: ‘On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples…’ God offers this feast to all.
However, Jesus’ parable to the Pharisees, that we hear today, points out to us that not everyone decides to accept this invitation – a very sad but true actuality. Just as Adam turned his back to God in the Garden of Eden – mankind turns their back on His perpetual invitation to the heavenly wedding banquet. Jesus’s parable gave me 2 points of consideration:
In the parable we see that personal possessions and temporal desires can blind us to the importance of this invitation. Some of the invitees went back to their farm or businesses. Their narrow and shallow field of vision kept them from seeing what was really of value. Or maybe they felt they had more immediate pressing issues and that they could always accept another invitation in the future.
I have to wonder:
What is my attitude towards this invitation? Do I disregard it for my own self-perceived desires and possessions? Do I wave it off thinking that I can always accept the Lord’s invitation sometime in the future?
As Jesus continues we learn that just because the people were invited didn’t mean that they could come as they are. We see that one man hadn’t gone through the custom of wearing a wedding garment; he didn’t prepare. This might seem a bit harsh to us but Jesus was trying to point out that we need to participate in this invitation. This garment isn’t something that we need to find, it was given to us a baptism. When we are baptized we hear (or at least would if we weren’t infants):
‘You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ.See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.’
This is our participation, to keep this garment pure. It can most certainly be done, it is not impossible – just look at the saints. Pope Benedict XVI, in a 2008 homily made note of this: ‘In Baptism they received the wedding garment of divine grace, they kept it clean and purified it and made it radiant during their life, through the Sacraments. They are now taking part in the wedding feast of Heaven.’
And we can follow them by also participating in the sacraments; Pope Benedict XVI went on telling us: ‘Should it happen that we soil or even tear this garment with sin, God’s goodness does not reject or abandon us to our destiny but rather offers us, with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the possibility of restoring the wedding garment to the pristine state required for the feast.’
God has made sure that we can sit at the feast He invites us to with the wedding garment needed. All we need to do is participate.
Which leads me to the final point: Do I like to do laundry?