Jesus himself is the garment we need in order to take part in the heavenly feast. By clothing ourselves with him, we are assured of entry into the banquet of the Kingdom.
The guests come from street corners. But even so, only one does not get to put on, to his own harm, the wedding garment.
God is good to all, yes, and there is no one who can thwart his goodness. Not even rejection or lack of interest on the part of those he has invited dampens his goodness. On the contrary, he shows himself more kind as he invites everyone to the banquet he has prepared. And he supplies whatever we need according to his glorious riches.
But make no mistake: God is not mocked. He expects every guest to wear a wedding garment.
To what does the necessary wedding garment refer?
There is no answer in the parable itself. Nor are commentaries unanimous. But we know that the kingdom of God demands repentance.
Rightfully, then, does one state that the required garment refers to repentance, change of heart and mind. And the “good” and “bad” alike must wear this garment.
And so, it does not matter if we are religious leaders who think ourselves good. Nor does it matter that we are among those whom the same leaders consider bad. After all, both groups have to repent and produce good fruit as evidence of their repentance.
And the fruit of repentance is the same as the fruit of righteousness. According Micah, to repent of our sins is only to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before our God.
The one who goes home justified is not the Pharisee who boasts of his observance. Rather, it is the publican who, confessing his sinfulness, humbles himself before God. And if the Hebrew “tzedakah” is any indication, justice is charity and charity, justice.
One cannot enter, then, the kingdom of God without the garment of works of righteousness and mercy. We shall inherit the kingdom only if we help the least of the brothers and sisters of Christ, if we do not refuse them compassion. Otherwise, the gate of heaven will close on us.
Needless to say, Jesus embodies the necessary wedding garment. Those who clothe themselves with him are sure of salvation. Says St. Vincent de Paul (SV.EN III:384):
We cannot better assure our eternal happiness than by living and dying in the service of the poor, in the arms of Providence, with genuine renouncement of ourselves in order to follow Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, you invite us to your Supper. Make us recognize you in the poor and, in that way, get to wear the necessary wedding garment.
15 October 2017
28th Sunday in O.T. (A)
Is 25, 6-10a; Phil 4,12-14. 19-20; Mt 22, 1-14