St. Matthew’s parable of the king who gives his son a wedding banquet only to be disappointed by the people refusing to come is the third in a series of parables addressed to the chief priests and elders. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort to figure out that in these three parables (stretched out over the past three weeks) Jesus is speaking to them about themselves, about the fact that they are the ones who have failed to work in the vineyard of the Lord and who have failed to accept God’s invitation to the wedding feast.
Appended to this last parable is a fourth parable which in the view of Scripture scholars originally stood alone. By appending it to the parable of the wedding feast, St. Matthew gives a little bit of a jolt. After all, the king told his troops to go out and bring in whomever they found on the highways and byways and in the plaza in the middle of the town. This man obviously didn’t leave his home that morning figuring that he would be eating his supper with the king. He was probably dressed as he would have been on any ordinary workday. So how can the king treat him so badly simply because he was not dressed appropriately.
There is a line in the parable that we might simply overlook. St. Matthew tells us that when the king criticized his manner of dress, “He was reduced to silence.” (Matthew 22:12c) Instead of speaking up and offering a reason or even expressing his sorrow for appearing in unsuitable attire, he simply stands before the king in silence. While the parable of the wedding feast is addressed to the chief priests and elders, I believe that this parable is addressed to all of us. After all, if we are honest, none of us is worthy of being invited to the heavenly banquet. Sinners all, we will only experience the heavenly banquet because of God’s mercy and compassion, because God forgives us our sins. However, in order to be forgiven, we have to admit our guilt and ask God’s forgiveness. If we, like the fellow in this parable, simply are reduced to silence, , , Well, I will let you fill in the rest of that statement.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator