Wedding Feast (# 1069)

2 10 2016

1. Matthew 22:1-14:

 “The kingdom of Heaven,” he said, “is like a king who arranged a wedding for his son. He sent his servants to summon those who had been invited to the festivities, but they refused to come. Then he tried again; he sent some more servants, saying to them, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Here is my wedding-breakfast all ready, my bullocks and fat cattle have been slaughtered and everything is prepared. Come along to the festivities.”’ But they took no notice of this and went off, one to his farm, and another to his business. As for the rest, they got hold of the servants, treated them disgracefully, and finally killed them. At this the king was very angry and sent his troops and killed those murderers and burned down their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is quite ready, but those who were invited were not good enough for it. So go off now to all the street corners and invite everyone you find there to the feast.’ So the servants went out on to the streets and collected together all those whom they found, bad and good alike. And the hall became filled with guests. But when the king came in to inspect the guests, he noticed among them a man not dressed for a wedding. ‘How did you come in here, my friend,’ he said to him, ‘without being properly dressed for the wedding?’ And the man had nothing to say. Then the king said to the ushers, ‘Tie him up and throw him into the darkness outside. There he can weep and regret his folly!’ For many are invited but few are chosen.” (J.B.Phillips translation)

When one thinks about a wedding feast, one does not think about people being murdered and cities being burned down. This is a quite shocking interlude in the middle of this Gospel reading for today. Matthew was written shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem; the city destroyed in the parable is Jerusalem. That makes the Romans acting as God’s troops. In other words, God used them.

The second part is a different story–that of the wedding garment. As a parable, many are invited but they need to make a response. In this case it is wearing the appropriate garment. All can be sinners but when they get there the response. It may be a confession of sins. In the parable the man may have come for the wrong reasons. He may have come in through the window rather than the door. When confronted he is speechless.

I looked into this because I was uncomfortable when I read the passage yesterday. It helps to understand the intention of the author. Sometimes we need to be shocked to see more clearly. Whether it is Christianity or another tradition, if we ignore the invitation to the feast (spiritual awakening) and continue with worldly pursuits, we will miss the feast entirely. If we come unprepared, it will backfire and we will find ourselves back outside.This works as a more general metaphor.

We are constantly in battle with our ordinary mind. As I have been contemplating how my thoughts engage most of my attention and keep me from seeing through to my pristine mind, I have been thinking about images of the Temptation of Saint Anthony. In this case, St. Anthony was dreaming he was surrounded with demons. In out case these demons or ordinary thoughts are with us all the time. We even may think we are these thoughts because we can not see through to our calm original mind that we were born with.

Image result for st anthony and the demons

Martin Schoengauer. Temptation of Saint Anthony. 1470s

I realize it may seem a bit of stretch to go from the Parable of the Wedding Feast to using the Temptation of Saint Anthony as a metaphor for our minds. For the moment I am going to leave it here and allow things to percolate.

2.F. Thoughts are the real demons. Thoughts come from the mind.

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