October is not, perhaps the most obvious month for a wedding, yet this year I have three weddings, on three different Saturdays, this month. Last weekend the bride and groom were blessed with the hottest October day on record!
Yet, as I guess all of us know, planning a wedding celebration and attending to all the details can be a very exacting and very stressful task.
One such difficulty is the guest list. Who do you invite or not invite? Who do you sit next to whom? And what do you do about the people who are likely to come, but just can't be bothered to reply to the invitation?
Well, the King in the parable seems to have similar problems, and there seems go a simple message: if some of those invited can't be bothered to give the courtesy offs reply, then invite those who WILL be grateful.
But, of course, wise advice though this may be, that isn't really what the parable is about. The banquet, the Wedding Feast, is a reminder of the Eucharist, and an image of heaven, eternal life with God.
And the parable gives us a simple yet challenging message.
Firstly, God calls everyone into his Kingdom. The self-important, the self-righteous, the holier-than-thous had better beware. The rich, the wealthy, the influential, the clever, the successful - they are in danger of thinking themselves too good. The invitation is for them, but also the poor, the destitute, the weak, the uneducated, the failures of life, the sinners and the despised. They are invited too.
And there is a second point, which at first may seem to jar. It's to do with this strange detail of the man without a wedding garment. You see, while the invitation is open to everyone, this does not mean it us without conditions. Christ invites sinners, but they must be repentant sinners.
He invited all to his Wedding Feast, but accepting the invitation means accepting a faith and a way of life which changes and transforms us. In entering the Feast we become a new person - the Wedding Garment is the robe of our baptism, which symbolizes a new life in faith and trust and honesty and compassion and love. We must love as we are loved.
We must forgive as we are forgiven. We must give as we have received. As we have been invited, we must invite others.
As we enter the Feast, so we put on a wedding garment, leaving behind pettiness, and ingratitude and self-interest.