Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Priory, NOLA
It's part of our job as Preaching Friars is to make sure that as many people as possible hear Christ's invitation to join the Wedding Feast. It's SOP nowadays to think of this job as extensions of PC culture's obsession with diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. That's fine as far as it goes. Everyone is to be included in the invitation, w/o remainder. But the parable Jesus tells reveals that there are some less than PC elements to the invitation project. First, potential guests can refuse to attend. No big deal. Except that there are consequences for refusing. Second, the invitation can be ignored. Again, not such a big deal except for the consequences of doing so. Third, fed up with being rejected and ignored, the Lord sends us out to invite anyone who will listen. This gambit fills the banquet hall! But now we are confronted by the man improperly dressed. He accepts the invitation. Arrives at the feast. But does so unprepared. That is, he says he wants to be guest and shows up as a guest, but he doesn't bother to change his clothes. He doesn't bother to change his life. He wants all the benefits of being a guest but none of the responsibilities. He ends up bound and gagged and bounced on the street.
Commenting on this tussle, the Lord, says, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” This may make us squirm a bit. Our original mission as bearers of the invitation makes us uncomfortable with a guest getting bounced. And that bit about being “chosen” is more disturbing still. Who's chosen? And who does the choosing? Maybe we can take some comfort in the fact that those invited do the choosing. When the Lord's invitation to the Wedding Feast is made, received, and accepted, the guest knows that he/she will be attending a Wedding Feast. He/she has freely chosen then to prepare for the feast and show up properly dressed. When benefits flow, responsibilities accrue. Choosing to take on the latter means taking on the former. Fortunately for us, as Preaching Friars, our job is announcing the invitation. What we can't do is play bouncer or pretend to be the Lord. Nor can we pretend that there won't be those who reject or ignore the invite, or those who will accept and arrive unprepared. What we can do is attend to them and do everything we can to help them be better prepared when next invitation arrives.
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