God is abundance. So gracious and overflowing in all goodness that we can only call it love; creative love, sustaining love, and saving love.
In all his fullness, God and his kingdom is beyond our understanding or even full appreciation.
And we can never describe it adequately, it is always more, greater in every aspect.
Certainly greater than of my words or any words for the Word of God was before all, is all, and in the fullness of time be all.
Because of our human condition, Isaiah calls it a veil over the nations, we have distanced ourselves from God, we are out of touch with the devine, out of right relationship with God, who loves us, and we are unable (at least in this life) to fully know Him.
We have only our limited minds, imaginations and inadequate words to talk about God and our experience with Him.
Jesus knew this, though he knew God, and so he used parables, to help us understand the truth.
How often did he use the phrase "the kingdom of God is like"
The Kingdom of God is like a great Kings wedding banquet.
In the first reading Isaiah gives us a hint of God’s feast. He tells Israel that on the Lord's mountain (where God dwells and rules as king) there will be for all people a feast of rich food and choice wines, not only rich and choice, but juicy and pure. It is better than the best.
And this pure and choice feast will be the wiping away tears, ending oppression and destroying death. It certainly includes; protecting all human life, giving priority to the poor and vulnerable, It will insure peace for all peoples.
God's great feast is also inclusive as he gathers all people together and together (as one) they will rejoice and be glad for God has kept his saving promise.
And this rejoicing and gladness at the banquet table sounds like the responsaorial psalm
"The Lord is my Shepard I shall not want . . . You spread your table before me"
We shall not want, we shall have our fill, (in Christ) for God’s abundant grace is life giving and life renewing and enlivens our human nature to reach beyond its limitations.
St Paul says
"I can do all things in him who strengthens me"
Not some things or the things I am good at or things I think are important or worthy,
God strengthens all things undertaken for his glory and the good of others.
God's grace reaches out to all who reach out to him and He is always generous and merciful .
"My God “ Paul says “will fully supply whatever you need"
So we have God who is generous beyond measure and his kingdom which is likened to a wedding banquet full of good and choice things, yet we know many turn their back to God's invitation? Many who do not think the offer is good enough?
Not good enough to give up grasping worldliness, self-centered concerns, and rivalries, not worth the sacrifices it's obtaining might entail.
We know still others who believe God is a fanciful lie, a children's story that no adult could base a life on. This is human folly and the question we hear throughout scripture and most directly in Jesus' parables is "why would you not want to be at God's wedding banquet"?
So back to the parable.
The king sends out his servants (twice) to invite the lucky guests to the great wedding feast.
Some ignored the King's requests; some had more important things to do, some thought their time was more precious than the Kings.
The King’s servants doing the kings bidding were abused and seriously mistreated.
We heard last week that the owner of the vineyard (another likeness to the kingdom of God) sent his son, to bring about justice - they killed him instead.
Sounds familiar doesn't it.
The hard hearted and prideful turned their backs to their rightful king.
In just anger the king declares
"The feast is ready, but those invited are not worthy to come. Go out, therefore and invite whomever you find"
Go out to the darkest corners of the city, go to the forgotten places and bring every one back the King commands.
We see this redeeming generosity echoed in Jesus who had table fellowship with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners, all those marginalized by the smug and the self-righteous.
In their blindness they could not see that Jesus was showing them what God's kingdom looked like.
By now the king's banquet hall was full with the good and the bad, every walk of life, every kind of person including the least desirable crowded around the great banquet table, to share in the Kings many gifts and pleasures.
Then comes an unsettling twist.
"The king comes and he sees a man who had come without a wedding garment.
The king addresses the guest "my friend" he says "how is it you have come without a wedding garment?"
The guest (who most likely had never spoken to a king or better still, think of standing before the Lord yourself), had no answer and in anger the king had the guest thrown out (of the light) into the darkness.
Now, we could say it was unfair for the guest to be tossed out. After all it was an unexpected, last minute invite. How was the guest to know? Did the guest even have a wedding garment? Besides, he came when the others, more deserving invitees had not even bothered to show up.
Whatever the wedding garments represents it does make clear that we must be ready and prepared for this most marvelous invite.
The point is - what gets us to the feast will not keep us there. Being invited is a good thing, but remaining at table is better. There seems to be in this parable, the laying out of the ongoing dynamics of salvation; gift, choice, and mission.
God's gift (His invitation) starting with faith and ending in salvation, is made clear in the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus. It is free, it is generously given and certainly it is unmerited on our part.
We start by saying accepting the Kings invitation to the abundant gift of new life here and now (to be lived out in discipleship) and eternal life (in praise and glory) in God’s kingdom to come.
Yet, we must be clothed and in our right mind (as the gospel song tells us)
So we can stand before the King, grateful, humble and with a pure and undivided heart.
These are our wedding garment made new by God’s grace.
Remember, It doesn’t end with the invite or just showing up. We must live out our acceptance to God's invitation with more than baptism, conformation and mass attendance. These just get you the invite and the invite is just the beginning.
At the wedding feast we are honored guests, delighted and joyful, but we are also the obedient servants doing our part in inviting others to join us, showing people, by our lives, what it means to sit at the table of the Lord.
We are both undeserving sinner and newly formed prophet.
We are invited early or late. We arrive on time or as the meal is being served or even as desert is offered.
It doesn't matter, but the quality of the heart does matters,
"for many are invited, but few are chosen"