Matthew 22:1-14 (NRSV)
22Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, 'Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.' 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.' 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?' And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14For many are called, but few are chosen."
In Jesus’ parable we hear about a guest at a royal wedding who shows up without the proper attire. In our time of sartorial abandon, we might wonder “what’s the big deal?” But even so we could admit that there is something about showing respect for the occasion and gratitude for the invitation. Individuality is great, but obstinance is not a virtue.
To speak of “obstinance” may suggest what the real problem is here, however—the guest refuses to join in the festivity. His clothing reflects a spirit unwilling to rejoice, unwilling to be moved and changed by the joyous occasion he’s supposedly celebrating. How might our choices reflect a spirit unwilling to partake of the joy that comes from life with God? How might we open ourselves to being changed by God’s presence and care, so that we can rejoice all the more?
Almighty God, through your Spirit you draw us ever closer to you. Open our hearts to be conformed to your will, and let our outward choices be guided by an inner spirit of peaceful rejoicing; through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.