Matthew 22:1-14 (NRSV)
Chapter 22Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: Verse 2"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. Verse 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Verse 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.' Verse 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, Verse 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. Verse 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Verse 8Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Verse 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.' Verse 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. Verse 11"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, Verse 12and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?' And he was speechless. Verse 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.' Verse 14For many are called, but few are chosen."
Matthew closes this reading with a traditional Jewish saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” We best interpret this declaration in light of two themes: inclusive table fellowship at the center of Jesus’ ministry and Matthew’s parable here presented. The former emphasizes how “many are called” to the table because the host’s hospitality welcomes all, including those society rejects. Matthew’s parable, conversely, highlights the rejection of a wedding attendee for inappropriate attire, which, even if symbolically taken to represent not attiring oneself in the actions of love, conveys the tone of how “few are chosen.” This calls to mind the relation of law and gospel. The law—whether civil, accusing, or guiding—surely is a worldly necessity, but judgments about lawful worthiness ought not jeopardize the good news that God invites all to come to the table to commune and dance within the divine community of freedom and love.
O Triune God, Cosmic Dancer, Christic Dance, and Communal Dancing, attune us to your continual invitations to participate in your festive party, giving us the care, creativity, and imagination to lovingly dance our way into other lives and communities, that we might use our humanity and worldliness to be an instrument of your love for the world. Amen.