Year A 28th Sunday: Matthew 22:01-14

22:01   Jesus began to speak to them in parables once again,

22:02   'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king

who gave a feast for his son's wedding.Picture meditation: 20 September

22:03   He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come.

22:04   Next he sent some more servants with the words, "Tell those who have been invited:

            Look, my banquet is all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered,

            everything is ready. Come to the wedding."

22:05   But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business,

22:06   and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.

22:07   The king was furious.

He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town.

22:08   Then he said to his servants,

"The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy,

22:09   go to the main crossroads and invite everyone you can find to come to the wedding."

22:10   So these servants went out onto the roads and collected together everyone

they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

22:11   When the king came in to look at the guests

he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment,

22:12   and said to him, "How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?"

            And the man was silent.

22:13   Then the king said to the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot and throw him

into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth."

22:14   For many are invited but not all are chosen.'


According to the Greek text Jesus is ‘answering’. Answering whom? About what? Is it still an answer to the question of the High Priests and the Elders in 21:23: ‘What authority have you...?’ There Jesus answered with the question if the baptism of John had a heavenly origin or a human one? They refused to answer.

Since then Jesus spoke to them in parables. The parable of the man with two sons whom he asked to labour in his vineyard (21:28-32); and the parable of the wicked tenants in the vineyard (21:33-46). Now we hear a third parable: about those who are called to the wedding but refuse to come. The content of these parables is always the same. The High Priests and Elders belonged to the first ones who were called to share God’s life. They were meant to practise God’s Law. But they did not. Thus God’s Kingship goes to others, Jesus’ disciples, ‘sinners and tax collectors’ in the eyes of the High Priests and the Elders.


What a strange story! If I would be invited to the wedding of one of the princes I would have noted it in my diary with golden letters; I would probably have bought an expensive suit and I would have told everybody that I was invited by the queen personally to come to the wedding of her grandson. And I certainly would not have thought about killing the messengers who would bring me the invitation. But in Jesus’ conception the people of God behaved in such a bizarre way indeed.

The parable doesn’t say that the people are ‘invited’, they are ‘called’. The messengers have to ‘call’ those who are ‘called’ (vss.3.[2x]. the story tells about a vocation: the vocation to share the greatest festivity you can imagine. How could I refuse that? Of course, Jesus means (the religious leaders of) God’s people who refuse to live the life of mercy and grace. Because they refuse, others are to be called to live the festive life of love and grace. They are the actual disciples of Jesus: former sinners and tax collectors and pagans, but now sharing his life.

No wedding garment

In the Bible clothes are often a symbol of a person’s heart. The white baptismal robe means the pure way of life of Jesus. Paul writes, in his letter to the Collosians (3:12), ‘As the chosen of God, then, the holy people whom he loves, you are to be clothed in heartfelt compassion, in generosity and humility, gentleness and patience.’ That is the wedding garment in Jesus’ parable. The garment of a life of love and compassion.

Burning down their city

An unexpected detail is the fact that the town of those who refuse is burned down. Is that a reference to the actuality of Matthew? Is Matthew writing this story after the destruction of Jerusalem? And is this the way the first Christians tried to give meaning to this disaster? Did they see it as a punishment of the Lord? I hope not. But it certainly contains a warning: who refuses to receive love and grace will live in a world without love and grace.

Picture Meditation

In the upper left corner Jesus is telling the parable. Then the parable is unrolled in eight rows.

At the beginning of the parable the king is residing. He does so too at the beginning of the second, the third and the fourth row.  Halfway the fifth row the guests receive a yellow scarf, a scarf the king is wearing from the beginning. There the king is no longer residing, but standing upright next to his guests. His posture is slightly bowed; he looks much older than in the beginning of the story... Is he marked by the foregoing events?

In the lowest row there is a man clothed in an undershirt without a yellow scarf. In the lower left corner he is thrown out.

In the opposite corner I see Jesus again, now with a little child besides him. Is that a reference to the words Jesus spoke earlier, ‘Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingship of Heaven’(18:3)?

Where am I in Jesus’ story? In the picture?

Or could it be that there were periods in my life which fitted with every person in the picture? It is all about vocation? What is my vocation? Does it feel as an invitation for a wedding?

Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J