Those invited to the wedding feast refused to show up; they refused to attend the wedding feast. But what was wrong with their refusal to attend? Were they not free to choose to attend or not to attend? Well, before we pass any judgment on them, let us look at the setting of this parable in today’s gospel passage. At that time and in that culture, whenever anyone was organizing a special occasion, the person would send out two sets of invitations. The first invitation is like what we call, “Save the Date,” which prepares our prospective invitees for the final invitation. In those days, their “Save the Date” did not have an actual date, it only told the prospective invitees that there was going to be an occasion and the nature of the occasion, but not the date and the time. The second and final invitation came whenever everything for the occasion was ready.
For today’s parable, those who refused to attend the wedding feast were culpable; the king had every reason to be upset because whenever the first invitation was sent, those who got the invitation would make a commitment, they would promise that they would attend the feast. The invitees must have already promised they were going to attend, and when the time came for the feast, they said they had better things to do.
It also seemed the king was preparing this feast for his only son since there was no mention of his siblings in this passage. So, the king had to put in the best he had in preparation for this feast. The passage shows not everyone in town got the invitation; he must have invited his most trusted and respected friends to the feast, but when the time came, they disappointed him. The king then decided to consider those who did not get the first invitation, those who probably, were not even as worthy as the original invitees. He had to do so because he had promised his son this feast; he must keep his word.
There are many layers to this parable. However, let us focus on a layer that affects us today. The first invitation was a “Save the Date.” The invitees did not know exactly when the feast would be. God created the universe; he created each one of us as a unique part of his creation. This world has so many questions; this world has so many problems. Each of us is a unique answer to a specific question of this world; each one of us is a unique solution to a specific problem of this world. But like the “Save the Date” that does not have a date, we do not know the specific time God will need us, and we do not know the details of the need.
There are times we find ourselves better than others. If we fail to offer help when we can, we become like those who refused to attend the wedding feast. They had the opportunity to bring joy to the king and his son simply by their presence, but they withheld those. Sometimes, all a person might need from us is as simple as an affirmation, an acknowledgment, a listening ear, a loving, compassionate and non-judgmental presence.
On another occasion, we may be that son whose wedding feast is the subject of the parable in the gospel passage. God has prepared everything for you and for me; however he needs a guest to attend that feast he has prepared for you and for me. If those he has trusted to attend, to be the answers and the solutions to our questions and problems refuse to assist us, God will still make sure it happens, but he will choose other people to be the answers to our questions and solutions to our problems. So do not give up when those you rely on disappoint you; God will still make it happen.
And if you are the one that God has chosen to be the solution to someone else’s problem and you decide to hold back your talent, and you decide to hold back that which you can offer, I have news for you: God will push you aside and pick someone else who is not even as talented as you, who may not even be as qualified as you, and accomplish that which he wants. No one can stop the will of God; no one can stop the plans of God; we are only privileged channels, for our help ultimately comes from God. That is why, like I have shared with you many times, it is not enough for you to count your blessings, it is necessary for you to share your blessings because you have been blessed to bless. My dearly beloved in Christ, we now have the “Save the Date,” we are not sure of the specific date; we have our talents, we are not sure of the specific people, the specific events that God has called us to serve. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to discover our talents, grant us the grace to use such talents for the good of all and the glory of God, until we come to our heavenly inheritance, through Christ our Lord. Amen.