In Palestine, when a man plans a party, the date was announced long beforehand and invitations were sent and accepted. But the hour of the party was never announced. When everything was prepared, the servants were sent to the invited guests. Thus, to refuse the invitation on the day itself was a great insult.
The master in the parable is God. God has prepared a banquet for all and promised sinners a seat in the dining table. But the excuses of the guests are as relevant and true today. Like the first man who bought a field and wanted to see it, it is possible that we can be so immersed in our own businesses, our own activities and personal concerns that we forget to pray and to find some time for God. Or like the second who bought five yokes of oxen and wanted to try them out, that new friendships, new hobbies, new possessions can take away what should be kept for God. And finally like the third who just had a wife, that something as beautiful as family can defocus us from the ultimate source of our happiness. We can get caught up with the gifts, and forget the giver.
Second, preparation is indeed very important in the Parable of the Wedding Feast. In Jewish custom, the date of the wedding is announced, but the hour is never announced. This means that the guests are given ample time to prepare for the feast, and that the feast becomes the event of the day. The wedding is therefore special to everyone. It is the highlight and the most significant celebration of all times. And furthermore, the host of the celebration becomes the central figure of their lives. That is why the King threw the man without a wedding garment. Not that garbs are important. It is because what we wear displays our inner disposition. We come to a party in party clothes. We come to mass appropriately dressed to show that the Eucharist is central in our lives. We wear uniforms because we believe in the dignity of education. We garb ourselves in formal wear when we meet somebody important to show our esteem for them. By not wearing a wedding garment, the guest showed that he did not respect the King.
A final word: it is indeed interesting that Jesus thought of the Kingdom in terms of a feast. There is a form of Christianity that is dark and gloomy, a Christianity that takes away the colors from life. There is indeed a danger for most of us to view our religion as a religion of sorrows. We remember our Good Fridays but we forget our Easters. We remember our helplessness but we forget hope. We celebrate because we believe that there is always hope. That there is heaven. Healthy laughter is very Christian. Hope must permeate the very core of our faith. To attend mass is to feast. Conversely, to refuse God’s invitation is to refuse to feast. It is to refuse to celebrate. We Christians should show the world that we are forever at a wedding feast.