“Many are called, few are chosen” by Patrick Sullivan

“Many are called, few are chosen”                                          Reflection for 29th Sunday

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a King who gave a wedding banquet for his son.  He tells the story of the King who first issues invitations to selected guests to his son’s wedding; the guests refuse to come.  These guests refer to the Israelites, who were expecting the Messiah, yet when they were invited they would not come; they did not believe in him.  They did not accept Jesus as their Messiah.

In the second instance the King extends his invitation again elaborating further what incentives are on offer; the description of the banquet is used to portray the incentives.  Some paid no attention to the second invitation; others seized the messengers, treated them badly and killed them.  This reflects the violent opposition that Jesus encountered in the days before his death; Jesus warned his enemies of the judgment they would receive.

Finally the King invites all and sundry to the feast, good or bad, everyone was invited.  What began as a select guest list becomes an indiscriminate one.  A requirement however was to wear a wedding garment; this represents a willingness to ‘marry’ the son; to take on board Jesus’s teachings.  Hearing the invitation is the first step; this is not enough however to gain access to the kingdom.  Hearing must be followed by understanding and understanding must lead to action.  Silent attendance is not enough.

Where do we recognise ourselves in this parable?  Are we amongst the invited guests who stayed away?  Perhaps we did not hear the invitation?   The wedding invitation is extended to everyone, and God provides our wedding garments for us.  Those that Jesus refers to as the ‘chosen’ ones are those that respond to the invitation to come to the feast and respond wholeheartedly to following the path Jesus has laid out for us, that is to recognise and seek God’s mercy for our failings and to commit ourselves to love.