Jesus knew very well how the people of Galilee enjoyed themselves in the weddings they celebrated in the villages. Without a doubt, he himself took part in more than one. What experience could have been more joyful for those people than to be invited to a wedding and to be able to sit down with their neighbors to share a wedding feast together?
This remembrance from Jesus’ childhood helped him later on to communicate his experience of God in a new and surprising way. According to Jesus, God is preparing a final banquet for all God’s children, since God wants to see them all seated, at God’s side, enjoying forever a life filled with happiness.
We can say that Jesus understood his whole life as a grand invitation to a final party in God’s name. That’s why Jesus doesn’t impose anything by force, he doesn’t pressure anyone. He announces God’s Good News, he awakens confidence in the Father, he lights up hope in their hearts. Everyone needs to receive his invitation.
What has been this invitation from God? Who announces it? Who is listening? Where in the Church do we talk about this final party? Satisfied with our own well-being, deaf to whatever isn’t in our immediate interest, do we not need God any longer? Are we getting used to living little by little without the need to nourish our final hope?
Jesus is a realist. He knew that God’s invitation can be rejected. In the parable of «those invited to the wedding feast» he speaks of the various reactions of those who are invited. Some reject the invitation out of hand: «they didn’t want to go». Others responded with complete indifference: «they paid no attention». More important to them were their fields and businesses.
But according to the parable, God doesn’t get discouraged. In the end result, there will be a final party. God’s desire is that the banquet hall be full of invited guests. That’s why we need to go to the “main crossroads”, where so many wandering people walk, who live without hope or future. The Church needs to keep announcing faithfully and joyfully God’s invitation that is proclaimed in Jesus’ Gospel.
Pope Francis is concerned about preaching that is obsessed «with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed». The great danger, according to him, is that now «it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have the fragrance of the Gospel».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf