First Reading Commentary
The Kingdom of the Messiah is depicted here as a rich feast for all peoples united together, a figure of the Church triumphant, on the mountain of Zion. He, that is, the Messiah, will destroy death forever. The Hebrew text translates as what has been reiterated by Saint Paul: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Of course, Jesus Christ has fulfilled this by His own death and Resurrection.
Rich, juicy food and pure, choice wines for certain speak of the Holy Eucharist. These descriptions are far too sumptuous to be referring to corruptible food. In the Hebrew text, the wine translates literally to mean “of vintage”. Clearly what is also described here is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; for it is there that we are “on this mountain,” more specifically, Mount Calvary, kneeling in the shadow of the Cross, beholding “our God, to Whom we looked to save us” under the guise of bread and wine.
Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe wrote: “The very act of sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ, when we eat His Bread and drink His Chalice, we die to the world and have our life hidden with Christ in God and crucify our flesh together with its vices and evil desires.”
How could we not follow the advice offered in this Reading: “Let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!”
Second Reading Commentary
Saint Paul’s description of being able to live under any circumstance is a suitable and holy afterthought for our Lord’s words: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). With God’s grace we can deal with whatever is thrown at us.
Saint Paul continues this letter by thanking the Philippians for sharing in his distress. This is the Body of Christ at work -- sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows. In Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Ephesians, he refers to our sharing in each others good times and bad times as being fellow-initiates.
Distinguished guests are invited to the wedding feast but refuse while those with no distinction take their place; but even among these, some are deemed as unworthy and thus excluded. What is contained in this parable is one aspect of the Kingdom of heaven. Anglican biblical scholar, Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889) has pointed out that in Jewish literature the Messianic era was often likened to a feast and the Messiah Himself as a Bridegroom wedded to Israel. Therefore, the king in the parable is God, and the son is the Messiah.
From a Christian perspective, though, this marriage feast represents Christ and His Bride the Church; or as Origen of Alexandria taught, it represents Christ and the soul; he wrote: “I believe that this first call to the marriage was to more worthy souls; for God in the first place wishes those to come to the feast of the divine discourses who are more capable of understanding them. And since those who were of this kind would not come at this invitation, other servants are sent to urge them, and promising that, if they come, they will receive a dinner prepared by the King.” Reminding invited guests that the time for the feast was drawing near was a standard practice in the ancient East.
The servants are the Prophets of God. When the invited guests refuse to come, a second group of servants are sent. This second group represents the disciples of the Messiah who, like John the Baptist and most of the apostles, are mistreated and killed.
The calves and fattened cattle hint that this is a feast of majestic proportions. Unfortunately, the invited guests who are no-shows are more concerned for their worldly affairs than the son’s banquet.
Next, the king sends his servant out to invite anyone they can find, good or bad, and thus the hall was filled with guests. In following the path of this story, these strangers at the feast most likely represent those who accept and believe in the authority of the king’s son.
A man not dressed in a wedding garment is cast into the darkness outside. From this it would appear that the wedding garment represents one’s fitness for the Kingdom of heaven. And so, the heavenly banquet begins and continues on into eternity with only those who are worthy. Saint Gregory wrote: “What are we to understand of the nuptial garment, if not charity? Because it was in this the Lord clothed Himself. Therefore he who goes into the wedding feast without a wedding garment, has faith in the Church, but not charity.” Saint Augustine very authoritatively says to us: “Put on the nuptial garment: I am speaking to you who do not yet wear it. You have already come in; you are now drawing near to the banquet; and you have not yet put on a garment in honor of the Bridegroom. You are still seeking the things that are your own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s. You know the Bridegroom: it is Christ. You know the Bride: the Church. If you fittingly honor the Spouses, you shall be their children.”