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The wedding dinner


(The men called to the marriage),

where again the Jewish people are referred to as ‘the called’, but the apostles and the messengers of the Christian faith, 'the servants'. As 'the called' did not want to come to the wedding dinner, the Kingdom of God, the gospel of faith moved 'out into the highways', to other nations. Some of these nations probably did not possess very high religious qualities at the time, but they became very zealous in serving God.

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen" (Mt. 22:2-14).

In the context of the two previous parables and what was explained above, this parable does not require specific explanation. As we know from history, the kingdom of the Lord, the Church, came over from the Jews to the rest of the world, successfully spreading among the peoples of the ancient Roman Empire and shining in the hosts of the uncountable servants of God.

The ending of the parable of the wedding dinner speaks of a man lying at the table, 'not in the wedding garment’, which is a bit mysterious. To understand this phrase one must be aware of the customs of the time. When kings called guests for their celebrations, for example in the marriage of a king's son, they presented garments to their guests so that the dress of everyone at the banquet be clean and beautiful. But, according to this parable, one of the guests preferred his own clothing to that of the royal dress. He obviously did so out of pride, as he considered his attire to be better than the king's. Having rejected the royal garment, he lacked decorum and grieved the king. And for his pride he was cast from the feast into the 'outer darkness'. In Holy Scripture, a garment is the symbol for the state of one’s conscience. The light, white garment symbolizes a clean soul and righteousness, which God, out of His grace, gives to a person so that it can be taken freely. The man ignoring the king's dress depicts those arrogant Christians who deny God's grace and consecration, which are given them in the mysteries, or, sacraments, of the Church. These self-confident righteous may include those contemporary sectarians who deny confession, communion and other mysteries that are given to the Church by Christ for the salvation of people. Setting themselves up as saints, the sectarians also belittle the meaning of the Christian struggles of fasting, voluntary chastity, monasticism, and so forth, though Holy Scripture clearly tells us about these ascetic practices. By the words of the Apostle Paul, these seemingly righteous are just "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof," because the power of piety is not in appearance alone but in the unseen, personal struggle (2 Tim. 3:5).

The parables about the wicked husbandmen and the men called to the marriage were told first of all about the Jewish people; however, they are not limited to this interpretation. All other nations towards whom God manifests His great mercy became accountable as well. The ancient Byzantine Empire was devastated by the Turks for her sins. The events of this century speak of God's judgement over Russia, which, during the last century before the revolution, was beguiled by materialism, nihilism and other non-Christian teachings. "One's sin is the tool of one's punishment!" Everyone knows how the Russian people were punished for their denial of faith and the salvation of the soul!

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