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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Mat. 22:1–14. Luke 14:16–24]

IN the evening Jesus returned from Jerusalem to Bethania. Next morning, however, He went back to the city and taught in the Temple. What grieved Him most was the fickleness of the Jews and their hardness of heart. Wherefore He spoke to them this parable:

“The kingdom of heaven is like to a king who made a marriage for his son. He sent his servants to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: ‘Tell them that were invited: Behold, I have prepared my dinner, my beeves and fadings are killed and all things are ready; come ye to the wedding.’ But they neglected and went their ways, one to his farm and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death.

“But when the king heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: Go ye, therefore, into the highways, and as many as you shall find, invite to the marriage. So his servants, going out into the highways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good, and the wedding was filled with guests.

“Then the king went in it to see the guests, and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding-garment. He saith to him: ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding-garment’? But he was silent1. Then the king said to the waiters: ‘Having bound his hands and feet, cast him into exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’. For many are called, but few are chosen!”

The Parable of the Marriage-feast. The king signifies God the Father; and therefore his son is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. The bride is the Church, and the marriage-feast is our Lord’s spiritual union with the Church: the invited guests are those who are called to believe. Those who accept the invitation are those who are spiritually united to our Lord, and who have a share in the treasures of His grace. Those guests who were first invited are the Jews, who were called by God’s servants (i. e. His prophets down to St. John the Baptist) to prepare themselves by penance for the coming of the Messias. They did not obey the call; for a kingdom, the condition of belonging to which was penance, did not please them. Then God, when the work of Redemption was completed, and the Church founded, sent out other servants, namely His apostles and disciples, to warn the Jews that “all things were now ready”, and that now was the time to enter His kingdom. But, sunk as they were in carnal notions, given over to avarice, pleasure-seeking and the love of dominion, the Jews had no relish for the idea of a kingdom of grace and salvation, and paid no heed to the urgent call; and many of them—the Scribes and Pharisees—persecuted, maltreated and killed God’s servants for daring to deliver God’s message. The apostles were imprisoned, scourged &c., and St. Stephen was stoned to death, as you will see. Then Almighty God sent the Roman army to execute His judgments on the ungrateful people. The Romans killed a million of Jews and destroyed and burnt their city of Jerusalem. Then God sent His apostles among the Gentiles who had hitherto been wandering about, faithless and homeless, in the highways of the world, and invited them to the feast. These accepted His invitation, are still accepting it, and will go on doing so till, at the end of time, the Church is “filled with guests”.

In the first part of the parable our Lord relates in a few words the history of His kingdom on earth, the Church militant, up to the time of His return. He foretold that Israel, taken as a whole, would reject the Gospel, and would therefore be rejected by God; but that the Gentiles would believe, and would, little by little, be received into His Church. It is only when the wedding is completely furnished with guests that the real marriage-feast, of which the second part of the parable treats, can take place. Eternal happiness is to be understood by this marriage-feast. This, however, must be preceded by the judgment, which will prove each one, whether he has on his wedding-garment, i. e. sanctifying grace. Whosoever is not found in a state of grace will be shut out of the kingdom of heaven, and cast into the exterior darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Only one man is cited in the parable as being found without a wedding-garment, to show that not even one will escape the test. To obtain salvation it is not enough to believe and to be members of the Church: we must be clothed with, and be able to present, before the judgment-seat of God, the robe of innocence, sanctifying grace, which we received in holy Baptism, and which we must either have preserved, or been re-clothed with in the Sacrament of Penance.

Hell is a place of punishment into which no ray of grace or glory can penetrate, and which our Lord, therefore, calls a place of exterior darkness. The lost souls are imprisoned; they cannot get free, but are shut in without help and without hope. In hell there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth, pain, rage and despair!

The excuses of sinners. The rejected guest was silent, for he could bring forward nothing in excuse. Here, upon earth, careless Christians are always excusing themselves, both to themselves and to others. But before the judgment-seat of the All-knowing and All-holy God they will have to keep silence.

The despisers of the Church and her ministers. Those who persecute and speak evil of the bishops and priests of the Church, are like those rebels who ill-treated the servants of the king, and who thereby drew down on themselves his anger and vengeance. With such as these Almighty God will hold a strict account, for our Lord has said: “He that despiseth you, despiseth Me!”

Holy Communion is a Feast in which the Divine Saviour entertains Himself with the individual soul. The Church, by her ministers, invites us to this Feast, commanding us to receive Holy Communion once a year at Easter, and urging us to more frequent Communion. He who does not partake of this Feast on earth, will find himself shut out from the marriage-feast in heaven. But only he who has on a wedding-garment, only he who is in a state of grace, may receive the Bread of Angels; for he who presumes to receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, will be cast, if he does not repent, into hell, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

APPLICATION. Have you a high idea of sanctifying grace? Do you bear in mind what a beautiful garment of the soul it is, and how our Lord recognises his spouses by it? Take care of it as your greatest treasure, and never lose it by mortal sin. The best way to preserve it is to pray and to practise your religion. Never make vain excuses.








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