I think we can get into dangerous waters very quickly when we try to interpret things on our own. It’s like misunderstanding song lyrics. We sing what we think we hear, so it makes sense in our mind. Misunderstanding words changes the entire meaning. What if the words to “Bad Moon Rising” were actually “there’s a bathroom on the right”?
I’ve found this to be the case with scripture sometimes and for the most part I have misunderstood in a way that left me feeling a degree of despair.
A recent gospel reading is a good example of that. Matthew 22:1-14, starts with Jesus speaking in parables. The story is of a king that prepares a wedding feast. It starts out a lovely invitation to the wedding feast. Invitations are sent via the servants, but many people are not interested in going. Then the king extends another invitation to many more people. These people are much too busy and some are hurting the king’s servants. The king is so angry and destroys some of these people. Finally the king sent out for everyone to be invited. Good and bad, whoever will come to fill the room. I always like this part of the story. Everyone is welcome no matter what. Finally the king arrives to find a man without a wedding garment. The king throws this person out, and more than that he is “cast … out into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
I’ve always felt so bad for that man without a garment. What if he couldn’t afford one? What if he let someone borrow his? What if it was stolen? I’ve always questioned how the king could be so angry.
But during his homily, my priest, cleared this mystery up for me. The wedding garment had been provided! The wedding garment was free of charge. The wedding garment was paid for by the blood of Jesus. We only need to have a repentant heart. We only need to let the grace of Jesus shine on us. We only need to allow this grace to flow from us.
The first invited people were not at all interested, the next set of invitations went to those who were too busy or sometimes actively working against the king. It is a strong reminder to acknowledge our own invitation and make sure we are responding. Along with making sure we aren’t working against our Lord.
Grace isn’t taken away because we lack fancy clothes. How beautiful to see we are all called to the feast (the mass, Heaven). We need only accept what has been provided. We need only put on the wedding garment. The wedding garment wasn’t without cost, but the price was paid by our loving Jesus. We can’t earn it, we can only accept it.
I think it’s important to not always trust our own judgment on understanding scripture. It is important to read scripture in its entirety. It’s one of the reasons I love being Catholic. With technology we can easily find what the church teaches, it’s loaded with information helping us to understand. The design of the church with our leaders and Magisterium helps us all learn and understand. We are so blessed!