Choosing the real good over the apparent good.
The guests invited to the Royal wedding chose what was convenient, even apparently good in their estimation, over the much better and real good of attending the wedding feast.
Why? Was it out of laziness? Because of self interest? They didn’t like the host?
Also the man without the wedding garment did much the same.
In ancient Palestine, one of the social customs at wedding banquets was for the host to provide a festive garment for all the guests. It was almost like what a welcome gift is for modern wedding receptions.
It could be something as simple as a coloured scarf or shawl. With all the guests wearing this garment, an atmosphere of unity and joy was created, and the special honour of the bride and bridegroom (who were wearing different garments), was emphasised.
In the parable, after the banquet has begun, the king comes in and finds a guest without a wedding garment.
There are only two possible reasons why a guest wouldn’t have a wedding garment. Either he sneaked in without being invited,
or he didn’t care about celebrating the wedding and just wanted enjoy the food and drink while doing his own thing.
In either case, such a guest is not a guest at all because he has no relationship to the bride and bridegroom, and so he has no reason to be there. And so the king threw him out.
Again, this guest was also operating out of self interest. He wasn’t interested is celebrating the Prince’s wedding.
We probably think we wouldn’t do such things. But we do. Whenever we rail against or push against things which aren’t as we like them to be, we can be said to be choosing what is apparently good to us but may be not the good that others have for us or that which God is producing in our lives. Our vision and understanding are limited.
The reality of our Christian existence, demands constant conversion. This is a continuous surrender to God and God’s ways. This is so hard because it means going against our first inclinations and, at times, our self-interest.
As I watch my parents grow older I am beginning to understand this surrender to God is not just spiritual but also bodily. One cannot grow old with faith, and not bit by bit let one’s life surrender into God’s hands, often through greater dependence on other people.
The English artist, William Hunt, captured this conversion and surrender in an interesting way in his famous painting called “The Light of the World”. Some of you have probably seen this impressive painting.
Hunt painted it in 1852, as an expression of his personal conversion to Christ.
It shows the large wooden door of a country cottage, which is located on the edge of a forest, far away from other houses or towns.
Around the door weeds have grown up, and the landscape looks abandoned, uncultivated, and hostile.
It is nighttime.In the darkness, the full moon forms a halo around the head of Christ, who is standing in front of the door.
He holds a lantern in his left hand, and with his right hand he is knocking on the door.
Hunt was part of the “pre-Raphaelite” school of painters, who were interested in complex symbolism.
In this painting, the cottage symbolises the soul, the door is human freedom, and Christ is the light that brings hope and meaning to the darkness within.
It’s a haunting painting in many of its details.
First of all, it’s counterintuitive to have a stranger wandering the woods at night carrying a light. Usually, the light would come from inside the place of residence, and the strange wanderer would be seeking relief from the darkness outside.
But another detail is even more eloquent: no doorknob or handle can be seen on the outside of the door. This implies that the door can only be opened from within.
Christ is knocking on the outside, patiently waiting to bring his light into the house, but only those on the inside can let him in.
Our lives must be opened to Christ, day by day, situation by situation. We must allow Christ in. There must be no doors within our inner self or in our exterior life that are closed to Christ.
When all doors are opened and we welcome Christ is then we can say with St Patrick said “Christ abide and ne’er depart.”
May Christ assist us with his grace to always choose the real good, which is Him, over what might be apparently good for
a passing moment.