Stitching garments of truth
Once the folks from the street come rushing in, the King corners a guest not properly attired and throws him out. Such a shock after the open invitation to then criticize someone who found themselves unexpectedly a guest of the king. It's another one of Jesus parables that sticks in your craw.
Mr. Craig Canfield, a teacher, poet, and Episcopal layperson active in his parish, St. James, in Eatontown, New Jersey has written
One of the things that bars us from entrance through the door of meaning is our attempt to interpret the meaning of the parables as though the stories are meant to be understood literally. As with our initial scene, such a response flattens out the meaning, makes it comic or banal. Simply put, then, the meaning of today's Gospel story of the marriage feast might be: "You had better get your costume ready if you want to go to the wedding feast or you will be booted out; or, worse, you might be thrown to the dogs!" We leave deeper meaning behind and take off for the mall. The better we look when we go into church for the wedding, the more likely we are of being able to pass into heaven. But for those people with a bit of training in interpreting metaphor (and few could be dull enough to take this parable literally) there would be fewer trips to the mall. There is no section at the mall for symbolic wedding garb, or for symbolic brides. Let's leave the literal and try doing the work of seeing through different lenses, in a way that will
give us a new heart.
If literal interpretations of the parables bring us to a dead end, what will symbolic interpretation open for us. In today's Gospel, Jesus is using the image of a wedding feast, a favorite of his, to speak of his Kingdom of God. There is little mention of the bride in the story. It is not because she is not there. Rather, it is because she is everywhere, for she can be compared to the entire body of Christ's people. Jesus was really talking about a sacred marriage between God and man; between the bridegroom who is the Word and human nature. Jesus himself is the bridegroom and the bride is every one of us. We are being given a picture, Jesus' vision, of the "married land." As in Revelations, the Bridegroom has come. It is heaven where, as we know, there is no marriage in the earthly sense; no human beings split into halves that have to get together. For in heaven all are married. The divine and human in heaven have been united in our minds.
And when he comes, will we be ready? Will we be foolish enough to say that as there is a sale this week we will certainly be able to look our best for the wedding in church? No, the costume in the story is to be understood metaphorically. It is our lives we must change, the contents of our consciousness, our hearts, our vision—not our clothes! These are the intangible garments that concern Jesus...The purpose of a parable is to make one point and the point here is to get ready, to stitch together for ourselves the garments of truth, of the Way, so we will be open to God.