instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, August 19, 2004

With friends like this

Today's Gospel reading is the parable of the king who throws a wedding party for his son, and along the way razes a city to the ground. Mel Gibson could have made a great movie out of it.

What strikes me most about the parable is how the king addresses the ill-dressed guest:
My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?
It seems odd for the king to call the man "my friend," both because they don't seem to have ever met (the man was only invited because a servant of the king happened to meet him on the street) and because the very next thing the king says is an order to have his friend bound hand and foot, then tossed into the outer darkness.

Quite a party.

Now, God does not pretend. If He calls someone His friend, He means it. In the parable, He is confirming that the invitation to His Son's wedding feast is an invitation to friendship with Him.

But at this stage it can only be an invitation, because two people are necessary for friendship. A proper response to the invitation is needed for the friendship God offers to come into being.

The parable is filled with examples of improper responses, from ignoring the invitation to violently rejecting it. The man without a wedding garment wants all the benefits of friendship with the king without any of the responsibilities. He wants the king to be, not his friend, but his servant.

The irony is that having God as your friend is far better for you than having Him as your servant. If you accept His invitation to friendship, not only does He serve you at the wedding feast, but He draws you in to share in the Divine beatitude.

Still, if you only want God as your servant, He will oblige, fulfilling the command such a desire contains to bind you hand and foot and throw you into the outer darkness, saying, "Thy will be done."