The Parable of the Wedding Banquet – Matthew 22:1-14 – Meaning and Commentary

1. Introductory prayer for The Parable of the Wedding Banquet – Matthew 22:1-14

I pause and slowly calm myself. I make the sign of the cross, becoming more deeply aware of God’s presence within me and in everything that surrounds me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the gift of being moved by God’s word, which I am now allowed to read, listen to, ponder, and allow it to shape Christ within me (Gal 4:19), that I may become merciful, just as the heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36). I ask for this in my own words or by using the following:

“Please grant me the grace to be able and know how to listen from the outside and from the inside. From the outside, the words I read; from the inside, the feelings and impulses that arise. Slowly, I begin to read the passage from the Gospel. Word by word. Line by line. I gaze at the one who is speaking to me.”

2. Reading – Listening: The Parable of the Wedding Banquet – Matthew 22:1-14

22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

3. Thoughts on the Gospel: The Parable of the Wedding Banquet – Matthew 22:1-14 – Meaning and Commentary

The meaning of the parable of the wedding feast is entirely clear when read in its context. In the preceding parable of the vineyard, Jesus summarizes the history of salvation (Mt 21:33-45). God had surrounded Israel with special care, hoping for it to bear fruits in faithfulness and justice. From time to time, He sent prophets to remind the people of the fruits He expected, but their mission always met with Israel’s rejection. Finally, He sent His Son, but they killed Him. At this point, Jesus states that because Israel continued to reject the Heavenly Kingdom, it would be passed on to another people, the Gentiles (Mt 21:43). This statement gives us the key to interpreting the parable of the wedding feast, which essentially repeats the message of the previous parable with a different image and nuances.

The parables by no means justify the notion that God rejected Israel in favor of the Church. Reading Romans 9-11 is enough to confirm the opposite. Jesus warned His people with the intention of drawing them to conversion and accepting Him. Additionally, even the Gentiles who were newly invited risked being cast out if they did not wear the ‘wedding garment.’

Similar to Jesus, Isaiah (25:6-10a) also spoke of the wedding feast that God prepared for all peoples. The Israelite people, and especially the city of Jerusalem, remained at the center of God’s plan as mediators of salvation. In the New Testament, despite the acknowledgment that ‘salvation is from the Jews’ (Jn 4:22), the only mediator of salvation was Jesus, who continued His mediation through the community of His disciples, the Church.

For the one invited to the wedding, it is offensive if someone comes in ordinary work attire. It signifies that they do not take the opportunity given to them seriously. The image of the wedding garment emphasizes that one cannot enter the kingdom without the preparation that is conversion. Changing clothes, in a biblical sense, means changing one’s way of life (see Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27; Eph 4:20-24). The wedding garment means accepting faith in Jesus Christ, that is, to clothe oneself in Him and be ready to learn, see, hear, and perceive everything in His way, as we see in the Gospels. It means living Christ, living and acting in His Spirit.

The expression ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’ is a Semitism. Biblical Hebrew, lacking comparisons, uses expressions based on drastic contrasts. Thus, this expression tells us nothing about the numerical relationship between those called into the Church and those chosen for eternal life. However, it is also true that the parable distinguishes between the call to salvation, election, and final perseverance.

The generosity of the ruler of the Heavenly Kingdom is great, but we must take His demands seriously. Salvation should not be taken for granted. It is a free gift from God. However, just as the prophets warned (Jer 7:1-15; Hos 6:1-6), so does Jesus. If we are not willing to cooperate with God’s gift, it cannot help us, and consequently, we have no entry to the eternal feast.

4. Meditation – Thinking

I am now reflecting on the heard Word of God. I am looking at Jesus and other individuals in the passage. I am observing how the Word of God touches my thoughts and feelings, how it reveals God to me and me to myself and others in Him. The following thoughts or questions can also be helpful:

  • Are there ‘urgent matters’ in my life that prevent me from accepting God’s invitation?
  • What is the wedding garment that God wants on me so that I can participate in the wedding feast of the Heavenly Kingdom?”

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

I allow everything within me to fall silent. I am simply present in God, just as He is present in me. Perhaps from this silence and stillness, I will sense even more of God’s address and His desire for me to be always with Him and to do everything with Him and in Him…

7. Action

When I enter into a personal relationship with God, He transforms me, makes me more loving, and inspires me to take concrete action…

8. Prayer at the end

“Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who is my wedding garment. I ask you to help me with the grace of the Holy Spirit so that I may be able to clothe myself in Christ and live Him always and everywhere.”

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is the time when I became aware of and articulate what was happening within me during prayer. The following questions can assist me in reflection:

  • What was happening during prayer? What feelings and thoughts could I discern within myself?
  • What did I learn about God, His relationship with me and others, and my own relationship with Him and others?
  • How did I conclude my prayer? What did I receive in it for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can jot down my insights, discoveries, and realizations. I also note where I encountered difficulties, as these can be valuable in understanding God’s relationship with me and my relationship with Him. They can also help me find a more suitable way of praying. Then, I express gratitude to the triune God for everything.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home –

Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)

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Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!