Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14 or 22:1-10
In the parable of the Wedding Feast Matthew again addresses the chief priests and elders of the people. It appears as an allegory that would be clear to his community: the King’s invitation is rejected, messengers are treated violently, their cities destroyed, and there is a new invitation that includes everyone, especially the poor.
Why would a guest be thrown out without a wedding garment? Barbara Reid, O.P. in her column on the Word [America Magazine, Oct. 3, 2011] sees Matthew’s use of the wedding garment as similar to Paul’s metaphor of putting on clothing to describe our embracing the values of Our Lord. "All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with him [Gal.3:27, and Col.3:13, Rom.13:14]. Those invited who do not put on Christ are put out into what seems to be a dogfight, where there is wailing and the grinding of teeth.
Paragraph 11 in Pope Benedict’s encyclical, "Love in Truth", gives a description of putting on Christ: Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space…humanity loses the courage to be at the service of higher goods and the disinterested initiatives called forth by universal charity. Human development is primarily a vocation requiring a transcendent vision of the person; it needs God.
We celebrate in the Passionist family the feast of Innocencio Aruna, C.P., martyr. He was killed along with five De la Salle Brothers 1934 in Turon, Spain, in the Northeastern province of Asturias. The political situation was raw following the change of government in 1933. Changes made by the previous, more leftist government were threatened. Labor unions feared for worker’s rights and there was talk of a revolution imitating that of Russia. A general strike was declared but did not succeed. However, in the coal mine region of Asturias, the strike turned into violence. In the fighting that followed mercenary troops were called in, 3,000 miners were killed and 35,000 people were taken prisoner.
On the evening of October 5, Fr. Innocencio was celebrating Mass with the community of brothers who conducted a school in Turon. Strikers invaded the residence, seized Innocencio and the brothers whom they held without trial, then, on October 9, summarily shot them in a cemetery in middle of the night. The violence directed against them was strongly anticlerical and targeted priests and religious. Attacked because they supposedly hid weapons, it was the exercise of religion and their teaching it which led to their deaths.
Matthew’s parable becomes for Innocencio the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. He is a man who is not put out for lack of a garment. He was clothed in the habit of his religious order, and clothed in the works of Christ as a Passionist religious; he vowed to preach Christ Crucified. We see in the violence of the ‘Revolution of Asturas’ what Pope Benedict’s encyclical says, the human works of social reform and worker justice, all of our aspirations to make a better world, without charity lose vision and the courage needed to reach such high goals. Indeed for those not clothed in Christ it can become a dogfight. And that so aptly describes the attack upon Innocencio and the Brothers. The blood of the martyrs gives nourishment to the earth upon which it falls. May their example lead us to put on Christ, to love, and to bring our human family to the Banquet that God sets for us.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is pastor of St. Joseph’s Monastery parish in Baltimore, Maryland.