Sunday, October 12, 2008

A story about grace

The Wedding Banquet

Well, if you were in church this morning, you heard the parable of the wedding banquet according to Matthew. It ends, of course, with that very troubling saying, "Many are called but few are chosen." Here's something I just found out about the parable as a whole:
This parable is a huge joke, which does not translate well in a 21st Century world where the Roman patronage system no longer is in force. According to John Dominic Crossan, in First Century Rome, everyone participated in the patronage system, from God to the Emperor, to the noble classes, to the merchants, the traders, the military, servants, slaves, and the totally disenfranchised. Everyone was either a patron or a client, and everyone had both patrons and clients, people to whom and from whom favors or commercial debt was owed. The way to repay the debt among the upper classes was to hold a banquet, usually a sacrificial banquet, in which an animal (or several) were slaughtered in the temple, the blood poured out for the gods, and the meat shared among the guests – all of whom were clients of the one giving the feast. For a guest to refuse to attend would be social, political, and commercial suicide, regardless of where one was in the social strata. For a host to then fill the banquet hall with people with whom one did not and would never do business would be ludicrous. There would be no possibility of ever receiving an invitation or favor in return.But of such is the Kingdom of God.

This story is about grace, not apocalyptic judgment.
Now regarding the "many are called..." saying:

Our priest this morning said that implied in the Aramaic way of saying this is that the mighty are called and the weak are chosen. I'd never heard an interpretation like that before. It makes sense, though.


  1. That is a very powerful look at that saying. Fr. Rick is so insightful.


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