Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 22:1-14

Mat 22:1  And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying:
Mat 22:2  The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who made a marriage for his son.
Mat 22:3  And he sent his servants to call them that were invited to the marriage: and they would not come.
Mat 22:4  Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come ye to the marriage.

Third parable. In the first parable we saw that the Pharisees and scribes were in a less advantageous condition than the publicans and the harlots; in the second, we saw the kingdom of God taken away from them, and themselves utterly ruined; in the present parable, it is predicted that not only the scribes and Pharisees will be ruined, but the nation also, while not all of the Gentiles who enter the kingdom will be saved. “And Jesus answering” must be taken in the wide meaning which we saw in Mt 11:25 and Mt 12:38; the expression hardly connects with the secret thoughts of the adversaries [cf. Cajetan, Fillion, Meyer, Arnoldi, Bucher], but with the last words of Jesus, so that the emphasis lies on “spoke again in parables” [cf. Schegg, Weiss, Schanz], though in the present case the parable did not serve to conceal the truth [cf. Mt. 13:13 ff.]. “The kingdom of heaven is likened,” i. e. what happens in the kingdom of heaven resembles the following events. The “king” is God the Father; “his son” or the bridegroom is Jesus the Messias [cf. Ps. 45; Jn. 3:29; Mt. 9:15]; for as in the Old Testament the Synagogue was represented as the bride of God [cf. Is. 1:1; 2:2; Ezek 16:8], and idolatry was described as fornication or adultery, so is the Church predicted [cf. Hosea 2:19] and represented as the spouse of Christ [cf. 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25–27]. “Made a marriage” can be said of the father, because the Father prepared the Church for the Son [cf. Jn. 6:44; Jn 17:6, 9, 11, 12, 24]. “To call them that were invited to the marriage” agrees with the alleged double invitation of the ancients [cf. Esth. 5:8 and Esth 6:14; Echa rabbati, iv. 2; Suet. Claud. 39; Wetstein, Wünsche, Rosenmüller, Morgenland, v. p. 192]; without determining here whether this custom really existed, the Jews had been invited to the Messianic kingdom by the call of Abraham, by the covenant near Sinai [cf. Ex. 19:5], by the many prophets that were sent them between the time of Moses and that of Malachias [cf. Is. 2:2 f.; Chrysostom, Euthymius, Hilary, Cajetan, Schanz]. The first “servants” sent to call to the wedding were therefore not either Moses or the prophets [cf. Origen, Theophylact, Jerome, Opus Imperfectum, St Bruno, Paschasius, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius, Faber Stapulensis, Maldonado, Lapide, Calmet, Grimm, Fillion], but they must have been contemporaries of Jesus, such as the Baptist, the twelve, the seventy [Chrysostom, Theodore of Heraclea, Euthymius, Hilary, Cajetan, Salmeron, Jansenius, Lam. Schegg, Schanz, Knabenbauer], since they were sent when the marriage feast was ready. “Again he sent other servants,” showing an astounding patience and forbearance in spite of his royal dignity; but God the Father actually followed this course with the Jewish people, who were even after the death of Christ and the descent of the Holy Ghost again evangelized by the apostles, announcing that the lamb of God had been slain, that the sacraments produced their full effect, “and that all things were ready.”

Mat 22:5  But they neglected and went their ways, one to his farm and another to his merchandise.
Mat 22:6  And the rest laid hands on his servants and, having treated them contumeliously, put them to death.
Mat 22:7  But when the king had heard of it, he was angry: and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers and burnt their city.
Mat 22:8  Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy.
Mat 22:9  Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage.
Mat 22:10  And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests
.

The invited guests are now divided into two classes: first, those indifferent to the marriage, and intent on their own pleasure and profit: “they neglected, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise”; secondly, those apparently irritated and offended by the marriage [cf. Schegg], of whom the evangelist says: “and the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death.” History shows that the body of the Jewish nation was divided into these two classes, and the New Testament abounds in examples especially of the second class: Acts 5:40, 41; Acts 8:1; 9:24, 29; 12:3; 13:50; 14:5, 18; 17:5, 13; 18:6, 12; 21:28; 22:22; 2 Cor. 11:24; 1 Thess. 2:14–16; etc. “His armies” which the king sent in his anger were the Roman troops under Titus [cf. Origen, Chrysostom, Jerome, Opus Imperfectum, St Bruno], just as in the Old Testament the armies executing the divine judgments are called the hosts of God [cf. Is. 13:3; Ezek. 29:18]. “Then he saith to his servants … they that were invited were not worthy,” as has been seen from their behavior towards my servants; the unworthiness of the Jews may be found in their empty pride of being sons of Abraham, as the Baptist had pointed out, and in their expectation of a royal Messias who would come in pomp and glory [cf. Rom. 10:3]. “Go ye therefore into the highways,” or more correctly, “the corners of the streets” where one street intersects another; strangers were wont to congregate in these places. “Both good and bad,” i. e. both those that “do by nature those things that are of the law” [Rom. 2:14], and those that violate the natural law, are “gathered together” by the servants so that the grace of God brings even those to the Church that have led a bad life previously to their call. The plenitude of the marriage feast is therefore not destroyed by the bad will of the invited guests; thus by the sin of the Jews “salvation is come to the Gentiles” [cf. Rom. 11:11, 12].

Mat 22:11  And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment.
Mat 22:12  And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent.
Mat 22:13  Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth
.

“A man who had not on a wedding garment” does not necessarily imply that all the guests were supplied by the king with a garment suitable for the feast [cf. Arnoldi, Reischl, Fillion], just as in Persia those about to appear before the king are supplied with a special garment [Kaftan; cf. Rosenmüller, Morgenland, v. p. 75 ff.]; this circumstance would surely be mentioned in the parable, and the behavior of the guest would be almost incomprehensible [cf. Olshausen, Kistem. Arnoldi, Bucher, Reischl]. The king did not demand a precious garment, but merely a decent dress, such as all the guests could have put on before appearing at the feast [cf. Schanz, Knabenbauer]. In the parable the nuptial garment does not represent faith alone [cf. old Protestant writers; Zahn-Wichelhaus, etc.], but, primarily, sanctifying grace [cf. Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10–12; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 13:1 ff.; Opus Imperfectum, St Bruno, Alb.]; secondarily, all those gifts and characteristics necessarily presupposed by, or connected with sanctifying grace, such as the indwelling of the Holy Ghost [Ir. Hil.], the infused virtues [Origen, Jerome], a knowledge and love of Christ [Augustine, Thomas Aquinas], internal regeneration by the Holy Ghost [Mansel], a truly Christian life of justice and holiness [Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome; cf. Weiss, Maldonado]. “Friend” [cf. Mt 20:13], “how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment,” well knowing that by doing so thou wouldst insult me, my son, and the other guests? If garments had been provided by the king, for all the guests, the servants would probably have been responsible for the decent attire of all present [cf. Arnoldi, Reischl, Fillion]. Cajetan draws attention to the quiet dignity of the king’s words who does not utter a reproach, but merely states the fact. “But he was silent” shows according to Gregory that no excuse will be of any avail in the divine judgment, and according to Chrysostom, that God will not condemn any man who has not previously condemned himself. Here again we see that there shall be bad mixed with the good in the Church till the time of judgment [cf. Mt 13:25, 47]; “weeping and gnashing of teeth” agrees with Mt 8:12 and Mt 13:42; “bind his hands and feet” so that he may not be able to escape from his place of punishment, where all those shall be bound unwillingly who have here willingly borne the bonds of their sinful passions [cf. Gregory hom. xxxviii. 13; Lk. 16:24]; “exterior darkness” alludes to the well-lit dining-room outside of which there was intense darkness; the context shows that the punishment of the guest consisted not merely in being deprived of the feast.

Mat 22:14  For many are called, but few are chosen.

“Many are called, but few are chosen” does not refer to the guests that had actually come to the marriage feast [cf. Augustine, serm. xc., xcv.; Gregory, Rabanus, Alb. Calmet, Arnoldi], since we cannot explain the one guest ejected as denoting the greater part of the guests, without doing violence to the obvious meaning of the text. Nor does it refer to both the guests that had refused to come and those that had come [cf. Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Salmeron tract. 37, Jansenius, Lam. Fillion]; for besides the violence it does to the plain meaning of the text, as already shown, this interpretation gives two different significations to the term “called” at least, if not to both “called” and “chosen.” “Many are called, but few are chosen” refers, therefore, to the whole parable, so that the “called” are those repeatedly invited, and the “few chosen” are the invited guests that actually came [Origen, Theophylact, Knabenbauer etc.]. Since the parable refers to the Jewish nation, it denotes that few of its members will enter the kingdom of the Messiah, a doctrine fully agreeing with the predictions of the prophets [cf. Is. 10:21; Amos 3:12], and with the utterances of St. Paul [Rom. 11:5, 7; 1 Cor. 1:27; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:12; cf. James 2:5; 1 Pet. 1:1; 2:9; 2 Pet. 1:10]. See the footnotes to Romans 11 in the NABRE. The complete doctrine of the parable encourages, therefore, the hearers of Jesus, since it shows that some of them will be saved [cf. Maldonado, Lapide, Sylveira, Schegg]; at the same time it warns those entering the kingdom of the Messias not to presume, since some of them will be lost; whether the number of the lost in the kingdom is greater than, or equal to, or less than, the number of the saved is not determined by the parable.

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One Response to Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 22:1-14

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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