I’m not married, but I have been to a few weddings in my day. The experience of the wedding varies based on how well you know the couple of course. There have been some weddings that I have been surprised and honoured be invited to attend; then there have been some that I would have of course been sad had I not been invited to attend; and there have been some that I have been in the wedding party, the most recent being my sister’s wedding. I have also officiated a wedding, so though I have not had my own I’ve learned a thing or two about weddings.
I’ve learned that it is incredibly bad form to respond to a wedding invitation and without good reason not show up. Sometimes things happen of course; people die, work calls and you have to go in, houses flood, accidents happen. One year my family did not make it to a wedding reception because the streets were blocked and we did not know an alternate route, we tried for a long time driving around, we did not intend to miss the party. There are people out there however, who having said they will attend, just “don’t feel like it” when the day comes for the wedding. It’s bad form not only because it is rude, but let’s also consider that the couple has paid for your meal at their wedding feast. They’ve slaughtered the fattened calf so to speak. The least a person can do is to inform the wedding party that they will not be intending so that an invitation could be extended to someone else, perhaps that person you didn’t know all that well when you were planning the wedding but wish you had invited anyway.
I’ve also learned that no matter what you do or how you plan your day someone is going to be offended. People will be offended that they were not invited despite the fact that they play no real part in the story of the life of the couple. People will be offended at the table assignments. People will be offended that a bigger deal wasn’t made of them and their attendance at the wedding. I think this is because for some reason, people assume the wedding is actually about them and not about the happy couple at all.
It seems strange to me, but these are some of the dynamics that are at play when someone decides to get married.
It’s up to the couple to not let these things affect their day and to celebrate with the friends and family who have come for them, to celebrate their day. After all, we’d all do better to remember the day is about the couple.
So what does this have to do with the gospel lesson assigned for this week (Matthew 22:1-14)? Right now I can’t say for sure. The text is difficult and it’s not all that pleasant. There are those who offend by their lack of attendance, so the king packs the house with those who will. Then there is the strange parable within the parable where someone who has come in, and is not wearing the proper wedding attire and therefore is thrown out. Maybe this guest has lost sight of what the celebration is all about. Maybe this guest has lost sight of the reason for the celebration and is being arrogant, making it all about me, who knows. What I do understand, is that in this case there seems to be a proper response to the invitation, and not many seem to be getting it right.