Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
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16 But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many;
17 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for all is now ready.'
18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.'
19 And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.'
20 And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'
21 So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.'
22 And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.'
23 And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"
Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
16 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἄνθρωπός τις ἐποίησε δεῖπνον μέγα καὶ ἐκάλεσε πολλούς· 17 καὶ ἀπέστειλε τὸν δοῦλον αὐτοῦ τῇ ὥρᾳ τοῦ δείπνου εἰπεῖν τοῖς κεκλημένοις· ἔρχεσθε, ὅτι ἤδη ἕτοιμά ἐστι πάντα. 18 καὶ ἤρξαντο ἀπὸ μιᾶς παραιτεῖσθαι πάντες. ὁ πρῶτος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀγρὸν ἠγόρασα, καὶ ἔχω ἀνάγκην ἐξελθεῖν καὶ ἰδεῖν αὐτόν· ἐρωτῶ σε, ἔχε με παρῃτημένον. 19 καὶ ἕτερος εἶπε· ζεύγη βοῶν ἠγόρασα πέντε, καὶ πορεύομαι δοκιμάσαι αὐτά· ἐρωτῶ σε, ἔχε με παρῃτημένον. 20 καὶ ἕτερος εἶπε· γυναῖκα ἔγημα, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο οὐ δύναμαι ἐλθεῖν. 21 καὶ παραγενόμενος ὁ δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος ἀπήγγειλε τῷ κυρίῳ αὐτοῦ ταῦτα. τότε ὀργισθεὶς ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης εἶπε τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ· ἔξελθε ταχέως εἰς τὰς πλατείας καὶ ρύμας τῆς πόλεως, καὶ τοὺς πτωχοὺς καὶ ἀναπήρους καὶ χωλοὺς καὶ τυφλοὺς εἰσάγαγε ὧδε. 22 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ δοῦλος· κύριε, γέγονεν ὡς ἐπέταξας, καὶ ἔτι τόπος ἐστί. 23 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ κύριος πρὸς τὸν δοῦλον· ἔξελθε εἰς τὰς ὁδοὺς καὶ φραγμοὺς καὶ ἀνάγκασον εἰσελθεῖν, ἵνα γεμισθῇ ὁ οἶκος μου. 24 λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδεὶς τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἐκείνων τῶν κεκλημένων γεύσεταί μου τοῦ δείπνου.
Matthew 22:14 πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσι κλητοί, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί.
Larger Thought Unit
Chapter 14 is one single unit and it is noticeable that the context of each of the first four units is a meal. The fifth and final unit takes place after a meal. Note that each meal scene in the gospel of Luke is an occasion for Jesus to teach (Lk 5:27-39; 7:36-50; 11:37-54; 19:1-10). The first four units are chiastic (cf. Talbert): A-religious hypocrisy while disregarding others; B-self-seeking as a guest; B’-self-seeking as a host; A’-hypocrisy while disregarding God. The chapter ends with a Christ teaching about the cost of discipleship. Regarding today’s pericope, note that the introductory verse is not read: “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,” which sets the tone for this biting parable that condemns ‘religious’ Israel and moves the emphasis of the gospel to the Gentile as well as the outcasts among the Jews
This parable underlines Paul’s teaching that what is essential is the one who calls (RSV has “invited” for the Greek ἐκάλεσε [called] in v.16), not those who are called (see Rom 4:17; 9:12; Gal 1:6, 15; 5:8; 1 Thess 2:12; 5:24). God’s calling is so determinant to the extent that one is to remain as one was found when called (1 Cor 7:17-24). Actually Gods’ assembly/congregation (ἐκκλησία) is the outcome of his calling, and not a preexistent entity to which God addresses himself. In other words, the church (ἐκκλησία) is never a subject (matter) but a result of God’s mercy and always remains so.
The called/invited in this parable seem to have forgotten this reality and assume that the (success of the) festivity depends on their reply and presence. It is a wake up call to all church members that their reality is linked to the coming festivity of the kingdom, and only there will they become God’s assembly/congregation/ἐκκλησία. They are to realize—and it better be sooner than later—that their invitation is by God’s free choice and his choice will be revealed at the end when the saved are the “chosen” (ἐκλεκτοί). God’s congregation is ultimately an ἐκλογὴ, the assembly of the elect. (Rom 11:7; see also Rom 8:33; 9:11; 11:5, 28; 1 Thess 1:4).
Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke, Smith & Helwys Publishing, Macon, GA, 2002; pp 169-176.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.2: Luke and Acts, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001; pp.121-22.