1. And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables,
2. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made
a marriage for his son,
3. And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to
the wedding: and they would not come.
4. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which
are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings
are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage."
5. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm,
another to his merchandise:
6. And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully,
and slew them.
7. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth
his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8. Then saith he to his servants, "The wedding is ready, but they
which were bidden were not worthy.
9. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find,
bid to the marriage."
10. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together
all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished
with guests. [p. 739]
11. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a
man which had not on a wedding garment:
12. And he saith unto him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither not
having a wedding garment?" And he was speechless.
13. Then said the king to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot,
and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth.
14. For many are called, but few are chosen."
Chrys., Hom. lxix: Forasmuch as He had said, And it shall be given to
a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof," He now proceeds to shew what
nation that is.
Gloss., interlin.: "Answered," that is, meeting their evil thoughts
of putting Him to death.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 71: This parable is related only by Matthew.
Luke gives one like it, but it is not the same, as the order shews.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxviii, 2: Here, by the wedding-feast is denoted
the present Church; there, by the supper, the last and eternal feast. For
into this enter some who shall perish; into that whosoever has once entered
in shall never be put forth. But if any should maintain that these are
the same lessons, we may perhaps explain that that part concerning the
guest who had come in without a wedding garment, which Luke has not mentioned,
Matthew has related. That the one calls it supper, the other dinner, makes
no difference; for with the ancients the dinner was at the ninth hour,
and was therefore often called supper.
Origen: The kingdom of heaven, in respect of Him who reigns there, is
like a king; in respect of Him who shares the kingdom, it is like a king's
son; in respect of those things which are in the kingdom, it is like servants
and guests, and among them the king's armies. It is specified, "A man that
is a king," that what is spoken may be as by a man to men, and that a man
may regulate men unwilling to be regulated by God. But the kingdom of heaven
will then cease to be like a man, when zeal and contention and all other
passions and sins having ceased, we [p. 740] shall cease to walk after
men, and shall see Him as He is. For now we see Him not as He is, but as
He has been made for us in our dispensation.
Greg: God the Father made a marriage feast for God the Son, when He
joined Him to human nature in the womb of the Virgin. But far be it from
us to conclude, that because marriage takes place between two separate
persons, that therefore the person of our Redeemer was made up of two separate
persons. We say indeed that He exists of two natures, and in two natures,
but we hold it unlawful to believe that He was compounded of two persons.
It is safer therefore to say, that the marriage feast was made by the King
the Father for the King the Son when He joined to Him the Holy Church in
the mystery of His incarnation. The womb of the Virgin Mother was the bridechamber
of this Bridegroom.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; When the resurrection of the saints shall
be, then the life, which is Christ, shall revive man, swallowing up his
mortality in its own immortality. For now we receive the Holy Spirit as
a pledge of the future union, but then we shall have Christ Himself more
fully in us.
Origen: Or, by the marriage of Bridegroom with Bride, that is, of Christ
with the soul, understand the Assumption of the Word, the produce whereof
is good works.
Hilary: Rightly has the Father already made this wedding, because this
eternal union and espousal of the new body is already perfect in Christ.
Pseudo-Chrys.: When the servants were sent to call them, they must have
been invited before. Men have been invited from the time of Abraham, to
whom was promised Christ's incarnation.
Jerome: "He sent his servant," without doubt Moses, by whom He gave
the Law, to those who had been invited. But if you read "servants" as most
copies have, it must be referred to the Prophets, by whom they were invited,
but neglected to come. By the servants who were sent the second time, we
may better understand the Prophets than the Apostles; that is to say, if
servant is read in the first place; but if 'servants,' then by the second
servants are to be understood the Apostles;
Pseudo-Chrys.: whom He sent when He said unto them, "Go not into the
way of the Gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Origen: The servants who were first sent to [p. 741] call them that
were bidden to the wedding, are to be taken as the Prophets converting
the people by their prophecy to the festival of the restoration of the
Church to Christ. They who would not come at the first message are they
who refused to hear the words of the Prophets. The others who were sent
a second time were another assembly of Prophets.
Hilary: Or; The servants who were first sent to call them that were
bidden, are the Apostles; they who, being before bidden, are now invited
to come in, are the people of Israel, who had before been bidden through
the Law to the glories of eternity. To the Apostles therefore it belonged
to remind those whom the Prophets had invited. Those sent with the second
injunction are the Apostolic men their successors.
Greg: But because these who were first invited would not come to the
feast, the second summons says, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner."
Jerome: The dinner that is prepared, the oxen and the fatlings that
are killed, is either a description of regal magnificence by the way of
metaphor, that by carnal things spiritual may be understood; or the greatness
of the doctrines, and the manifold teaching of God in His law, may be understood.
Pseudo-Chrys.: When therefore the Lord bade the Apostles, "Go ye and
preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand," it was the same message
as is here given, "I have prepared my dinner;" i. e. I have set out the
table of Scripture out of the Law and the Prophets.
Greg.: By the oxen are signified the Fathers of the Old Testament; who
by sufferance of the Law gored their enemies with the horn of bodily strength.
By fatlings are meant fatted animals, for from 'alere', comes 'altilia,'
as it were 'alitilia' or 'alita.' By the "fatlings" are intended the Fathers
of the New Testament; who while they receive sweet grace of inward fattening,
are raised by the wing of contemplation from earthly desires to things
He says therefore, "My oxen and my fatlings are killed;" as much as
to say, Look to the deaths of the Fathers who have been before you, and
desire some amendment of your lives.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; He says "oxen and fatlings," not as though
the oxen were not fatted, but because all the oxen were not fat. Therefore
the fatlings denote the Prophets who were filled with the Holy Spirit;
the oxen [p. 742] those who were both Priests and Prophets, as Jeremiah
and Ezekiel; for as the oxen are the leaders of the herd, so also the Priests
are leaders of the people.
Hilary: Or otherwise; The oxen are the glorious army of Martyrs, offered,
like choice victims, for the confession of God; the fatlings are spiritual
men, as birds fed for flight upon heavenly food, that they may fill others
with the abundance of the food they have eaten.
Greg.: It is to be observed, that in the first invitation nothing was
said of the oxen or fatlings, but in the second it is announced that they
are already killed, because Almighty God when we will not hear His words
gives examples, that what we suppose impossible may become easy to us to
surmount, when we hear that others have passed through it before us.
Origen: Or; The dinner which is prepared is the oracle of God; and so
the more mighty of the oracles of God are the oxen; the sweet and pleasant
are the fatlings. For if any one bring forward feeble words, without power,
and not having strong force of reason, these are the lean things; the fatlings
are when to the establishment of each proposition many examples are brought
forward backed by reasonable proofs.
For example, supposing one holding discourse of chastity, it might well
be represented by the turtle-dove; but should he bring forward the same
holy discourse full of reasonable proof out of Scripture, so as to delight
and strengthen the mind of his hearer, then he brings the dove fatted.
Pseudo-Chrys.: That He says, "And all things are now ready," means,
that all that is required to salvation is already filled up in the Scriptures;
there the ignorant may find instruction; the self-willed may read of terrors;
he who is in difficulty may there find promises to rouse him to activity.
Gloss., interlin.: Or, "All things are now ready," i.e. The entrance
into the kingdom, which had been hitherto closed, is now ready through
faith in My incarnation.
Pseudo-Chrys., non occ. sed vid. Gloss. ord.: Or He says, "All things
are now ready" which belong to the mystery of the Lord's Passion, and our
redemption. He says, "Come to the marriage," not with your feet, but with
faith, and good conduct. "But they made light of it;" why they did so He
shews when He adds, "And they went their way, one to his farm, another
to his merchandize."
Chrys.: These occupations seem to be [p. 743] entirely reasonable; but
we learn hence, that however necessary the things that take up our time,
we ought to prefer spiritual things to every thing beside. But it seems
to me that they only pretended these engagements as a cloak for their disregard
of the invitation.
Hilary: For men are taken up with worldly ambition as with a farm; and
many through covetousness are engrossed with trafficking.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or otherwise; When we work with the labour of our hands,
for example, cultivating our field or our vineyard, or any manufacture
of wood or iron, we seem to be occupied with our "farm;" any other mode
of getting money unattended with manual labour is here called "merchandize."
O most miserable world! and miserable ye that follow it! The pursuits of
this world have ever shut men out of life.
Greg.: Whosoever then intent upon earthly business, or devoted to the
actions of this world, feigns to be meditating upon the mystery of the
Lord's Passion, and to be living accordingly, is he that refuses to come
to the King's wedding on pretext of going to his farm or his merchandize.
Nay often, which is worse, some who are called not only reject the grace,
but become persecutors, "And the remnant took his servants, and entreated
them despitefully and slew them."
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, by the business of a farm, He denotes the Jewish
populace, whom the delights of this world separated from Christ; by the
excuse of merchandize, the Priests and other ministers of the Temple, who,
coming to the service of the Law and the Temple through greediness of gain,
have been shut out of the faith by covetousness. Of these He said not 'They
were filled with envy,' but "They made light of it." For they who through
hate and spite crucified Christ, are they who were filled with envy; but
they who being entangled in business did not believe on Him, are not said
to have been filled with envy, but to have made light of it.
The Lord is silent respecting His own death, because He had spoken of
it in the foregoing parable, but He shews forth the death of His disciples,
whom after His ascension the Jews put to death, stoning Stephen and executing
James the son of Alphaeus, for which things Jerusalem was destroyed by
the Romans. And it is to be observed, that anger is attributed to God figuratively
and not properly; He is then said to be angry when [p. 744] He punishes.
Jerome: When He was doing works of mercy, and bidding to His marriage-feast,
He was called a man; now when He comes to vengeance, the man is dropped,
and He is called only a King. [margin note: homin regi]
Origen: Let those who sin against the God of the Law, and the Prophets,
and the whole creation, declare whether He who is here called man, and
is said to be angry, is indeed the Father Himself. If they allow this,
they will be forced to own that many things are said of Him applicable
to the passible nature of man; not for that He has passions, but because
He is represented to us after the manner of passible human nature. In this
way we take God's anger, repentance, and the other things of the like sort
in the Prophets.
Jerome: By "His armies" we understand that Romans under Vespasian and
Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judaea, laid in ashes
the faithless city.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Roman army is called God's army; because "The earth
is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof;" [Ps 24:1] nor would the Romans
have come to Jerusalem, had not the Lord stirred them thither.
Greg.: Or, The armies of our King are the legions of His Angels. He
is said therefore to have sent His armies, and to have destroyed those
murderers, because all judgment is executed upon men by the Angels. He
destroys those murderers, when He cuts off persecutors; and burns up their
city, because not only their souls, but the body of flesh they had tenanted,
is tormented in the everlasting fire of hell.
Origen: Or, the city of those wicked men is in each doctrine the assembly
of those who meet in the wisdom of the rulers of this world; which the
King sets fire to and destroys, as consisting of evil buildings.
Greg.: But when He sees that His invitation is spurned at, He will not
have His Son's marriage-feast empty; the word of God will find where it
may stay itself.
Origen: "He saith to His servants," that is, to the Apostles; or to
the Angels, who were set over the calling of the Gentiles, "The wedding
Remig.: That is, the whole sacrament of the human dispensation is completed
and closed. "But they which were bidden," that is the Jews, "were not worthy,"
because, "ignorant of the righteousness God, and going about to establish
their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the [p.
745] righteousness of God. [Rom 10:3]
The Jewish nation then being rejected, the Gentile people were taken
in to the marriage-feast; whence it follows, "Go ye out into the crossings
of the streets, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the wedding."
Jerome: For the Gentile nation was not in the streets, but in the crossings
of the streets.
Remig.: These are the errors of the gentiles.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or; The streets are all the professions of this world,
as philosophy, soldiery, and the like. And therefore He says, "Go out into
the crossings of the streets," that they may call to the faith men of every
condition. Moreover, as chastity is the way that leads to God, so fornication
is the way that leads to the Devil; and so it is in the other virtues and
vices. Thus He bids them invite to the faith men of every profession or
Hilary: By the street also is to be understood the time of this world,
and they are therefore bid to go to the crossings of the streets, because
the past is remitted to all.
Greg.: Or otherwise; In holy Scripture, way is taken to mean actions;
so that the crossings of the ways we understand as failure in action, for
they usually come to God readily, who have had little prosperity in worldly
Origen: Or otherwise; I suppose this first bidding to the wedding to
have been a bidding of some of the more noble minds. For God would have
those before all come to the feast of the divine oracles who are of the
more ready wit to understand them; and forasmuch as they who are such are
loth to come to that kind of summons, other servants are sent to move them
to come, and to promise that they shall find the dinner prepared. For as
in the things of the body, one is the bride, others the inviters to the
feast, and they that are bidden are others again; so God knows the various
ranks of souls, and their powers, and the reasons why these are taken into
the condition of the Bride, others in the rank of the servants that call,
and others among the number of those that are bidden as guests. But they
who had been thus especially invited contemned the first inviters as poor
in understanding, and went their way, following their own devices, as more
delighting in them than in those things which the King by his servants
promised. Yet are these more venial than they who ill-treat and put to
death the servants sent unto them; [p. 746] those, that is, who daringly
assail with weapons of contentious words the servants sent, who are unequal
to solve their subtle difficulties, and those are illtreated or put to
death by them.
The servants going forth are either Christ's Apostles going from Judaea
and Jerusalem, or the Holy Angels from the inner worlds, and going to the
various ways of various manners, gathered together whomsoever they found,
not caring whether before their calling they had been good or bad.
By the good here we may understand simply the more humble and upright
of those who come to the worship of God, to whom agreed what the Apostle
says, "When the Gentile which have not the Law do by nature the things
contained in the Law, they are a law unto themselves." [Rom 2:14]
Jerome: For there is an infinite difference among the Gentiles themselves;
some are more prone to vice, others are endowed with more incorrupt and
Greg.: Or; He means that in this present Church there cannot be bad
without good, nor good without bad. He is not good who refuses to endure
Origen: The marriage-feast of Christ and the Church is filled, when
they who were found by the Apostles, being restored to God, sat down to
the feast. But since it behoved that both bad and good should be called,
not that the bad should continue bad, but that they should put off the
garments unmeet for the wedding, and should put on the marriage garments,
to wit, bowels of mercy and kindness, for this cause the King goes out,
that He may see them set down before the supper is set before them, that
they may be detained who have the wedding garment in which He is delighted,
and that he may condemn the opposite.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "The King came in to see the guests;" not as though there
was any place where He is not; but where He will look to give judgment,
there He is said to be present; where He will not, there He seems to be
absent. The day of His coming to behold is the day of judgment, when He
will visit Christians seated at the board of the Scriptures.
Origen: But when He was come in, He found there one who had not put
off his old behaviour; "He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment."
He speaks of one only, because all, who after faith continue to serve that
wickedness which they had before the faith, are but of one [p. 747] kind.
Greg.: What ought we to understand by the wedding garment, but charity?
For this the Lord had upon Him, when He came to espouse the Church to Himself.
He then enters in to the wedding feast, but without the wedding garment,
who has faith in the Church, but not charity.
Aug., cont. Faust., xxii, 19: Or, he goes to the feast without a garment,
who goes seeking his own, and not the Bridegroom's honour.
Hilary: Or; The wedding garment is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and
the purity of that heavenly temper, which taken up on the confession of
a good enquiry is to be preserved pure and unspotted for the company of
the Kingdom of heaven.
Jerome: Or; The marriage garment is the commandments of the Lord, and
the works which are done under the Law and the Gospel, and form the clothing
of the new man. Whoso among the Christian body shall be found in the day
of judgment not to have these, is straightway condemned. "He saith unto
him, Friend, How camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?"
He calls him "friend," because he was invited to the shredding as being
a friend by faith; but He charges him with want of manners in polluting
by his filthy dress the elegance of the wedding entertainment.
Origen: And forasmuch as he who is in sin, and puts not on the Lord
Jesus Christ, has no excuse, it follows, "But he was speechless."
Jerome: For in that day there will be no room for blustering manner
[marg. note: al. peonitentiae], nor power of denial, when all the Angels
and the world itself are witnesses against the sinner.
Origen: He who has thus insulted the marriage feast is not only cast
out therefrom, but besides by the King's officers, who are set over his
prisons, is chained up from that power of walking which he employed not
to walk to any good thing, and that power of reaching forth his hand, wherewith
he had fulfilled no work for any good; and is sentenced to a place whence
all light is banished, which is called "outer darkness."
Greg.: The hands and feet are then bound by a severe sentence of judgment,
which before refused to be bound from wicked actions by amendment of life.
Or punishment binds them, whom sin had before bound from good works.
Aug, de Trin. xi, 6: The bonds of wicked and depraved desires are the
chains which bind him who deserves to be cast out into outer darkness.
Greg.: By inward darkness we express blindness, [p. 748] of heart; "outer
darkness" signifies the everlasting night of damnation.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, it points to the difference of punishment inflicted
on sinners. Outer darkness being the deepest, inward darkness the lesser,
as it were the out- skirts of the place.
Jerome: By a metaphor taken from the body, "there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth," is shewn the greatness of the torments. The binding
of the hands and feet also, and the weeping of eyes, and the gnashing of
teeth, understand as proving the truth of the resurrection of the body.
Greg.: There shall gnash those teeth which here delighted in gluttony;
there shall weep those eyes which here roamed in illicit desire; every
member shall there have its peculiar punishment, which here was a slave
to its peculiar vice.
Jerome: And because in the marriage and supper the chief thing is the
end and not the beginning, therefore He adds, "For many are called, but
Hilary: For to invite all without exception is a courtesy of public
benevolence; but out of the invited or called, the election will be of
worth, by distinction of merit.
Greg.: For some never begin a good course, and some never continue in
that good course which they have begun. Let each one's care about himself
be in proportion to his ignorance of what is yet to come.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or otherwise; Whenever God will try His Church, He enters
into it that He may see the guests; and if He finds any one not having
on the wedding garment, He enquires of him, How then were you made a Christian,
if you neglect these works? Such a one Christ gives over to His ministers,
that is, to seducing leaders, who bind his hands, that is, his works, and
his feet, that is, the motions of his mind, and cast him into darkness,
that is, into the errors of the Gentiles or the Jews, or into heresy. The
nigher darkness is that of the Gentiles, for they have never heard the
truth which they despise; the outer darkness is that of the Jews, who have
heard but do not believe; the outermost is that of the heretics, who have
heard and have learned.