And Jesus answering,
spoke again in parables to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened
to a king, who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants, to
call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. 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. But they neglected, and went their own ways,
one to his farm, and another to his merchandise.
And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously,
put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending
his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith
to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited
were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall
find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered
together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled
And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not
on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither
not having a wedding garment? But he was silent. 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. For many are called, but few
By St. John Chryostom
Seest thou both
in the former parable and in this the difference between the Son and the
servants? Seest thou at once the great affinity between both parables, and
the great difference also? For this also indicates God's long-suffering,
and His great providential care, and the Jews' ingratitude.
But this parable hath something also more than the other. For it proclaims
beforehand both the casting out of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles;
and it indicates together with this also the strictness of the life required,
and how great the punishment appointed for the careless.
And well is this placed after the other. For since He had said, "It shall
be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof," He declares next
to what kind of nation; and not this only, but He also again sets forth His
providential care towards the Jews as past utterance. For there He appears
before His crucifixion bidding them; but here even after He is slain, He
still urges them, striving to win them over. And when they deserved to have
suffered the most grievous punishment, then He both presses them to the marriage,
and honors them with the highest honor. And see how both there He calls not
the Gentiles first, but the Jews, and here again. But as there, when they
would not receive Him, but even slew Him when He was come, then He gave away
the vineyard; thus here too, when they were not willing to be present at
the marriage, then He called others.
What then could be more ungrateful than they, when being bidden to a marriage
they rush away? For who would not choose to come to a marriage, and that
a King's marriage, and of a King making a marriage for a Son?
And wherefore is it called a marriage? one may say. That thou mightest learn
God's tender care, His yearning towards us, the cheerfulness of the state
of things, that there is nothing sorrowful there, nor sad, but all things
are full of spiritual joy: Therefore also John calls Him a bridegroom, therefore
Paul again saith, "For I have espoused you to one husband;"and, "This is
a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."
Why then is not the bride said to be espoused to Him, but to the Son? Because
she that is espoused to the Son, is espoused to the Father. For it is indifferent
in Scripture that the one or the other should be said, because of the identityof
Hereby He proclaimed the resurrection also. For since in what went before
He had spoken of the death, He shows that even after the death, then is the
marriage, then the bridegroom.
But not even so do these become better men nor more gentle, than which what
can be worse? For this again is a third accusation. The first that they killed
the prophets; then the son; afterwards that even when they had slain Him,
and were bidden unto the marriage of Him that was slain, by the Very one
that was slain, they come not, but feign excuses, yokes of oxen, and pieces
of ground, and wives. And yet the excuses seem to be reasonable; but hence
we learn, though the things which hinder us be necessary, to set the things
spiritual at a higher price than all.
And He not suddenly, but a long time before. For, "Tell," He saith, "them
that are bidden;" and again, "Call them that were bidden;" which circumstance
makes the charge against them heavier. And when were they bidden? By all
the prophets; by John again; for unto Christ he would pass all on, saying,
"He must increase, I must decrease;"by the Son Himself again, "Come unto
me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you;"and again,
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."
But not by words only, but also by actions did He bid them, after His ascension
by Peter, and those with him. "For He that wrought effectually in Peter,"
it is said, "to the apostleship of the circumcision, was mighty also in me
towards the Gentiles."
For since on seeing the Son, they were wroth and slew Him, He bids them again
by His servants. And unto what cloth He bid them? Unto labors, and toils,
and sweat? Nay but unto pleasure. For, "My oxen," He saith, "and my fatlings
are killed." See how complete His banquet? how great His munificence.
And not even this shamed them, but the more long-suffering He showed, so
much the more were they hardened. For not for press of business, but from
"making light of they did not come.
"How then do some bring forward marriages, others yokes of oxen? these things
surely are of want of leisure."
By no means, for when spiritual things call us, there is no press of business
that has the power of necessity.
And to me they seem moreover to make use of these excuses, putting forward
these things as cloak for their negligence, And not this only is the grievous
thing, that they came not, but also that which is a far more violent and
furious act, to have even beaten them that came, and to have used them
despitefully, and to have slain them; this is worse than the former. For
those others came, demanding produce and fruits, and were slain; but these,
bidding them to the marriage of Him that had been slain by them, and these
again are murdered.
What is equal to this madness? This Paul also was laying to their charge,
when he said, "Who both killed the Lord, and their own prophets, and have
Moreover, that they may not say, "He is an adversary of God, and therefore
we do not come," hear what they say who are bidding them; that it is the
father who is making the marriage, and that it is He who is bidding them.
What then did He after these things? Since they were not willing to come,
yea and also slew those that came unto them; He burns up their cities, and
sent His armies and slew them.
And these things He saith, declaring beforehand the things that took place
under Vespasian and Titus, and that they provoked the father also, by not
believing in Him; it is the father at any rate who was avenging.
And for this reason let me add, not straightway after Christ was slain did
the capture take place, but after forty years, that He might show His long
suffering, when they had slain Stephen, when they had put James to death,
when they had spitefully entreated the apostles.
Seest thou the truth of the event, and its quickness? For while John was
yet living, and many other of them that were with Christ, these things came
to pass, and they that had heard these words were witnesses of the events.
See then care utterable. He had planted a vineyard; He had done all things,
and finished; when His servants had been put to death, He sent other servants;
when those had been slain, He sent the son; and when He was put to death,
He bids them to the marriage. They would not come, After this He sends other
servants, and they slew these also.
Then upon this He slays them, as being incurably diseased. For that they
were incurably diseased, was proved not by their acts only, but by the fact,
that even when harlots and publicans had believed, they did these things.
So that, not by their own crimes alone, but also from what others were able
to do aright, these men are condemned,
But if any one should say, that not then were they out of the Gentiles called,
I mean, when the apostles had been beaten and had suffered ten thousand things,
but straightway after the resurrection (for then He said to them, "Go ye
and make disciples of all nations."We would say, that both before the
crucifixion, and after the crucifixion, they addressed themselves to them
first. For both before the crucifixion, He saith to them, "Go to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel;"and after the crucifixion, so far from forbidding,
He even commanded them to address themselves to the Jews. For though He said,
"Make disciples of all nations," yet when on the point of ascending into
Heaven, He declared that unto those first they were to address themselves;
For, "ye shall receive power," saith He, "after that the Holy Ghost is come
upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all
Judaea, and unto the uttermost part of the earth;"and Paul again, "He that
wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, was
mighty in me also toward the Gentiles." Therefore the apostles also went
first unto the Jews, and when they had tarried a long time in Jerusalem,
and then had been driven away by them, in this way they were scattered abroad
unto the Gentiles.
2. And see thou even herein His bounty; "As many as ye shall find," saith
He, "bid to the marriage. For before this, as I said, they addressed themselves
both to Jews and Greeks, tarrying for the most part in Judaea; but since
they continued to lay plots against them, hear Paul interpreting this parable,
and saying thus, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have
been spoken to you, but since ye judge yourselves unworthy, lo, we turn to
Therefore Christ also saith, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden
were not worthy."
He knew this indeed even before, but that He might leave them no pretext
of a shameless sort of contradiction, although He knew it, to them first
He both came and sent, both stopping their mouths, and teaching us to fulfill
all our parts, though no one should derive any profit.
Since then they were not worthy, go ye, saith He, into the highways, and
as many as ye shall find, bid; both the common sort, and the outcasts. For
because He had said m every way."The harlots and publicans shall inherit
heaven;" and, "The first shall be last, and the last first;" He shows that
justly do these things come to pass; which more than anything stung the Jews,
and goaded them far more grievously than their overthrow, to see those from
the Gentiles brought into their privileges, and into far greater than theirs.
Then in order that not even these should put confidence in their faith alone,
He discourses unto them also concerning the judgment to be passed upon wicked
actions; to them that have not yet believed, of coming unto Him by faith,
and to them that have believed, of care with respect to their life. For the
garment is life and practice.
And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account?
Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace, yet, when
called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is
of the diligence of them that are called.
The being called was not of merit, but of grace. It was fit therefore to
make a return for the grace, and not to show forth such great wickedness
after the honor. "But I have not enjoyed," one may say, "so much advantage
as the Jews." Nay, but thou hast enjoyed far greater benefits. For what things
were being prepared for them throughout all their time, these thou hast received
at once, not being worthy. Wherefore Paul also saith, "And that the Gentiles
might glorify God for His mercy."For what things were due to them, these
thou hast received.
Wherefore also great is the punishment appointed for them that have been
remiss. For as they did despite by not coming, so also thou by thus sitting
down with a corrupt life. For to come in with filthy garments is this namely,
to depart hence having one's life impure; wherefore also he was speechless.
Seest thou how, although the fact was so manifest, He doth not punish at
once, until he himself, who has sinned, has passed the sentence? For by having
nothing to reply he condemned himself, and so is taken away to the unutterable
For do not now, on hearing of darkness, suppose he is punished by this, by
sending into a place where there is no light only, but where" there is "also"
weeping and gnashing of teeth."And this He saith, indicating the intolerable
Hear ye, as many as having partaken of the mysteries, and having been present
at the marriage, clothe your souls with filthy deeds Hear whence ye were
From the highway. Being what? Lame and halt in soul, which is a much more
grievous thing than the mutilation of the body. Reverence the love of Him,
who called you, and let no one continue to have filthy garments, but let
each of you busy himself about the clothing of your soul.
Hear, ye women; hear, ye men; we need not these garments that are bespangled
with gold, that adam our outward parts,but those others, that adorn the inward.
Whilst we have these former, it is difficult to put on those latter. It is
not possible at the same time to deck both soul and body. It is not possible
at the same time both to serve mam-mon, and to obey Christ as we ought.
Let us put off us therefore this grievous tyranny. For neither if any one
were to adorn thy house by hanging it with golden curtains, and were to make
thee sit there in rags, naked, wouldest thou endure it with meekness. But
lo, now thou doest this to thyself, decking the house of thy soul, I mean
the body, with curtains beyond number, but leaving the soul itself to sit
in rags. Knowest thou not that the king ought to be adorned more than the
city? so therefore while for the city hangings are prepared of linen, for
the king there is a purple robe and a diadem. Even so do thou wrap the body
with a much meaner dress, but the mind do thou clothe in purple, and put
a crown on it, and set it on a high and conspicuous chariot. For now thou
art doing the opposite, decking the city in various ways, but suffering the
king, the mind, to be dragged bound after the brute passions.
Rememberest thou not, that thou art bidden to a marriage, and to God's marriage?
Considerest thou not how the soul that is bidden ought to enter into those
chambers, clad, and decked with fringes of gold.
3. Wilt thou that I show thee them that are clad thus, them that have on
a marriage garment?
Call to mind those holy persons, of whom I discoursed to you of late, them
that wear garments of hair, them that dwell in the deserts. These above all
are the wearers of the garments of that wedding; this is evident from hence,
that how many soever purple robes thou weft to give them, they would not
choose to receive them; but much as a king, if any one were to take the beggar's
rags, and exhort him to put them on, would abhor the clothing, so would those
persons also his purple robe. And from no other cause have they this feeling,
but because of knowing the beauty of their own raiment. Therefore even that
purple robe they spurn like the spider's web. For these things hath their
sackcloth taught them; for indeed they are far more exalted and more glorious
than the very king who reigns.
And if thou wert able to open the doors of the mind, and to look upon their
soul, and all their ornaments within, surely thou wouldest fall down upon
the earth, not bearing the glory of their beauty, and the splendor of those
garments, and the lightning brightness of their conscience.
For we could tell also of men of old, great and to be admired; but since
visible examples lead on more those of grosset souls, therefore do I send
you even to the tabernacles of those holy persons. For they have nothing
sorrowful, but as if in heaven they had pitched their tents, even so are
they encamped far off the wearisome things of this present life, in campaign
against the devils; and as in choirs, so do they war against him. Therefore
I say, they have fixed their tents, and have fled from cities, and markets,
and houses. For he that warreth cannot sit in a house, but he must make his
habitation of a temporary kind, as on the point of removing straightway,
and so dwell. Such are all those persons, contrary to us. For we indeed live
not as in a camp, but as in a city at peace.
For who in a camp ever lays foundation, and builds himself a house, which
he is soon after to leave? There is not one; but should any one attempt it,
he is put to death as a traitor. Who in a camp buys acres of land, and makes
for himself trades? There is not one, and very reasonably. "For thou art
come here," they would say, "to fight, not to traffic; why then dost thou
trouble thyself about the place, which in a little time thou wilt leave?
When we are gone away to our country, do these things."
The same do I now say to thee also. When we have removed to the city that
is. above, do these things: or rather thou wilt have no need of labors there;
after that the king will do all things for thee. But here it is enough to
dig a ditch round only, and to fix a palisade, but of building houses there
is no need.
Hear what was the life of the Scythians, that lived in their wagons, such,
as they say, are the habits of the shepherd tribes. So ought Christians to
live; to go about the world, warring against the devil, rescuing the captives
held in subjection by him, and to be in freedom from all worldly things.
Why preparest thou a house, O man, that thou mayest bind thyself more? Why
dost thou bury a treasure, and invite the enemy against thyself? Why dost
thou compass thyself with walls, and prepare a prison for thyself?
But if these things seem to thee to be hard, let us go away unto the tents
of those men, that by their deeds we may learn the easiness thereof. For
they having set up huts, if they must depart from these, depart like as soldiers,
having left their camp in peace. For so likewise are they encamped, or rather
even much more beautifully.
For indeed it is more pleasant to behold a desert containing huts of monks
in close succession, than soldiers stretching the canvas in a camp, and fixing
spears, and suspending from the point of the spears saffron garments,and
a multitude of men having heads of brass, and the bosses of the shields
glistening much, and men armed all throughout with steel. and royal courts
hastily made, and ground levelled far, and men dining and piping. For neither
is this spectacle so delightful as that of which I now speak.
For if we were to go away into the wilderness, and look at the tents of Christ's
soldiers, we shall see not canvas stretched, neither points of spears, nor
golden garments making a royal pavilion; but like as if any one upon an earth
much larger than this earth, yea infinite, had stretched out many heavens,
strange and awful would be the sight he showed; even so may one see here.
For in nothing are their lodging-places in a condition inferior to the heavens;
for the angels lodge with them, and the Lord of the angels. For if they came
to Abraham, a man having a wife, and bringing up children, because they saw
him hospitable; when they find much more abundant virtue, and a man delivered
from the body, and in the flesh disregarding the flesh, much more do they
tarry there, and celebrate the choral feast that becomes them. For there
is moreover a table amongst them pure from all covetousness, and full of
No streams of blood are amongst them, nor cutting up of flesh, nor heaviness
of head, nor dainty cooking, neither are there unpleasing smells of meat
amongst them, nor disagreeable smoke, neither runnings and tumults, and
disturbances, and wearisome clamors; but bread and water, the latter from
a pure fountain, the former from honest labor. But if any time they should
be minded to feast more sumptuously, their sumptuousness consists of fruits,
and greater is the pleasure there than at royal tables. There is no fear
there, or trembling; no ruler accuses, no wife provokes, no child casts into
sadness, no dis- orderly mirth dissipates, no multitude of flatterers puffs
up; but the table is an angel's table free from all such turmoil.
And for a couch they have grass only beneath them, like as Christ did when
making a dinner in the wilderness. And many of them do this, not being even
under shelter, but for a roof they have heaven, and the moon instead of the
light of a candle, not wanting oil, nor one to attend to it; on them alone
does it shine worthily from on high.
4. This table even angels from heaven beholding are delighted and pleased.
For if over one sinner that repenteth they rejoice, over so many just men
imitating them, what will they not do? There are not master and slave; all
are slaves, all free men. And do not think the saying to be a dark proverb,
for they are indeed slaves one of another, and masters one of another.
They have no occasion to be in sadness when evening has overtaken them, as
many men feel, revolving the anxious thoughts that spring from the evils
of the day. They have no occasion after their supper to be careful about
robbers, and to shut the doors, and to put bars against them, neither to
dread the other ills, of which many are afraid, extinguishing their candles
with strict care, lest a spark anywhere should set the house on fire.
And their conversation again is full of the whereof we discourse, that are
nothing to us; such a one is made governor, such a one has ceased to be governor;
such a one is dead, and another has succeeded to the inheritance, and all
such like, but always about the things to come do they speak and seek wisdom;
and as though dwelling in another world, as though they had migrated unto
heaven itself, as living there, even so all their conversation is about the
things there, about Abraham's bosom, about the crowns of the saints, about
the choiring with Christ; and of things present they have neither any memory
nor thought, but like as we should not deign to speak at all of what the
ants do in their holes and clefts; so neither do they of what we do; but
about the King that is above, about the war in which they are engaged, about
the devil's crafts, about the good deeds which the saints have achieved.
Wherein therefore are we different from ants, when compared with them? For
like as they care for the things of the body, so also do we; and would it
were for these alone: but now it is even for things far worse. For not for
necessary things only do we care like them, but also for things superfluous.
For those insects pursue a business free from all blame, but we follow after
all covetousness, and not even the ways of ants do we imitate, but the ways
of wolves, but the ways of leopards, or rather we are even worse than these.
For to them nature has assigned that they should be thus fed, but us God
hath honored with speech, and a sense of equity,and we are become worse than
the wild beasts.
And whereas we are worse than the brutes, those men are equal to the angels,
being strangers and pilgrims as to the things here; and all things in them
are made different from us, clothing, and food, and house, and shoes, and
speech. And if any one were to hear them conversing and us, then he would
know full well, how they indeed are citizens of heaven, but we are not worthy
so much as of the earth.
So that therefore, when any one invested with rank is come unto them, then
is all inflated pride found utterly vain. For the laborer there, and he that
hath no experience of worldly affairs, sits near him that is a commander
of troops, and prides himself on his authority, upon the grass, upon a mean
cushion. For there are none to extol him, none to puff him up; but the same
result takes place, as if any one were to go to a goldsmith, and a garden
of roses, for he receives some brightness from the gold and from the roses;
so they too, gaining a little from the splendor of these, are delivered from
their former arrogance. And like as if any were to go upon a high place,
though he be exceedingly short, he appears high; so these too, coming unto
their exalted minds, appear like them, so long as they abide there, but when
they are gone down are abased again, on descending from that height.
A king is nothing amongst them, a governor is nothing; but like as we, when
children are playing at these things, laugh; so do they also utterly spurn
the inflamed pride of them who strut without. And this is evident from hence,
that if any one would give them a kingdom to possess in security, they would
never take it; yet they would take it, unless their thoughts were upon what
is greater than it, unless they accounted the thing to be but for a season.
What then? Shall we not go over unto blessedness so great? Shall we not come
unto these angels; shall we not receive clean garments, and join in the
ceremonies of this wedding feast; but shall we continue begging, in no respect
in a better condition than the poor in the streets, or rather in a state
far worse and more wretched? For much worse than these are they that are
rich in evil ways, and it is better to beg than to spoil, for the one hath
excuse, but the other brings punishment; and the beggar in no degree offends
God, but this other both men and God; and undergoes the labors of rapine,
but all the enjoyment thereof other men often reap.
Knowing then these things, let us lay aside all covetousness, and covet the
things above, with great earnestness "taking the kingdom by force." For it
cannot be, it cannot be that any one who is remiss should enter therein.
But God grant that we all having become earnest, and watchful may attain
thereto, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom
be glory and might, world without end. Amen.