10. A King Makes A Wedding Feast For His Son (Part 2)

The kingdom of Heaven is compared to a man, a king, who made a wedding feast (Gk marriages) for (to) his son. sent other slaves, saying, Tell the ones invited, Behold, I have prepared my supper; my oxen, and the fatlings are killed, and all things ready; come to the wedding feast. But not caring they went away, one to his own field, and one to his trading. And the rest, seizing his slaves, insulted and killed them. And hearing, the king became angry. And sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, Indeed, the wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Then go onto the exits of the highways and call to the wedding feast as many as you may find. And going out into the highways, those slaves gathered all, as many as they found, both evil and good. And the wedding feast was filled with reclining guests. And the king coming in to look over those reclining, he saw a man there not having been dressed (put on) in a wedding garment. And he said to him, Friend, how did you come in here, not having a wedding garment? But he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, Binding his feet and hands, take him away and throw him out into the outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of the teeth. For many are called, but few chosen. (Matthew 22:2-14)

We continue with our look into what this parable has to say in regard to the operation of spiritual principles within our mind and how we experience them as “the kingdom of heaven” coming into our lives. A king, we saw last time, represents in the symbolic language of Scripture the Divine Truth and that this king ‘seeks to make marriages for his son,‘ speaks to the idea that everything from the Word that we take into our life is in the constant effort to bring about a marriage within our mind. The Divine Truth or the Word constantly seeks to make us whole, through creating the conditions or states of mind and life within us into which the Lord can make himself more fully present with us. Truths attract to themselves goodness from the Lord and when these two spiritual elements come together within the human mind, so that mind takes on the form of heaven, our minds literally become a form that mirrors the kingdom of heaven.

There are three invitations that go out to those called to this spiritual marriage – the first and second are rejected. In the first instance the invitation is met with a point blank refusal to come. The second is interesting in that the king tells his servants to tell those called that all is prepared and that those preparations include oxen and fatted calves. The general response to this added knowledge of what is available at the wedding feast is indifference, or a state showing that the invitation carries little if any value even when it is known what has been prepared. Further to this, of those who receive the second invitation, we have three different responses; the first says one went to his own field, the second says one went to his merchandise or trading, and the third says that those remaining took hold of the servants, insulted and killed them.

Now spiritually we remind ourselves that these things are illustrative of the operation of the principles of kingdom of heaven in us all. It’s important that we don’t shy away from, or skip over what this teaches us about what exists within us. There are things that exist in the lower parts of our mind that respond exactly like this to spiritual influence, and we can’t know these things of ourselves. Without the Word or a Divine revelation to instruct us we would be forever in the dark concerning such matters. This is why we have been given the Word and the teaching of the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity drawn from it. The natural response is to think that these responses to the invitation of this king, in the first part of this parable, apply to others but we need to be aware that all revelation is given to teach us about ourselves. Yes, we can generalise the principles in our work with others but we need to see first and foremost that all revelation is to be seen in the context of our own life and it is there we need to look to apply its principles and teachings.

Anyone who takes the time to reflect from a spiritual perspective on their own inner processes can see these principles at work in their lives. We hear some teaching, for example the principles of Logopraxis, which calls us to work on our life, to make small efforts to do something each day so that we can have a conscious spiritual focus to guide us. We could for example, in the space of the time we have right now, reflect on how we responded to what we heard last time we looked at this parable. Perhaps we were indifferent to what was said, and so refused to respond to the call that some truth challenged us with. Or perhaps we heard something that we thought was interesting, we got a glimpse of the feast prepared in the Word and our initial response was a sense that we should do something about some aspect of our life, but as we got caught up in daily life again, we forgot what it was. This is like going back to our own field and doing nothing in response to the invitation to come to the marriage. Or maybe we did remember at some point but went into trading mode and traded off the promptings of our conscience to carry through with a spiritual response by placing more importance on natural demands, needs, or desires; we ended up going back to our trading.

The third response is perhaps more difficult for us to face in ourselves, but it’s there. This response flows from what is lowest in us and comes as a more severely felt spiritual temptation to reject the challenge or invitation truth puts to us. This comes in areas of our lives where our attachment to the things of self and the world is strong. As truths are brought to bear upon these areas of our life, the natural man’s response is to bind these truths that are the servants of the king, or to reduce their influence and power in the mind that looks to enable us to respond to the call. When we begin to find excuses and reasons not to do what truth calls us to do, we “insult” the truth. The Geek word used here for insult carries connotations of pride and arrogance, and a sense that we know what’s best for us and so an attitude that sets itself against the things of heaven, which are all traits of the natural man that we all find ourselves in at times. These servant truths, that gently call us to the marriage, are unable to stand in the face of the rationalisations of the natural man and so are said to be killed, that is, their ability to influence the mind is extinguished. We see the supreme example of this in the Lord’s own incarnation into the world. He came as a gentle servant to call all to a wedding and ended up being bound, insulted and killed.

But for those who are seeking to live the life of heaven, this is not the end. Yes, these principles outwork themselves on the lowest level of the mind but we are much more than this. The king is within us, in the deepest reaches of our soul. His servants are also within us, they make up genuine spiritual teaching going forth from the king working to bring all things of the mind into order. He calls us to a marriage. His invitation goes out and loses its impact in the far reaches of His kingdom which are the most external or natural parts of the human mind. And yet, this very parable now gives us insight into these things. From these insights, we can see what resists heaven within us, which opens the way for spiritual work, for self-examination and repentance. It is a realisation that enables us to enter into a new state of mind, in which we can see our evils and if we acknowledge them before the Lord we are able to receive truths of a different kind.  Truths that are able to combat and destroy these tendencies toward indifference or to reject the challenges truths from the Word puts before us.

This is described in the statement found in verse 7…

And hearing, the king became angry. And sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 

We know that the Lord is never angry with anyone and so here, we are to understand this word that describes the king as being angry to mean, as the Greek word indicates, the king was impassioned . The Lord’s passion is for the salvation of the human race, everything He does looks to this end, for love can do nothing else. And so, with ‘the sending of his armies’ we see that as we look to Him to identify and then resist our evils, we are provided with the means from the Word to deal with what stands opposed to the coming of the kingdom. This single verse captures the need for us to fight against our evils from the truths of the Lord’s Word. As we do this we are empowered to live the spiritual life so that all the arguments and rationalisations that promote the natural life over spiritual life cannot stand. This is what is meant by ‘their city being burned.’

To fight from the Lord’s Word is to use the teachings we find there to reflect on our own motives, thoughts and behaviours and to use it as the standard against which all things are assessed. As we do this freely by compelling ourselves, so we are strengthened in our ability to obey; as we have seen previously, we are in effect – response enabled. This means we are made open and receptive to the Lord’s call which is now seen, for having engaged in the battle with those things in us opposed to the kingdom of heaven and having had what is not worthy removed, the invitation goes out once more for the third and final time…

Then he said to his slaves, Indeed, the wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Then go onto the exits of the highways and call to the wedding feast as many as you may find. And going out into the highways, those slaves gathered all, as many as they found, both evil and good. And the wedding feast was filled with reclining guests. 

Here we have a similar principle to that captured in the parables of The Wheat and Tares and The Dragnet, in that there is an ingathering of all things in the mind both evil and good and as we shall see in a moment, a sorting out takes place. The place where this gathering takes place is interesting. We see in verse 9 that the servants are to go onto the exits of the highways – or literally “the exits of the way.” This refers to where two or more roads meet and divide out, it is best described as a crossroad. This point of where the roads meet is where the gathering can take place. Spiritually there are a number of aspects to this that provide us with important insights.

Firstly, those elements that are responsive in a person are those that are said to be “in the way”. They are those elements within that are on the road or path. To be on a road, or in the way is to be in the effort to live from the spiritual teachings we have. Secondly, if we interpret this point of gathering as ‘the exits of the ways,’ we see that this path involves the exercise of freedom, as to take an exit from the road where many roads cross is to be in the process of choosing one path over another. Thirdly, if we interpret this point of gathering as the crossing of the ways we are given further insight into a spiritual principle; that even when the ideas of spiritual life are crossed, and may even have elements of falsity in them, as long as we are in the effort to live sincerely from them we will be able to respond to the invitation to the wedding. There is a wonderful passage in the work the Arcana Coelestia 172 that speaks of this…

…before truths and forms of good can be seen, thus before the person can enter into association with those in heaven, it is necessary for those evils and falsities to be revealed, in order that he may see them and know them for what they are, and thereby learn what truth is and what good is. This cannot possibly be accomplished without conflict with the evils and falsities present in him. An actual conflict takes place in which evil spirits stir up falsities and evils, but angels excuse them, if the person’s end in view has been good, and instil truths. It feels to him as though this were going on within himself, as with a person’s experience of temptation.

The final phase of the process of entering into the marriage of good and truth within ourselves is described as the king coming in to see his guests. This is clearly a process of examination to determine the appropriateness of those present to be reclining at the feast. There we find one described as not having a wedding garment or the proper attire and so is bound and cast out. Clothing spiritually corresponds to the ideas we cloth our affections with. In this particular case to be in the wedding, a wedding garment is required. This is not some arbitrary rule, it’s a spiritual principle. To have a wedding garment spiritually speaking is to have truths organised in a way that looks to their application to the life of the mind. This teaches us that there is a point in our spiritual growth and development when those ideas we are in that have no bearing on the inner life are to be separated out from those that look to life or are being married to life. Again, as we saw in an earlier parable this reorganisation of the mind will come with its emotional and spiritual struggles for we see that “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” To have knowledge of spiritual things without applying this knowledge to spiritually focused work is “to not have a wedding garment.” This one is said to be speechless because the state represented is one which fails to speak of the marriage of good and truth.

We are told that many are called by few chosen. All are invited but those elements that are chosen are with those who have exercised their freedom in the light of their understanding of spiritual truths. They have chosen life in response to the challenges that the Lord makes by means of the truths found in His Word.

The meaning of ‘the way’ as truth has its origin in things that appear in the spiritual world. There also ways and paths appear, and in the cities streets and lanes; and spirits do not take any except the ones leading to those whom love draws them into association with. This explains why spirits’ characters as regards truth may be recognised from the way or road they go along; for all truth leads to its own love, that being called truth which lends support to what is loved. It also explains why in the everyday language people use ‘the way to go’ denotes that which is true; for human language derives this usage, as it does very many others, from the spiritual world. (Arcana Coelestia 10422 {2})

As heaven is from the human race, and angels therefore are of both sexes, and from creation woman is for man and man is for woman, thus the one belongs to the other, and this love is innate in both, it follows that there are marriages in heaven as well as on the earth. But marriages in heaven differ widely from marriages on the earth. Therefore what marriages in heaven are, and how they differ from marriages on the earth and wherein they are like them, shall now be told.

Marriage in heaven is a conjunction of two into one mind. It must first be explained what this conjunction is. The mind consists of two parts, one called the understanding and the other the will. When these two parts act as one they are called one mind. In heaven the husband acts the part called the understanding and the wife acts the part called the will. When this conjunction, which belongs to man’s interiors, descends into the lower parts pertaining to the body, it is perceived and felt as love, and this love is marriage love. This shows that marriage love has its origin in the conjunction of two into one mind. This in heaven is called cohabitation; and the two are not called two but one. So in heaven a married pair is spoken of, not as two, but as one angel.

Moreover, such a conjunction of husband and wife in the inmosts of their minds comes from their very creation; for man is born to be intellectual, that is, to think from the understanding, while woman is born to be affectional, that is, to think from her will; and this is evident from the inclination or natural disposition of each, also from their form; from the disposition, in that man acts from reason and woman from affection; from the form in that man has a rougher and less beautiful face, a deeper voice and a harder body; while woman has a smoother and more beautiful face, a softer voice, and a more tender body. There is a like difference between understanding and will, or between thought and affection; so, too, between truth and good and between faith and love; for truth and faith belong to the understanding, and good and love to the will. From this it is that in the Word “youth” or “man” means in the spiritual sense the understanding of truth, and “virgin” or “woman” affection for good; also that the church, on account of its affection for good and truth, is called a “woman” and a “virgin;” also that all those that are in affection for good are called “virgins” (as in Revelation 14:4). 

Everyone, whether man or woman, possesses understanding and will; but with the man the understanding predominates, and with the woman the will predominates, and the character is determined by that which predominates. Yet in heavenly marriages there is no predominance; for the will of the wife is also the husband’s will, and the understanding of the husband is also the wife’s understanding, since each loves to will and to think like the other, that is mutually and reciprocally. Thus are they conjoined into one. This conjunction is actual conjunction, for the will of the wife enters into the understanding of the husband, and the understanding of the husband into the will of the wife, and this especially when they look into one another’s faces; for, as has been repeatedly said above, there is in the heavens a sharing of thoughts and affections, more especially with husband and wife, because they reciprocally love each other. This makes clear what the conjunction of minds is that makes marriage and produces marriage love in the heavens, namely, that one wishes what is his own to be the others, and this reciprocally.

I have been told by angels that so far as a married pair are so conjoined they are in marriage love, and also to the same extent in intelligence, wisdom and happiness, because Divine truth and Divine good which are the source of all intelligence, wisdom, and happiness, flow chiefly into marriage love; consequently marriage love, since it is also the marriage of good and truth, is the very plane of Divine influx. For that love, as it is a conjunction of the understanding and will, is also a conjunction of truth and good, since the understanding receives Divine truth and is formed out of truths, and the will receives Divine good and is formed out of goods. For what a man wills is good to him, and what he understands is truth to him; therefore it is the same whether you say conjunction of understanding and will or conjunction of truth and good.

Conjunction of truth and good is what makes an angel; it makes his intelligence, wisdom, and happiness; for an angel is an angel accordingly as good in him is conjoined with truth and truth with good; or what is the same, accordingly as love in him is conjoined with faith and faith with love.(Heaven and Hell 366-370)

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