After Mass on Sunday, when the congregation had gone home, Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the eccentric millionaire and church benefactor, called in at Parish House for the customary cup of tea and ginger cake with Mrs Davenport, the priests' housekeeper.
As they sat in the kitchen by the open fire, Father Ignatius came in.
"That's quite a sermon today, Padre ... what?" greeted Theodore.
The priest thanked him as he sat at the table and Mrs Davenport served him tea and cake.
"What was the sermon about?" asked Mrs Davenport, "I missed Mass this morning because we had an emergency with the boiler not working and I called the engineer to fix it before the winter colds ..."
"Oh ... I wrote it down Mrs D ..." Theodore said enthusiastically, "It's in Matthew 22:1-14. Jesus tells a story about a man getting angry and swatting people on the head ... and quite right too, I should say!"
"That's not very charitable," replied Mrs Davenport, "I bet he wasn't a good Christian, behaving like that. He should have been kind and gentle, shouldn't he, Father? Why did he behave like that? Is he one of our parishioners?"
Father Ignatius put his cup down and explained gently, "It is a parable about a king preparing a wedding feast for his son. He invites many guests who do not turn up, so eventually, he invites all the people his servants can find in the streets until the wedding hall is full of guests."
"That's very generous," she said, slicing more cake.
"I bet they didn't have your delicious ginger cake ... what!" chuckled Theodore.
The priest continued, "In this parable we are told of a King who prepares a wedding feast for his son. The invited guests do not turn up and some beat up and kill the King's slaves who go out with the invitations. So the King invites everyone from the streets until the hall is filled.
"The King here is meant to be God. And His Son getting married is Jesus; marrying His Church here on earth - this means everyone, you and I included.
"We are all invited to God's Kingdom, but many don't answer the call. Some even respond violently to the invitation by beating and killing the messengers. The prophets of the Old Testament, the disciples and followers of Jesus, and even today the many persecuted Christians all over the world. So the King in the parable responds accordingly towards the murderous people.
"Now ... at the end of this parable there's an intriguing bit. The King enters the hall full of guests and sees a man not wearing wedding clothes. He is angry with him and gets him tied up and thrown out into the street."
"I didn't quite understand that bit, Padre ..." said Theodore.
"It does seem confusing at first," replied the priest helping himself to another cup of tea, "It is rather harsh treatment for someone not wearing the right clothes. Until we stop and understand Jewish tradition.
"Jesus was talking to the Jews who understood very well that there are special clothes to wear at weddings. Almost every family had such special clothes in case they were invited to a wedding; even the poor would either have such clothes or borrow some.
"No one would dare go to a wedding without special clothes. Even more important, traditionally the host of the wedding also provided special garments for those who did not have any, so they can borrow them for the occasion. So it was more offensive to the King for this guest to wear no wedding garment provided free.
"This guest in the parable just did not bother; he showed disrespect to the King and his son; and was thus thrown out."
"I get it ... quite right too," interjected Theodore, "no ginger cake for him. Out in the cold with gnashing and grinding of teeth."
"What if they are old and with no teeth?" asked Mrs Davenport innocently.
"Then gnashing and grinding of dentures I shouldn't wonder!" replied Theodore.
The priest waited patiently and then continued, "Let's try to understand what Jesus is teaching in this parable.
"There is a clear distinction between those invited guests who refused to attend and the one with no special clothing.
"Those first guests are the people who refuse to accept God and to love and follow Him.
"The guest with the wrong clothes are the people who half-heartedly accept God as an insurance policy ... just in case ... they do not really believe and follow God. Believers in name only. To them, Christianity is just a badge they wear, not a way of life.
"But how about us? What are our special clothes for our entry into God's Kingdom in Heaven?
"Our wedding clothes are our good deeds here on earth. Whatever we do for anyone in need, however small, constitutes our wedding clothes.
"Remember what Jesus said ... Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
"It is just not enough to spend a lifetime on our knees praying, or going to church, if our deeds are far from what is expected of us as followers of Christ.
"Jesus also reminds us in Matthew 7:21 ... Not everyone who calls me Lord will enter the Kingdom of God, but only those who do what my Father wants them to do.
"In other words ... action not words."
MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES HERE