The Sunday Of The Holy Forefathers
Luke 14: 16-24
The Gospel reading for today should be a sobering warning to us all. In today’s Gospel reading we hear how a king had prepared a great feast and asked his servants to call his people to come and take part, for all was prepared and ready for them. The servants called the people to the great feast but from one they heard that he had to go tend to his land, from another he had to go tend to his oxen, and from another he had to go tend to his wife. Everyone had some pressing business and asked to be excused in order to tend to this business that they felt was so important.
When the servants reported back that the king’s people would not come, the king became angry and told his servants to go out into the streets and highways to invite any and all –the blind, the lame, the poor. These people were delighted to be called to the king’s feast and filled the room in great gratitude and appreciation.
There are several layers of meaning to today’s Gospel parable… in it we can see the history of God’s interactions with mankind and we should also see how this applies to our own personal life as well.
Today we are two weeks away from the holy feast of the Nativity of Christ… on this day we commemorate the Holy Forefathers – those righteous ones of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is filled with righteous men and women who served our Lord as the faithful servants calling the nation of Israel to the great feast of God. Our Lord had chosen the people of Israel as His own and, through His holy prophets, revealed to them His truths, His laws, and began to unfold before them the expectation of the coming of His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Truly God had prepared a great feast before his people and the Holy Forefathers went out among the people to call them to the feast.
History stands testament to the endless struggle of the long-suffering patience of God with His people, who continually made excuses and turned their backs toward God – refusing to come to His feast. The Holy Forefathers, whom we celebrate today, were those faithful and good servants who came to the feast of the Lord and were instructed by Him to go out and call all others to the feast.
And when the time of fulfillment had come, and our Lord Jesus Christ was born and lived and preached among the people, the Lord’s own people were those that rejected Him. He therefore went to the highways and byways, to the poor, the blind, and the lame to gather those that would come to His divine supper and partake in His glorious feast.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this call of the King - inviting His people to His feast continues in our own day. Indeed, as we heard from the words of our holy father Herman of Alaska this week, this call of the King continues not just each day, but each hour, and each moment.
Today’s Gospel is a potent parable, illustrating for us the call of God and the choice that each of us makes every day, every hour, and every moment.
How do we respond? Don’t the excuses of those in today’s Gospel parable sound frighteningly and embarrassingly familiar to us? “I would come, but I am busy with many things! I must tend to my business. I must tend to this and that.”
Christ stands at the door of our heart and He knocks and He invites us into loving Communion with Him. Do we respond in gratitude and appreciation or do we make excuses… saying “Wait a minute, just let me take care of this or that.” Or “Not now, Lord, I’m busy… I’ll see you next Sunday.”
We all have things to do… that’s just the nature of life in this world. But the issue at stake here is not the ‘what’ that might preoccupy us, but the ‘how’… of how we are being in the midst of those preoccupations. We can and should be with God at all times and in all circumstances… it is a matter of the disposition of the heart and of the mind. We have a choice as to whether we go about our business in a selfish manner that is forgetful of God and His commandments, or whether we go about our business in a manner that clings to the remembrance of God, asking Him to bless each and everything that we do.
I think that if we are being completely honest with ourselves, we would see that the issue is not so much whether we have the time for God, as it is whether we have the heart for God. That is a much more searing question and it really gets to the point. If, instead of saying to ourselves that we do not have time to pray, we admit that we do not have the heart to pray, it reveals a much deeper reality. Again, prayer is a matter of the disposition of the heart… no matter what we are doing, no matter whether we may be stuck at our jobs, or drowning in the responsibilities of family, or whatever that particular ‘what’ might be… if we are attentive to the ‘how we are being’, if we have a heart for God, then we can be with Him, we can be sitting at the feast to which we are called no matter what else may be going on.
The history of the world is indeed the history of the relationship of God and mankind. Let us honor and remember today the holy and righteous Forefathers and Foremothers of the Old Testament - those good servants of the Lord who hastened to His call and called others to the feast of the Lord.
As we heard in today’s Epistle reading, these holy and righteous ones obtained a good testimony through faith, and yet they did not receive the promise. That promise to which they gave testimony was not fulfilled until the birth and saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, live in the time of the fulfillment of the promise. We have a privilege which the holy Forefathers and Foremothers could scarcely conceive of… We are called to the Great Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
May we strive to stop making excuses for ourselves to ignore the call of God. But listening with attention and responding with love, let us live our lives in accordance with God’s commandments and in the joy of the presence of God and His Holy Feast.