Father Rodney Torbic

December 11 / 24, 2017

The Twenty-Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

The Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

Luke 14:16-24

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. (KJV)

Not everyone hearing the Gospel chooses to follow Christ. Of those individuals hearing the Gospel and choosing to follow Christ, only a certain percent remain faithful to Christ throughout the balance of their lives.

The Divine Liturgy is the most precious of all banquets. The opportunity to partake of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ is the greatest invitation. Not everyone chooses to partake of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ.

Christ’s love is very evident in the continued offering of the invitation to draw near. In the Divine Liturgy the priest or deacon comes forth and extends the invitation: “In the fear of God and with faith draw near.”

Unity with Christ comes with drawing near in faith. Believers do well to assess each day the unity existing with Christ. Believers benefit when being honest as to whether Christ is of first importance in their lives.

Honest self-examination is important in the Christian life. Self-examination enables a person to prepare for Holy Confession. The willingness to repent of sins is essential for Christian growth.

Believers willing to confess their sins and seek a new life in Christ have the weight of sin lifted from their shoulders. A new freedom is realized with the forgiveness of sins.

A new responsibility is assumed with repentance and beginning anew in Christ. The current Gospel emphasizes the invitation from Christ. Christ invites believers at every moment of time.

The attentive believer realizes the constant presence of Christ. Christ is always ready to receive believers and individuals desiring to become believers. Accepting Christ’s invitation is not a singular action.

Consistently accepting Christ’s invitation is expected. Sin finds a way to enter believers’ lives. Believers always need to find the wherewithal to repent and seek the Kingdom of God.

Individuals make excuses all the time as to not to accept Christ’s invitations. The excessive pursuit of material goods is a common reason in current society for men and women to avoid Christ’s invitations.

Christ said if a person seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, earthly necessities would be provided (Mt. 6:33). In the current Gospel, the invitee gave more weight to the value of his land than to the invitation to the banquet.

Individuals declining to prepare for Holy Communion give more weight to interests that stand in the way of unity with Christ. Every person determines what is of greatest value in his or her life.

The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mt. 6:21) Material goods can take on great value to individuals. Accumulating possessions can become excessive.

Feuds often develop over property ownership. Anger can increase when property lines are breached. Accepting Christ’s invitation carries with it the expectation the person is at peace with God, with self and with neighbor.

Drawing near to Christ is the direction toward lasting peace. Lasting peace may be found in the midst of external chaos if the person is focused completely on Christ. Nothing deters the determined person from being united with Christ.

Paul said: “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ …” (Rom. 8:38-39)

The master had his invitation declined because the invitee placed great value on his oxen. Concern for new animals had more importance than accepting the invitation that was offered.

Jesus spoke to Martha when she was busy. Her sister Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus. Jesus said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part...” (Lk. 41-42)

Keeping the focus on Christ and the Kingdom of God is of vital importance. Death to the soul results through poor decision-making. Declining invitations to unite with Christ puts the soul at risk. Faithfulness to Christ is necessary.

Faithfulness to Christ brings immeasurable joy. Risks to the soul always exist. The believer must be ever vigilant. Jesus told His disciples: “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Mt. 10:16)

December 11 / 24, 2017.
The Twenty-Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
The Sunday of the Holy Forefathers
Venerable Daniel the Stylite.
Serbian Mothers’ Day.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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