Father Rodney Torbic

August 20 / September 2, 2018

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 22:1-14

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. (KJV)

In the Gospel, the king sent his servants to call those invited to the wedding. Churches constantly invite individuals to attend the Lord’s banquet. The invitation is proclaimed: “in the fear of God and with faith draw near.”

Only a small percent of baptized Christians regularly attend the Divine Liturgy. A much smaller percent seriously prepare and regularly partake of Holy Communion.

The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) Having Christ within us is most desirable.

The invitees to the wedding apparently had their reasons for declining the king’s invitation. Christians give different reasons for not regularly attending the Divine Liturgy.

Believers give different reasons why they do not prepare regularly for Holy Communion. Silence and non-participation are patterns of life for many persons having been baptized into Christ.

Large numbers of individuals previously baptized into Christ are inactive in God’s Holy Church. Parish efforts to improve church attendance and participation are not always successful.

The king was determined to have the invitees attend the wedding feast. He sent out servants to announce the preparations that had taken place. Priests regularly give sermons and teach classes about the value of coming to the Divine Liturgy.

The king’s efforts did not change the minds of the individuals invited to the wedding. Priests find it difficult to convince parishioners to resume attending church on a regular basis after periods of absence.

The individuals invited to the wedding went about their daily business. They did not take the king’s invitation seriously. The king had power and authority to hold the wedding feast and invite the guests.

The invitees had the ability to make their own decisions about attending. The choices the invitees made would affect their standing with the king. The choices believers make each day affects their standing with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Invitations from the king were expected to be taken seriously. Invitations from the Lord Jesus Christ deserve serious attention and consideration. The invitees not only ignored the king’s invitation.

A certain number of invitees were hostile and violent to the king’s servants. We know many bishops, priests, deacons and faithful Christians have suffered through the centuries for serving Christ..

Readers of the lives of the saints find ample evidence of martyrs who died solely because they served Christ. Priests today suffer from rudeness and hostility by individuals adverse to Christ.

Christians often work in hostile work environments where their high ethical and moral standards are ridiculed and not wanted. Christian churches and cemeteries are vandalized during the year because they stand for Christ.

The king lost his patience with the people he had invited. The lack of respect, hostility and aggression inflamed the king. He responded with force. The murderers lost their lives.

Individuals not heeding the invitations of Christ will face the judgment of Christ at His glorious Second Coming. Each person’s very existence comes from God and continues only because of God.

Failure to show constant appreciation of God is rude. Being harmful to Christians has perilous consequences. The king determined that the initial invitees were not worthy of attending the wedding.

Many individuals begin the Christian life with enthusiasm and after a period of time become cold in faith. They cease to follow Christ. Many profess love for Christ in times of crisis but when the crisis passes they no longer show interest.

The king went ahead with the wedding feast. The Divine Liturgy continues to be held even when church attendance drops to low levels. The Precious Body and Blood of Christ are prepared at each Divine Liturgy.

The invitation to follow Christ continues to be offered. The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Mt. 7:21)

The king had the power to decide who to invite to the wedding. The Lord Jesus Christ has the power and authority to determine who will be admitted to the Heavenly Kingdom.

August 20 / September 2, 2018
The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
Holy Prophet Samuel; Hieromartyr Phillip, Bishop of Heraklion.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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