Sunday, October 15, 2017

Wear the wedding garment!

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

There are three categories of people in our Gospel reading today. The first are those ungrateful subjects who refuse their king’s lawful command that they should attend the wedding banquet. Some simply ignore his invitation and go about their daily business, treating his command with wilful disrespect; others go further and treat the king’s messengers with violence. And terrible is the fate that they bring down upon their heads because of their wickedness – they are destroyed and their city is burned.

The Holy Tradition of our Church has always been clear as to the interpretation as to who these people stand for. In the context of our Lord’s time, they stand for those who reject him and his teachings, and therefore reject both the Father who sent him and his will for the children he created. And Holy Scripture, as we well know, speaks to all ages; so we must consider as well the context of the age in which we ourselves live and what it means for us. This means we must consider the words of our Lord as being a prophetic warning to those who reject him, the Truth of his Gospel, and the Church which he established. No one should desire to be counted among those of this first category. For the destruction of which he speaks in his parable is, of course, eternal.

Moving to the next category, the king in the parable sends his servants into the streets to invite new guests. And so they do. And they are not discriminating. Good and bad alike are invited to the wedding banquet. And so the hall is filled. But it is not enough to simply accept the invitation, as what happens next shows when the king challenges the man who has come not wearing a wedding garment. This man is bound hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

What does all this mean? Again, the interpretation has always been clear. God invites all into his Church. But it is not enough to simply enter in and pay lip service when it comes to following his commandments. For as Christ says elsewhere there will be many who say 'Lord, Lord', claiming that they have been faithful followers of his, who will be told that he never knew them and they must depart into that outer darkness. They may never have formally rejected the Truth of the Gospel, but they have done so in the manner of their living. They may have come to the feast; but they never put upon themselves the wedding garment of obedience. It is not enough to say you believe, or even to actually believe, if that belief is not followed by action. A Christian is not someone who makes a formal intellectual acceptance of God's Truth; a Christian is someone who puts that truth into practice, whatever the cost.

For what is the point of belief if it is not backed up with practice? Let us consider some of the commandments. We say we believe that the Lord is God and we will worship nothing and no one other than him – and yet we will give work, sporting activities, and social events priority above the practice of our faith. We say that we believe that we must keep the Lord’s Day holy – and yet churches are near empty while the day that is his is treated as if it were simply another Saturday. We say that we believe in prayer – yet how many will actually pray even once during the course of a day, much less attempt to engage in the ceaseless prayer that we are called to by Scripture? We say the words ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’ - but how many will then follow that commandment by practising the sexual purity, both in mind and in body, that have always been part of the teaching that Christ gave to the Church he founded? And so on.

These practices are the wedding garment spoken of in the parable – the humble obedience to God’s law and the good deeds that follow from that obedience. Failure to clothe yourself in it leads, as we have noted, to being cast out. And it is not a category that any should wish to find themselves among.

But humbling oneself and putting the wedding garment on, and wearing it always, leads to the eternal life that is represented by the wedding banquet. Those who are invited in and allowed to remain are those who have clad themselves thusly, the practice of their faith bringing them to the everlasting wedding feast of the Lamb that takes place in heaven. These are the third and final category of the three I spoke of as being mentioned in the parable. And it is this last category that I hope and pray all here will numbered among on the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when all shall be judged. Even as I hope that all here will pray likewise for me, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.





Saturday, October 14, 2017

prayer diary Saturday 14 Oct 2017

'Give us each day our daily bread.' 
Luke 11. 3

Reflection
Christ told us to pray for what we need for each day. How many of us labour for a future that is months, years, or decades away, a future we may never see? If you have enough for today be content; and labour instead for the kingdom of heaven.

Friday, October 13, 2017

prayer diary Friday 13 Oct 2017 (day of discipline and self-denial)

‘When the unclean spirit … returns … it finds (the house) swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and ... and the last state of that person is worse than the first.’ 
Luke 11. 24-26

Reflection 
Beware when you think you have made some spiritual progress. That may be the time of greatest spiritual danger as a sense of pride may make you more vulnerable than before. Remember that no achievement is yours but a gift from God; and with deep humility give thanks to Him.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

prayer diary Thursday 12 Oct 2017

So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 
Luke 11. 9

Reflection
Our Father in heaven answers all prayers in the way that he knows is best for us. As you pray, then, strive to ask only for that which will be pleasing to him.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

prayer diary Wednesday 11 Oct 2017 (St Philip the Deacon)

The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 
Luke 10.1

Reflection
Tradition teaches that St Philip was one of those sent out by the Lord. So also are we sent and every human heart we meet is a place he intends to go. Consider carefully then how every act and word of yours serves to prepare them to meet the Living Lord.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

prayer diary Tuesday 10 Oct 2017

‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’ 
Luke 10. 41, 42

Reflection
How many of us spend so much time on the cares of this world that we neglect to prepare for the next? Take time for prayer, worship, Scripture, and spiritual reading; for the time you spend with the Lord is the most productive of all.

Monday, October 9, 2017

prayer diary Monday 9 Oct 2017

'Which of these three ... was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ 
Luke 10. 36, 37

Reflection
In the parable, the Samaritan says that on his return he will pay whatever extra is owed the innkeeper. For us to do likewise means that neither must we count the cost of helping those in need.