Our invitation awaits our reply.
Homily 240 –Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
December 11, 2016
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
Many are called – and many are the excuses.
What are we called to? The Gospel tells us we are called to something like a banquet – a great banquet.
No one knows the details, but God has invited us, and is even now preparing it for us. And no one knows when the supper call will be.
Now, there really isn’t a good excuse to miss this banquet. Commerce, or even marriage – not a good excuse.
Nothing – no thing – should get in the way of this banquet. Because without this banquet, we will die. We will be disconnected from life
At first, it was the people of Israel, the Jews, who were invited. And they had excuses galore.
They were so caught up in the activities of this life, this world, they forgot their covenant. They forgot their God.
We have no king but Caesar, they cried. And Caesar was in the Roman thought, a god.
They forgot – they could have no other gods.
And now, that covenant has come to us – We are to have no other gods than God, our creator.
Why? What’s this about, this self-absorbed God?
Well – He tells us plainly that He is a jealous God. He loves us, and doesn’t wish to share us. With anybody, or anything.
That’s the way it was in the garden. It was Him, and us. We didn’t share Him, and He didn’t share us. That was true life, abundant life.
Then something got in the way. Something came between God and us – God and humanity. And that thing was … us. We fell in love with ourselves, cheating on God with ourselves.
And God became sad.
Love isn’t about us, it is about the one we love. To say that someone is in love with themselves isn’t a compliment – quite the opposite. It’s an insult.
Simply put, love must be directed outside ourselves. There is simply no other way – and our fallen life shows us as much.
We can’t offer our love to someone – anyone – and then ignore them, or pursue what we want.
Offering our love involves giving. Considering only their needs. Only their wants. Only their desires. Nothing of our own.
That is love, and that is what God expects from His creation. Not compulsion. Nothing forced. But freely offered love.
So, ignoring this banquet is telling God with our actions that we don’t love Him, we rather love ourselves.
There is a huge problem with that, however.
We cannot give ourselves life. We cannot offer ourselves existence. Only God is self-existing. Only God can say “I AM.” The rest of us can only thank God who said “Let there be …”
That is the source of our existence. God said, let there be. And we exist. We have nothing to say in return. We can do nothing for ourselves, after all.
St. Paul in the reading from his letter to the Corinthians tells us this also.
He tells us that the banquet will be our coming out party. A cotillion of sorts. I don’t know if they have cotillions here, but they did in the south. It was the equivalent of a bat mitzvah for non-Jewish girls. Their introduction to the community, particularly to society.
And so, we will be revealed, presented, at this Banquet that is being prepared. Christ will be revealed as the source of life, and we will be revealed as His bride.
It will be our wedding. And it would be a shame to miss our wedding. A deadly shame, cutting ourselves off from Christ who, as Paul says, is our life.
So what are we to do? St. Paul is very explicit. Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, depraved passions, lust and greed – which is idolatry.
That was once part of our life, before we knew the source of our existence. Now, we put them all away: anger, rage, evil, slander, and shameful language.
We have put on a new “self” – we are in effect remade.
St. Paul cautions us not to lie to one another. If we may add, neither lie to ourselves.
We have been remade, we are being remade, we will be remade. It is a process that the Church calls “theosis.” We become new creations, reborn.
We are made new.
And we are made new to return to the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Life, where nothing will get in the way of our love for God. And God’s love for us.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!