Sunday of the Holy Forefathers - sermon by Fr Andrew Gliga
Today we commemorate the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, those who
preceded Jesus Christ. However, the Gospel reading today is not that of the genealogy
of Christ, but rather is a parable about a man who made a great supper and called
people to join him. Since context is important, we need to establish where this passage
is within the Gospel of Luke. In the passage before, Christ healed a man on the
Sabbath and the Pharisees had complained if it's lawful to heal on the Sabbath day.
They had seen God's glory and greatness and had rejected it making excuses as to why
this healing was unlawful. Christ admonishes them on this account and gives a parable
ending with, "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first". The reading read today is
a continuation of this line, as we see those who are called to join the supper begin to
make excuses as to why they are not able to come.
The parable begins with many people who are invited to this great feast.
However, when the supper is ready most of the people start to make excuses as to why
they cannot attend. One thing we notice here is that these excuses are actually
extremely poor excuses. The first man says that he bought land and has to tend to it.
The second man states he has bought 5 oxen and needs to prove them, basically to put
them to work. As we can see these men seem to choose to put their day to day work
above this supper. St Cyril of Alexandria states based on this parable: "by senselessly
giving themselves up to these earthly matters, they cannot see things spiritual; for being
overcome by the love of the flesh, they are far from holiness, and are covetous and
greedy after wealth." The last man states that he has taken up a wife and cannot come.
In those times, it would be assumed that his wife would also be invited to the banquet
and so even that is a poor reason as to why he should not attend the Lord's banquet.
No one was forcing these three people to do anything, they chose to not attend the
banquet for themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, today is the feast of the Forefathers. Therefore since this
reading is on the same day, we should also examine how the forefathers reacted when
they were called by God. Noah was called by God in order to build the ark which would
save the human race, and his response was that he humbly built the ark. Abraham was
called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac and he silently took up his son to be sacrificed.
We see how Isaac had been called to trust in God to find his wife, how he firmly
believed in God's power, and God eventually brought him his wife Rebecca. Finally,
David the King, was called by God to repent of his double sin of murder and adultery,
yet he made no excuse but rather fell on his knees and wept. The Forefathers had real
hardship, but they accepted it without any sort of complaint. Compare their reaction with
the people in the parable who make excuses, and yet are simply called to the Lord's
supper. They reject the free gift that they are given.
For us, we should use these examples given to us and answer God's calling for
us. God has called us, and given us his Mystical Supper. We should receive this free
gift and always strive to partake of his Body and Blood as often as we can with
preparation and repentance. Of course there are times where it is permissible to be
absent for a reasonable cause, such as being sick, or having to work to provide for our
family. However, most of the time, don't our excuses boil down to: "I have work the next
day", or "I don't have time" or "I'm tired, I slept in I cannot come". How similar are these
excuses to those given in the parable. Instead we should use the examples of the
Forefathers and even in hardships, give ourselves over to the will of God and strive to
join ourselves with him.