December 11, 2022

Homily One for the Eleventh Sunday of Luke (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on December 30, 1951)

Hear the words of the holy apostle and evangelist John the Theologian, written by him in his great Apocalypse: “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a numerous people, as the sound of many waters, as the voice of mighty thunders, saying: 'Alleluia! for the Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory; for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.' And it was given to her to put on fine linen, clean and bright; the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. And the angel said to me: 'Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.' And he said to me: 'These are the true words of God'” (Apoc. 19:6-9).

Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The Lord spoke about this wedding supper in his great parable about those who were invited to the supper, which you heard in the current Gospel reading.

The Evangelist Luke says that a certain man arranged a great supper, and the apostle Matthew speaks differently about the same thing: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who made a wedding feast for his son ...” (Matt. 22:2).

Here is what Matthew says, which comes extremely close to the words of the Apostle John the Theologian, which I have just read to you in the Apocalypse.

This supper was precisely the wedding feast of the Son of God, and God the Father Himself arranged this great supper. What do we hear next?

Calves and rams were slaughtered, everything was prepared for the wedding feast of the Son of God, whom Luke hid under the guise of a man.

And when everything was ready, when it was time for supper, he sent a servant to say to those who were invited: “Go, for everything is already ready.”

Some of the elect were invited in advance, were called in advance to the wedding feast.

Who were these chosen ones, whom the Lord first called to the wedding supper of His Son?

These were the leaders of the people of Israel, these were its teachers - high priests, scribes, Pharisees, members of the Sanhedrin, elders of the people - first of all, the Lord called them to His feast.

He did not even limit Himself to a single invitation: when everything was ready for the feast, He again sent the servant to say that everything was ready, and to go to the feast.

And how did these chosen ones, these leaders of the people of Israel, respond?

“And everyone began, as if by agreement, to apologize. The first one said to him: 'I bought land and I need to go and see it; please excuse me.'"

And in Slavonic it is said much better: “I pray you, have me repudiated, I renounce your supper."

He bought land and therefore considered the wedding feast of Christ, the supper of the Son of God, to be completely uninteresting. The land he bought was dearer to him, for he placed all his hope only on earthly things, he turned his heart only to earthly things, all his aspirations, all thoughts are directed only to earthly goods, and therefore he does not want any supper in the kingdom of God, more uninteresting, more important is the land that he bought.

“Another said: 'I have bought five pairs of oxen and am going to test them; I pray you have me repudiated.'"

He bought five pairs of oxen, which means that he was not a poor man: he was rich, and because of these five pairs of oxen he refused to eat in the kingdom of God.

Oh, damned covetousness! O unfortunate one, attached with all his heart only to wealth, only to earthly blessings.

We know, we know, that whoever enters the path of covetousness once, never leaves it, for covetousness completely takes possession of a person’s heart, makes this heart insatiable with nothing, for the more a person acquires, the more his passion for acquisitions flares up, the more insatiably he wants new wealth.

“The third said: 'I got married; and therefore I cannot come.'"

The first two still apologized, but this one didn’t even apologize, he simply and rudely says: I don’t need your supper. I got married, I have marriage pleasures ahead, which are much dearer to me than your supper. Have me repudiated.

Again a man devoted with all his heart to the earthly.

“And returning, that servant reported this to his master. Then, in anger, the owner of the house said to his servant: 'Go quickly through the streets and lanes of the city and bring here the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.' And the servant said: 'Master! I have done as you commanded, and there is still room.'”

Who are these blind, lame, poor and wretched, whom the host of the supper gathered through the streets of the city?

These are the ones that the apostle Paul speaks of in his epistle to the Corinthians: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).

They were poor both in body and in spirit, they were humble, simple people who did not boast of their wisdom, because they did not have bookish wisdom, they were uneducated people.

But you know that the Lord Jesus Christ chose His holy apostles precisely from such, from those who know nothing from science, from human wisdom, simple fishermen. Then He chose seventy more.

They are of those who followed Him, and there were crowds of people who were in a completely different disposition than the leaders of Israel, who hated Christ out of envy of Him.

They were simple people, though sinful, and gravely sinful, like publicans and harlots, but who washed His feet with their tears and wiped them with loose hair.

They were not wise, not noble - they were humble.

They felt in their hearts, although sinful, but retaining sensitivity, the holiness of the Lord Jesus, they felt a huge contrast between Christ, the Most Holy of Holies, and themselves, vessels of sin and impurity.

And this holiness of Christ drew them to Him — all those lame ones who stumble in their sinful ways; all these blind men who saw nothing in their hearts that needed to be seen, that needed to be repented of.

It is they - the poor, the lame, the blind, the wretched - it is they who turned their hearts to our Savior, they were gathered by the servant of the master through the streets of the city. But there is still room.

And then “the Master said to the servant: 'Go along the roads and hedges and persuade them to come, so that my house will be filled'” (Lk. 14:17-24).

Who did He order to look for along the country roads, along the hedges?

These are the pagans, among whom the gospel word spread with such speed, these are the pagans who lived far, far from Jerusalem, these are the pagans of that great Roman Empire, which conquered the whole world of that time. It is they who had been persecuting for three centuries for preaching about Christ, it is they who shed so much blood in this process of their knowledge of Christ, the martyrs of Christ are they, the dark pagans who wandered along the crossroads.

It was the Lord who called them.

You know that the gospel of Christ over the course of three centuries conquered the entire pagan world of that time. This is who filled the chamber prepared for the feast.

Saint Matthew adds something more important, which Luke kept silent about: “The king, having entered to look at those reclining, saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and said to him: 'Friend! how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' He was silent. Then the king said to his servants: 'Bind his hands and feet, take him and throw him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'” (Matthew 22:11-13).

And who is this, not dressed in wedding clothes? This is one of those of whom there are many even among today's Christians, one of those who do not understand that "the kingdom of God is taken by violence, and those who use violence take it by force."

This is the one who believed that having received remission and forgiveness of sins in the mystery of baptism, he was already clean; this is one of the hypocrites who think that only by outward observance of rites, by outward piety alone can the Kingdom of God be earned.

They do not want to see the filth of which there is so much in their hearts, they do not want to realize that they are dressed in a dirty sackcloth, a fetid sackcloth woven from their sins, and yet they dare to approach the Supper of Christ.

Oh, how it is necessary to expel them, not to endure their presence! How are we to allow them to participate in the great evening?! In the kingdom of God there is only a place for the saints and no one else.

Well, shall we say that the parable of Christ refers only to those ancient people, the enemies of Christ, the leaders of the people of Israel, and the wicked scribes and Pharisees?

We will not say this: the words of Christ are eternal, they have an eternal and unceasing meaning in our days, and for us, who live almost two thousand years later, they have a deep meaning. For truly, are not all the people whom He has redeemed with His Divine Blood, called to the supper in the kingdom of God?

How many respond to the call?

Oh, how few, how few!

Oh my God! How terrible that the Supper of Christ should be humiliated!

A huge, huge multitude of people do this: they do not care about the Kingdom of Heaven, they do not believe in an eternal afterlife, they do not believe in God and in His eternal Kingdom; they go their own way, rejecting the way of Christ.

Well, let them go according to their will, but let them see where they come. They will see, they will see, they will understand what they rejected, what they laughed at and scoffed at.

But not everyone in the human race is like that.

Of those who rejected Christ's supper, there are many, very many who believe in God, who love Christ and would like to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

But they do not go to the supper, but to Christ calling them to the supper, they answer: "Have me repudiated."

Why, why don't you go?! They embarrassedly answer: "How should we go, because they will laugh at us, they will mock us. Can we go against the current, can we not live the life that everyone lives? Can we stand out among the people of this world? After all, we depend on them in many respects, we are afraid of losing what we have if we go against them."

And they don't want to go against the current... And they go with the flow...

Swim, swim, just watch where you sail - you will sail in complete despair.

You were afraid of the ridicule and mockery of the people of this world, and were you not afraid of the words of the Lord Himself and our God Jesus Christ: “Whoever is ashamed of Me before men, I will be ashamed of him and before My Father in Heaven.”

Are you not afraid of this, is it of less importance to you than the ridicule of the people of this world? Doesn't that encourage you to swim against the current?

It is not in our power to protect such people, but it is in our power to realize the horror of renunciation of the Kingdom of Heaven, of the Supper of Christ.

We need to realize that we will deserve the denial of us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, if we dare to say to Him: “Have me repudiated”, if we do not dare to swim against the current, if we do not put the commandments of Christ above all, not being afraid of what they will say about us people of this world.

Oh, how I wish that among you, my little flock, there would not be a single one who would deserve condemnation from Christ, calling to His eternal supper, so that no one would be expelled from Christ’s supper for having crawled into it in the dirty, fetid clothes of sin.

Life is short, we will all die soon, so let us consider that our remaining days must be used to purify our hearts and become worthy participants in the great and eternal supper of Christ.

May our Lord and God Jesus Christ make us all worthy of this joy!

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.