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Homily for 8/29/10 - P14 - spiritual banquet

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matthew 22:1-14 There was a host who sought to provide a banquet for his friends. He invited them all to come and promised that there would be an abundance of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2010
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      Matthew 22:1-14

      There was a host who sought to provide a banquet for his friends. He
      invited them all to come and promised that there would be an abundance
      of good food and drink. On the appointed day, all the guests gathered
      and each found his place at the table. As the banquet was about to
      commence, one guest pulled out a lunch pail and began taking food out of
      it and putting it on his plate. Then he poured himself a drink from a
      bottle of water he had brought with him. The other guests were shocked,
      wondering why this person would bring their own food to a banquet
      instead of accepting the food provided by the host. When someone finally
      grew bold enough to ask about this strange behavior, the odd guest
      answered that he only wanted to eat pure food and drink pure water and
      he really was concerned that the food the host was providing might have
      a lot of extra stuff in it that wasn’t absolutely necessary. If such a
      scene were to actually happen, it would be a great insult to the host
      and the guest who brought his own food would appear to be foolish to
      spurn the lavish feast.

      Today we have been offered a great spiritual banquet. In two days we
      have had two great feasts, yesterday the feast of the Dormition or death
      of the Virgin Mary and today the feast of the Icon-not-made-by-hands.
      Both of these feasts are of apostolic origin and yet neither one appears
      in Scripture. We have been offered these spiritual delights by our Lord
      on the “platter” if you will of Holy Tradition – that is the unwritten
      part of the revelation of the Truth given to us by Christ and
      incorporated into the life of the Church.

      After the Resurrection, the Virgin Mary seems to disappear from the
      accounts of Scripture. In fact, even before this, other than the
      narrative of the birth of Jesus Christ and a few scattered references,
      she is not mentioned in the Gospels. We do read, on this feast, one of
      the times when she is mentioned in the teaching of Christ were a woman
      called out “blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts which
      nursed you”. But Jesus replied “no, rather blessed is he who hears the
      word of the Lord and keeps it”. This comment by Christ is often
      misconstrued to suggest that He was telling us that His Mother was
      unimportant. But that is not the case, rather, He is correcting the
      reason for her importance. It is not simply that she gave birth to God
      that makes her blessed and worthy of emulation (for no one could imitate
      her as the birthgiver of the incarnate God) but rather the fact that she
      is the ultimate example of one who “hears the word of God and keeps it”.
      Rather than dismissing her importance, in this statement, Christ is
      lifting her up as an example for us all.

      But we must get back to the feast. As she approached the end of her
      earthly life, the date of her death was revealed to the Virgin Mary by
      God Who sent an angel to tell her to prepare herself. She asked that she
      be granted one last opportunity to see all of the Apostles again, for
      they were dear to her as if they were her own children. God granted this
      request and miraculously gathered the Apostles from the far corners of
      the earth where they had journeyed to preach the Gospel. They all
      gathered in the room of the Virgin and were present at her death. They
      placed her in the tomb of her parents, Sts Joakim and Anna. By God’s
      providence, the Apostle Thomas was delayed and arriving after the
      burial, begged to be permitted to see her body one last time. When the
      tomb was opened a great miracle was revealed for they found only the
      grave clothes. Her body had been resurrected by Christ in anticipation
      of the general resurrection of all. Here is the surety that Christ’s
      resurrection was not limited to Himself alone, but that we all will
      indeed be raised by Him from the dead. It is this promise of our own
      resurrection that we celebrate in this feast.

      The other feast which we celebrate today is the Icon not-made-by-hands.
      During the life of Christ, as He neared His crucifixion, a messenger
      arrived from Prince Abgar of Edessa. Prince Abgar ruled the city of
      Edessa on the banks of the Euphrates (in modern day Iraq). He was
      severely stricken by leprosy which covered his whole body. The prince
      had heard of the great healer in Judea, Jesus of Nazareth and so he sent
      an envoy to ask that Jesus come to him and heal him. Recognizing the
      great distance, the prince also sent an artist who was instructed to
      paint a likeness of Christ so that if Jesus were unable to come Himself,
      He could heal the prince through this image. Hearing the request of the
      prince, Jesus knew that the time of His passion was near and that He
      could not come to Edessa, therefore, anticipating the request for a
      portrait, He took a napkin and wiped his face, miraculously leaving on
      it His own likeness. He gave this napkin to the emissary with the
      message that the prince would be healed by it, but not completely. Jesus
      then promised that He would send His own messenger to complete the
      healing. This is just what happened, for when the envoy returned and
      presented Prince Abgar with the Holy Napkin imprinted with the image of
      the face of Jesus, he kissed it and immediately the leprosy was gone,
      except for a small sore that remained on his face. Later, the Apostle
      Thaddeus journeyed to region of Edessa to preach the Gospel of the
      Resurrection of Christ and he met Prince Abgar and completed his
      healing. At the hand of the Apostle, the prince was baptized. Prince
      Abgar smashed the idols in his city and set the miraculous image of
      Christ above the gate of the city.

      These two events, though they occurred in the time of the Apostles, are
      not found in scripture, but are preserved in the life of the Church for
      us. There are those who reject their veracity simply because they are
      not written in Scripture. There are others who reject them because they
      are “unbelievable”. Whatever the reason, those who reject these
      traditions are like the guest who came to the banquet but who refused
      the feast provided by the host. They deprive themselves of the richness
      of the Gospel because of their own doubt and lack of faith. Rather than
      accept what God gives them through the Church, they prefer their own
      provision.

      In the parable of the Gospel which we heard today there was such a
      guest. He was invited to the feast and indeed he came to the feast. But
      this guest was out of place for he did not enter into the festive nature
      of the banquet. He did not properly prepare and instead of wearing the
      festive clothing provided by the host, he wore only his own attire.
      Because he was unprepared, because he rejected the provision of the host
      and in so doing insulted the host, he was thrown out of the feast and
      excluded from the company of those guests who accepted the hospitality
      of the host and embraced all that he had provided them.


      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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