Sunday, December 16: “For many are called, but few are chosen!”

THE SEVENTH EOTHINON GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John 20:1- 10

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So, she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that He must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

THE EPISTLE

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians 3:4-11

Brethren, when Christ, Who, is our life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is December 16, 2018 Liturgy Variables 2 Sunday of Forefathers being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. THE GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 14:16- 24

The Lord spoke this parable: “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ But, one by one, they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So, the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation. And proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled; Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION IN TONE FOUR

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation. And proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled; Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF THE FOREFATHERS

Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Thou hast justified by faith the ancient Forefathers, and through them Thou hast gone before and betrothed unto Thyself the Church of the Gentiles. Let the saints, therefore, take pride in glory; for from their seed sprouted forth a noble fruit, and it was she who gave birth to Thee without seed. Wherefore, by their pleadings, O Christ God, save our souls.

AT THE DIVINE LITURGY

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation. And proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled; Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF THE FOREFATHERS

Thou hast justified by faith the ancient Forefathers, and through them Thou hast gone before and betrothed unto Thyself the Church of the Gentiles. Let the saints, therefore, take pride in glory; for from their seed sprouted forth a noble fruit, and it was she who gave birth to Thee without seed. Wherefore, by their pleadings, O Christ God, save our souls.

THE APOLYTIKON OF THE PROTECTION OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS

Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!

KONTAKION OF PREPARATION OF CHRIST’S NATIVITY

On this day the Virgin cometh to the cave to give birth to * God the Word ineffably, * Who was before all the ages. * Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing * the gladsome tidings; * with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him * Who is willing to be gazed on * as a young Child Who * before the ages is God.

Profitable Word

Saint Nicholas Velimirovich

Christian love moves in a circle. First comes love for yourself, then love for your friends and, finally, love for God. Christ took our love for our self as the standard for measuring our love for our enemies and our love for God. He said: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’.

Twenty-eighth Sunday after Pentecost The Parable of the Supper

Luke 14:16-24

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Luke by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

16-20. Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and called many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were called, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one accord began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Because the man who sat at table with Him had said, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God, the Lord teaches him at some length what it means to feast with God, and tells this parable. By a certain man the Lord means His Father, the Lover of man. Whenever Scripture alludes to God’s power to punish, He is called a panther, a leopard, or a bear [Hos. 13:7-8]. But whenever it alludes to God’s love for man, He is presented as a man, as is the case here. Since the parable treats of God’s extreme love for man and the divine economy of the Incarnation which He worked in us, making us sharers of the Flesh of His Son, the parable calls God a man and this divine economy a great supper. It is a supper because the Lord came in the last days, as it were at the evening of this age. And this supper is great because great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our salvation. [I Tim. 3:16] And he sent his servant at supper time. Who is this servant? The Son of God, Who assumed the form a servant and became man, and as a man is said to have been sent forth. Notice how He did not say “a servant,” but instead, using the definite article, the servant [of his.]

Christ is the One and only Servant Who in His human nature was perfectly obedient and pleasing to God. For Christ is pleasing to the Father not only as Son and God, but also as Man. He is the only Sinless One Who carried out all the counsels and commandments of the Father and fulfilled all righteousness, and in this sense is said to serve God the Father. He alone can be called the true Servant of God. He was sent at supper time, that is, at the appointed and proper time. For there was no other time more opportune for our salvation than the reign of Caesar Augustus, when iniquity had reached its peak and it was critical that it be cleansed. Just as physicians allow a festering and malignant boil to burst and release all its foul pus, and only then apply the medication, so too it was necessary that sin first display all its forms, and then the Great Physician applied His medicine. For this very reason the Lord waited for the devil to fill the full measure of iniquity, and then the Son of God took flesh and healed every form of iniquity by every aspect of His holy life. Therefore, He was sent at that hour, that is, at that comely and opportune season of which David says, Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, 0 Mighty One, in Thy comeliness. Certainly the sword here signifies the Word of God [Heb. 4:12], while the words upon Thy thigh indicate His Nativity in the flesh which was in comeliness, that is, when the time was right and seemly. He was sent to speak to those who had been called. Who are those that were called? Perhaps this refers to all men. For God has called all to the knowledge of Him, by means of the order and harmony of visible creation, and by means of the natural law. But those that were called are also, more specifically, the children of Israel, who were called through the law and the prophets. In the first place, then, the Lord was sent to the sheep of the house of Israel. [Mt. 15:24] The Lord was saying to all the Jews, Come, for all things are now ready, when He proclaimed the good tidings that the kingdom of heaven is at hand [Mt. 4:17], and among you [Lk. 17:21].

And they all with one accord began to make excuse, that is, as if at a signal. For all the leaders of the Jews refused to have Jesus as their King, and thus were found unworthy of the supper, one because of his love of wealth, and another because of his love of pleasure. The man who bought a piece of ground and the man who bought the five yoke of oxen signify those who love wealth, while the man who married a wife signifies those who love pleasure. Furthermore, the man who bought a piece of ground signifies the man who cannot accept the mystery of faith because he is governed by the wisdom of this world. The piece of ground represents the world and, in general, nature, and the man who must go and see his piece of ground is he who sees only nature, and cannot accept what is beyond nature. Therefore the Pharisee, for example, “sees his piece of ground,” that is, he looks only at the laws of nature and cannot accept that a Virgin gave birth to God, because that is beyond nature. Because they are examining this “piece of ground,” that is, nature, none of those who boast in external wisdom have recognized Jesus Who made nature new. The man who bought five yoke of oxen, and tested them, also represents a man who loves the material world. He has yoked the five senses of the soul to the five senses of the body and has made the soul into flesh. For this reason, he is concerned only with the earth and does not desire to commune of the rational Supper, for as Wisdom says, How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough? [Eccles. (Wis. of Sirach) 38:25] He who stays behind because of a wife is a lover of pleasure who has devoted himself to the flesh, the mate of the soul. By cleaving to the flesh, he cannot please God. You may also understand these things literally. We also fall away from God because of fields, because of yokes of oxen, because of marriages, when we become so attached to them that they consume our whole life and we are carried away even to the point of shedding blood over them. Then there is no divine thought or word that we can practice, or even comprehend.

21-24. So that servant came, and declared to his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were called shall taste of my supper. The rulers of the Jews were rejected, and not one of them believed in Christ. And they even boasted of their malice, saying, Have any of the rulers believed on Him? [Jn. 7:48] Therefore these students of the law and scribes, as the prophet says, became foolish and fell from grace. But the simple from among the Jews are likened to the halt, the blind, and the maimed. It is the foolish of this world, the lowly, who were called. For the multitude marvelled at the words of grace which proceeded from the mouth of Jesus, and they rejoiced in His teaching. But after these had come to Him from the sons of Israel, that is, from the chosen whom God foreordained for His glory, such as Peter, and the sons of Zebedee, and the tens of thousands of those Jews who believed, then God’s goodness was poured out also upon the Gentiles. For those who are in the highways and hedges mean the Gentiles. The Israelites were within the city, inasmuch as they had received the law giving and inherited a civil and moral way of life. But the Gentiles were strangers to the Covenants, and the lawgiving of Christ was foreign to them. They were not fellow citizens of the saints, and did not travel the one true path, but instead followed many highways of lawlessness and coarseness, and were to be found in the hedges, that is, in sins. For sin is a great hedge and middle wall which separates us from God. By highways He signifies the Gentiles’ coarse way of life, which led them to so many false beliefs. By hedges He signifies their life of sins. The master does not command his servant simply to call all those in the highways and hedges, but to compel them to come in, although each man is free whether to believe or not. But He uses the word compel to teach us that it is a sign of God’s great power that the Gentiles, who were in such ignorance, came to believe. If the power of the preaching and the might of the word of truth had not been so great, how could men who were crazed with idol worship and practiced unspeakable things have been persuaded all at once to know the true God, and to perfect a spiritual life? He called this “compulsion” to show the miraculousness of their change. One might say that the pagan Greeks did not want to leave their idols and their rich feasting, yet they were compelled to flee from them by the truth of the Gospel. Also, the power of the miracles He worked was a strong force that induced them to be converted to faith in Christ. Every day this Supper is prepared and we are all invited to the kingdom which God prepared for man even before the foundation of the world. But we are not worthy of this Supper—some of us because of useless philosophical musings, others because of love of material things, and yet others because of pleasures of the flesh. But God in His love for man freely bestows this kingdom upon other sinners, upon the blind who have no spiritual vision to perceive the will of God; or if they can perceive it, upon those who are crippled and unable to take a step to do the will of God. And in short He grants the kingdom of heaven to all the poor who have fallen away from the glory above, and even to the maimed who cannot show forth in themselves a blameless life. To invite these sinners to the Supper, who are wandering astray in the streets and broad avenues of sin, the Father sends His Son Who became a Servant according to the flesh, and Who came not to call the righteous, but sinners. All these He feasts liberally, instead of the clever, the rich, and those who indulge the flesh. By the judgments known to Him alone He sends diseases and dangers upon many, causing them, even against their will, to renounce this life. Thus, He leads them to His Supper, “compelling” them by means of the dangers. There are many examples of this. Understood in a simpler way, this parable also teaches us to show favor to the poor and the crippled rather than to the rich, just as He exhorted us to do a short while before. [Lk. 14:13-14] It is for this reason that He tells this parable, to confirm that we must give hospitality to the poor. And we may also learn from this that we should be so eager and generous in welcoming our brethren that, even when they are reluctant, we should compel them to partake of our good things. This is also good advice for teachers: teach what is necessary, even when the students are unwilling.