Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Bridal Feast

24 December 1989

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

How often have we heard todays a parable about those people who were called to the Bridal Feast of the King, and who refused to come. The one who had acquired a plot of land; he thought he was in possession of it; in reality, he was so attached to it that he could not detach himself from it: he was a prisoner of what he thought he possessed. And so it is with whatever we imagine we possess; it is enough for us to have the smallest thing in our hand and this hand is alienated to us; we cannot use it anymore, we cannot use our arm, our whole body is conditioned by what we possess, or imagine we possess: we are held a prisoner by it.

Others refused to come because they had bought five pairs of oxen: they had to try them, they had a task to fulfil, they had work to do, they had perhaps what they believed to be a mission in life, and therefore they had no time for anything except that that was their personal concern.

And the last refused to come because his heart was full of his own joy; having married, how could he be concerned with anyone elses marriage? He was full of his own joy how could he participate in anyone else's joy?

And so, they all turned away from the call.

Doesn't it apply very directly to us? Each of us possesses something that he deems so important that he is prepared to turn away from God yes, from God: there is no time for prayer, there is no time for worship. At the same time we turn away from other people who need us because we are busy with our own business?

And how often happens that we are full of joy or of sorrow but they are our own, we hug them to our heart, we have no time for anyone else's sorrow or anyone elses joy.

But then, what should we do? You hear every Sunday in the Liturgy words that say, Let us lay aside all the cares of this life; does it mean that we must turn away from the earth on which we live, from the tasks which are ours, from the joys and true sorrows that come our way? No!

But there is an answer to it perhaps in the lines that precede the reading from the Epistle which we heard today, where we are told: Are you risen with Christ? Are you where He is? Is your life hid in God with Christ? What does it really mean to us? It means that if we are dead with the death of Christ to everything which is destructive of love, destructive of compassion, which is self-centredness, which is self-love, which leaves no space for anyone but ourselves if we are dead to all this, and if we have accepted life on Christ's terms, ready to live for others, live for God, live for the joy and life of those who surround us then we are risen with Christ, and our life is indeed hid with Christ in God, it is at the very depth of God, at the very depth of divine love! And then we can turn to the earth; then, instead of possessing we can serve, instead of overpowering we can try to bring this earth of ours, in an act of love, in an act of reverence to be free, to be God's earth, to be able to bring fruit, not as it does being raped, being violently possessed by us, but giving us its fruit in an act of responsive love. And the same applies to our tasks; we are called to serve, we are called to make of all our life an act of concern, of love, of service then, all that we do becomes an act of God, then it becomes meaningful and it does not separate us from God.

And if joy has come into our heart, it is a gift of God; if sorrow has come into our heart, we can carry it to God, for it to be integrated in the mystery of salvation!

Let us reflect on this! Let us truly lay aside all the cares of this life in the sense that let us not be prisoners, but free: Christ has come to set us free. And then the earth, and our labour, and our joys, and our sorrows and everyone on earth will become part of the Kingdom of God. Then indeed, our life will be hid with Christ in God, but a God Who have chosen so to love the world as to be incarnate, to become man among men, to take upon Himself all the human destiny, createdness, life in a fallen world, the consequences of human sin, and even the loss of God which is what kills. And, having accepted it all in an act of saving and redempting love, He has risen, and anyone can enter into eternal life, the life of the resurrection by uniting himself or herself to Christ. Amen.



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