Sunday of the Forefathers of ChristPosted: December 16, 2016
When Christmas is about two weeks away the Church commemorates the ancestors of Christ. On this Sunday Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and many other men and women are remembered and honored. All were flawed, but all proved, in the end, to be faithful. One by one their lives of faith in the flesh led to the birth of Christ who took flesh from their daughter, Mary. Here in their numbers we find a family. This lineage begins with Abraham and Sarah, expands into multitudes, and then is compressed to one young virgin from whom the One prophesied about takes flesh. From him we have another expansion into the multitudes of all who have faith in Jesus Christ. In our numbers we, too, are incorporated by adoption into this family of faith.
The gospel of the day reads,
But he said to him, “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 they all alike began to make excuses. The first to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; please, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 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.’” (Luke 14: 16
Christ, here, speaks of the Jewish nation that rejected him, and then of the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Banquet’s company.
In churches throughout the world, those who assembled to worship this day put away all excuses and came to the Banquet of the Eucharist which is a foretaste of the Banquet of the Kingdom which is yet to come. But in spite of the faithfulness of the day, we who assembled should not be overly confident. The inclusion into this day’s banquet is not to be seen as static. Rather, it is dynamic — each day may change our status.
Each day we are given invitations to increase in faith and to increase in Christ. Each day we are faced the choice to accept our invitations, or to excuse ourselves and turn to the world… “Sorry, Lord, but…” We forget who we are in Christ. We become distracted. We wander and excuse ourselves from the day’s opportunity.
St. Paul’s words from Colossians form the day’s epistle, and he informs us of our reality, but we must backtrack a few verses,
If then you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For your have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col 3: 1 – 4).
We have been raised with Christ by our baptism, we have died with Christ by our baptism. This union seats us NOW together with Christ in his ascended, resurrected existence. This is our reality and goes beyond our concurrent temporal realities. Both are true, but one takes precedent over the other — our “spiritual” reality holds greater weight than what our senses and surroundings tell us.
The apostle’s words in Colossians continue, “Therefore, put to death what is earthly in you…” (Col 3: 5). St. Paul continues, “In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away…” (Col 3: 7 – 8). How might we put such things to death? By neglect! It’s a great way to kill something. We have the power to chose to turn away, walk away, and find other activities, interests. It takes effort, but other activities can satisfy to the neglect and put to death passions, bad habits, and excuses. St. Paul offers the alternative: “Clothe yourselves…” in virtues of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience…” (Col 3: 12).
Be aware of who we are in Christ! Live awake with eyes wide open to live as God’s holy, purposeful priests who rejoice always, pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all things, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.