Saturday, June 18, 2016

Homily for The Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 2)

Luke 14:15-24; 1 John 3:13-18; Proverbs 9:1-10

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Lady Wisdom has built Her house. It is a palatial dwelling, even a temple, having seven pillars. For, indeed, Lady Wisdom is none other than the glorious presence of God dwelling amongst men, first in the Garden, later in the Tabernacle and in the Temple, and lastly and consummately, in the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Likewise, the seven pillars are the Holy Spirit of God in His seven-fold gifts – wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, holiness, and the fear of the Lord – through which He calls, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps in the true faith those who do not reject Him.
Wisdom has slaughtered Her beasts; She has mixed Her wine; She has also set Her table. And, now, “She has sent out Her young women to call from the highest places in the town, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ To him who lacks sense She says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and live, and walk in the way of insight’.” That is to say, “The feast is prepared. Come to the Lord’s Table.” For, everything is accomplished for you. It is finished. There is nothing to do but to come and to receive what Wisdom has prepared for you.
The invitation is offered to all. Let us not get hung up on the order or the ranking of the invitees – first to the A List, then to the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame, and then to the highways and the hedges, indeed, to all the world. In the end, there is no one who does not receive the Lord’s gracious invitation to His banquet. All are invited, unconditionally. The only way to miss out on the feast is to reject the Lord’s gracious invitation.
Sadly, many do just that; many reject the Lord’s gracious invitation. Concerns for this world and life cause them to make excuses. But, there is no excuse, for this is the Lord’s banquet, and He is the King of kings and Lord of lords; He is God, the Creator of all that is. You would not reject a personal invitation from your boss, let alone the President of the United States, but will you reject the invitation of the Lord and giver of your life? Nevertheless, you are free to do as you please. The ability to reject Him is God’s gift to you. If you will not come, that’s a real shame, for a place is reserved just for you, and at a premium, the shed blood of God’s Son. The invitation is extended to all. It’s as simple as that. But, those who reject the Lord’s gracious invitation will not taste of the banquet He has prepared for them. It’s as simple as that.
Yet, the Lord’s banquet hall will be filled. It will be filled by all those who do not reject the Lord’s gracious invitation, but who receive it in faith and who come and eat. They are the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame – literally, but also metaphorically – for, they are all those who are not so proud so as to reject an invitation, and they are those who have not so many fleshly and worldly distractions in their lives to get in between them and their Lord. Indeed, when Jesus taught that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, He was not passing judgment upon wealth and riches, or even upon those who possess them, but He was acknowledging how easy it is for those who have much to become slaves to their possessions, thus making them idols by permitting them to get in between themselves and the Lord. By definition, the poor, including those poor of body, mind, and spirit, have much less in the way of fleshly and worldly possessions to get between themselves and the Lord, and so it is easier for them to receive and to believe than it is for those more deeply enmeshed in worldly trappings.
Indeed, the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame are, in many ways, like children, whom Jesus repeatedly holds up as an example of faith. They are simple – not in the sense of being stupid or foolish – but they are simple in worldly ways, and they are open to instruction and learning, as they are not yet set in their ways. These simple ones are invited to receive insight, even wisdom and life. Jesus taught that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it”. It is not that those who are wise in worldly ways cannot enter the kingdom of God, but rather it is that they will not, for they make excuses, they refuse, or they consider God and His kingdom to be foolishness. They have not the fear of the Lord, which is to say that they are not in awe of God and they do not offer Him worship, they have no personal confidence in God or knowledge of His character, and their sense of morality is not rooted in obedience to His Law. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom because it is a return to a simple and childlike faith that is open and receptive to the Word of the Lord, His ways, and His Truth.
But, the Lord’s Wisdom stands in opposition to the wisdom of the flesh and the world. Thus, those who receive the invitation and do not reject it have passed out of death into life. Therefore, they are hated by the world. You must not be surprised by the world’s hatred of you, for so the world hated Jesus, your Teacher, who came before you. Likewise, He is your model, your guide, and your example that you may love others, even those who hate you, as Jesus loved all and died for all, that all might be forgiven and live. Scoffers will come. Show them love. They may turn in repentance, or they may hate you and persecute you – it matters not – for you have died to the flesh and to the world and you live to God, therefore you must love your brother and your neighbor as God so loved this world of sinners, sin, and death in His Son Jesus Christ. You children of Wisdom, called out of death to glorious and eternal life, give life to your brother and to your neighbor by loving him in deed and truth as God so loved you in Jesus.
For, the invitations are out, to the highways and the hedges, even to the ends of the earth, and the Lord is well past simply asking people to come, He’s now compelling them to come, so that only those who reject His gracious invitation will miss out on the banquet. Therefore, you who have received His gifts must share them, in love, with all, that they too will receive the Lord’s gracious invitation and live. And, to equip you for this mission of love, and to keep you in and to strengthen your faith, the Lord has provided you a foretaste of His heavenly banquet in this feast of the body and blood of His Son Jesus. The feast is prepared. Come to the Lord’s table.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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