daily biblical sermons


Most are lost because their worldly interests drown out their interest in the Lord
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the 28th Sunday of the Year, October 11, 2020
Isaiah 25:6-10a, Psalm 22, Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20, Matthew 22:1-14


 

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“And again, Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again, he sent other servants, saying, “Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.” But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry and sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.” And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so, the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen’” (Matthew 22:1-14).

 

 

This parable is another presentation of salvation history, explaining why the Jews, who had been specially chosen by God to be prepared for their Messiah and the Savior of the world, were finally cast off by God and replaced by another people who would faithfully accept Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. In this parable a king prepares a great marriage feast for his son and invites all his friends. The king is God. His son is the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, and the king’s friends are the Jews, God’s chosen people.

 

 

This king sent out his servants to invite his friends to the wedding banquet for his son, but they weren’t interested and ignored the king’s servants and paid no attention to the invitation. These servants were the prophets and Jesus’ apostles, whom God sent to his chosen people. The king then sent other servants a second time to urge his friends to come to his banquet, saying, “My oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast” (Matthew 22:4). Again, the king’s friends “made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them” (Matthew 22:5-6).

 

 

This is an unimaginably brutal reaction of the king’s friends to their king’s invitation to a royal banquet for his son’s wedding. Not only do they refuse to come, but they actually kill the king’s servants who invited them. This represents the refusal of the Jews to enter the kingdom of God and to accept all the blessings that God wanted to give them through his Son.

 

 

Some of the king’s friends simply preferred their own work on their farm or business and so paid no attention to the invitation. But some were so brutal that they actually killed God’s messengers. The Jews killed some of their prophets, their king killed John the Baptist, the Jewish authorities instigated the death of the Son of God himself on a cross, and afterwards the apostles were persecuted by the Jews. To punish this brutal behavior, the king sent his army to kill all his friends who refused to come and burned their city. This is a prediction of what God would do about forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus in 70 A.D. The Romans under the general Titus would come and kill the Jews in Jerusalem and burn it to the ground. Jesus indicates that this was done at the command of God, namely that God used the Roman Imperial army to destroy Jerusalem and kill most of its population, because they refused his invitation to salvation in his Son and killed his messengers, the prophets and apostles.

 

 

And what did the wedding feast itself stand for? It was the offer of the Son of God himself  “to take us into union with Himself – to restore us to the family of God as dear children – to clothe us with His own righteousness – to give us a place in His kingdom, and to present us faultless before His Father’s throne at the last day” (JC Ryle, 1856). All this the Jews brutally rejected, killing the prophets and apostles and the Savior himself by instigating his death at the hands of the Romans.

 

 

Jesus condemns the Jews with this parable as “slighters, despisers of the spiritual banquet, out of love to their secular interests; they loved other things more than Christ and the blessings of his kingdom” (Joseph Benson, 1749-1821). This is what led them to persecute and even kill God’s messengers, namely their lack of interest in spiritual things, for secular interests and worldly concerns, which in themselves are good and innocent, had so overwhelmed their minds and hearts that they no longer saw any value in them and in God’s salvation and invitation to accept their Savior.

 

 

“Observe, reader, making light of Christ, and of the salvation wrought out by him, is the chief cause of the ruin of many professors of religion. Multitudes perish eternally through mere carelessness, who have not any direct aversion to, or enmity against spiritual things, but a prevailing indifference and unconcern about them … Here we have the reason why they made light of the marriage-feast: they had other things to mind, in which they took more delight, and which they thought it more concerned them to mind. Thus, it is still; the business and profit of worldly employments prove with many a great hindrance to their embracing the blessings of the gospel … Licitis perimus omnes, said the ancients. We all perish by lawful things, namely, when unlawfully used; when we are so careful and troubled about many things, as to neglect the one thing needful” (Joseph Benson, 1749-1821, emphasis in the text).

 

 

How true this is and how easy it is to get caught up in the love of worldly and earthly things, even good things, even necessary things that we must do, so that we become distracted from God and Christ and his salvation. Worldly things can divide our heart away from an undivided love of the Lord if we are not careful. Even necessary tasks that we must do can engross us and displace the love of God in our hearts if we are not careful.

 

 

We all need to eat, but we do not need to banquet every day. Banqueting at every meal is harmful to us spiritually (and physically), for it focuses us on unnecessary worldly satisfactions, gratifications, and pleasures that divide the love of our heart so that we no longer love God with an undivided heart.

 

 

We see here that one man went off to his farm and another to his business and they turn down an invitation of the king himself to a royal banquet in honor of his son. Human banquets can turn us away from God’s banquet for his Son. Human banquets can cause us to lose interest in spiritual banquets.

 

 

Instead of just taking in stride our necessary daily tasks, while keeping our focus, attention, and interest on the kingdom of God, we can unfortunately become so absorbed, fascinated, and captivated by the minor details of our necessary daily tasks that we try to arrange everything so that it will give us maximum worldly enjoyment, which will result in dividing our heart away from an undivided love of the Lord. So instead of grabbing a coat to keep warm, we get in a car and go around from store to store and try to find the finest fur or leather coat that we can possibly buy and so lose a great amount of time and concentration, and become scattered and distracted over something that we should just turn over to someone else to order for us and be finished with it.

 

 

This is why Jesus teaches us that we can only serve one master, the Lord, not also mammon, that is, worldly wealth and pleasure (Matthew 6:24). He also tells us that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). A rich man is surrounded by superfluous and unnecessary worldly delights and usually takes great interest in them and wants to arrange them to make sure that the right people do the right things for him in the right way to maximize his enjoyment and pleasure. This is how a rich man lives, and this is why it is so difficult for such a person to get into the kingdom of God.

 

 

This is also why Jesus tells us that the most important of all the commandments in the law is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). If you really love God with all your heart and soul, mind and strength, you will guard yourself against being captivated by other worldly delights lest the love of your heart be divided from God and rather focused on worldly things.

 

 

This is why Jesus tells us, “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). So, we should not be making plans and schemes, thinking and plotting how we might make things turn out in the most humanly and worldly pleasurable way for us. That necessary tasks get done is one thing, but that we enhance, embroider, and embellish them by all sorts of extra unnecessary delights is another thing, which is harmful to us.

 

 

In short, we should be dead to the world, crucified to the world and to worldly pleasures, instead of being worldly ourselves in our schemes, plots, and plans to make our life more exciting and enjoyable in a worldly sense. We should be able to say with St. Paul, “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

 

 

We shouldn’t be engrossed in worldly things, even if they are good in themselves, for they are harmful to the condition of our heart, since they divide it. Therefore St. John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him, for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). So, we should be on our guard lest we fall into worldliness and lose interest in the Lord.

 

 

 

“Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). So, we should take the difficult, not the easy way through life, for the easy way leads to destruction; for  the path of life is difficult, and few find it. Therefore, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

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