Redeeming the Time
An Orthodox Christian
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Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
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Redeeming the Time
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
Vol. 04.16

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.



┬┼Î═└▀  ¤└╠▀Ď▄! / MEMORY ETERNAL!









┬┼Î═└▀  ¤└╠▀Ď▄! / MEMORY ETERNAL!

Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco reposed in the Lord Saturday, 10/23 Sept 2000
Funeral Arrangements will be forthcoming.

Trapeza Time

In order to encourage people and facilitate cleaning up, we will attempt to have a definite time for trapeza. Trapeza will be from 12:00 noon, till 1:00 PM, after which, we are all encouraged to clean up together. Many hands make light labor!

Trapeza Teams

Jason Papadopoulous and Elizabeth Ash are reorganizing our trapeza teams to help balance the load. We need your help to make this work! Rather than have three small rotating teams as we have had in the past, we will have a weekly sign-up for the following week's trapeza. Please sign up as often as possible to help with the main dish, side dish, dessert or drinks. In this way, it is hoped that no one or two people are having to prepare a meal for 40, but rather that a generous handful of people can each bring a more "normal" amount, and share the job. Many hands make light work! Fr. Constantine has agreed to continue providing all the paper goods each week, as he has been for the past few years. Thank you in advance for your participation (and thank you, Jason and Elizabeth, for your initiative)! Please see Jason or Elizabeth with any questions or comments.

Exaltation of the Cross

This coming week:
Vigil Tue evening, Sept 13/26 at 6:00 PM
Divine Liturgy Wed morning at 6:00 AM

Thoughts on this Sunday's Gospel

This particular text may be found at:

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.1

Today is a day of great joy for us because of the baptism of Catherine. It's also the 14th Sunday after Pentecost and the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos and also the Sunday before the Elevation of the Holy Cross. Therefore we have three Gospel readings today which is so not ordinary. Usually we have only two or even only one. Now these readings are linked together by a thread. The reading for the Cross is that famous verse we hear "For God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Now what is this eternal life? It is described a little bit more in a veiled way in the reading for the Theotokos. This is the typical reading that we read for the Mother of God and it's sort of a play on words because Mary, the sister of Martha was not the Theotokos, but shared the same name. And so there is this passage where Mary and Martha are with Jesus and there is a meal being served and Martha is cumbered about with serving but Mary sits at his feet and has chosen the better part. And then the Gospel goes a few more verses, thirty or so: "And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked."2
And Christ says, "...Yes indeed, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."3 This is something else to describe eternal life because when we learn of Christ, we must live according to what we learn and then we will have blessedness. 'Blessed' can be translated 'happy'. The word, "makari", just means happiness. But it is the fullness of happiness only Christ can give.

Now, He describes the happiness He wants to give in a parable about a wedding. Think about what a wedding brings to mind. It is the union of two, to live together, and care for one-another for the rest of their days. There is great happiness, great love, great festivity, great expectations, fatlings killed, and oxen on the table. All partake of a rich and bountiful feast, because two families are so happy and the wedding of their daughter and their son. The marriage is an image of the salvation that God wants to give us and much, much more so. It is a mystery, St. Paul says, we can't even understand. But marriage is used to hint at what our salvation will be at the joy of knowing our Lord. But there are four things that people did in this parable that cast them out from the kingdom. Some were cast out in a way that was very obvious to them and others just lived a life of purposelessness and they died. Let us see about how these people lived and see what is the proper way to live. It is all laid out for us in this parable.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come."4

These people are much like those that are by the wayside.5 The seed is scattered over the wayside but the ground is ground down by the pounding of hooves and of feet and of wagon wheels and the seed cannot take any root at all and it is swept away by the birds and eaten by the birds and the fowls of the air. These are the same people. They don't care. They will not come. They're indifferent. They would answer the kings servants: 'I care nothing whatsoever.' They're not going to abuse the prophets that came to bring the news of our Savior, but instead, they ignore them. These servants that called to the wedding feast are none other than the prophets. And I tell you even now, the apostles today, the same servants, are calling to the wedding feast. Most people don't listen and do not want to hear much about the Gospel, which tells us in exactitude HOW we should live, because it never really touches their soul, which is too full with worldly cares to contain anything else.

Now, He sent forth His servants to call them that were bidden. Did you notice there were two callings there? It's important to understand the nuances of the Scriptures. We're called through everything, God has proclaimed through His prophets, through His apostles, through the teachings of the Church, we're called through all of these things, all of these manifestations of Divine Truth. And we are bidden by our conscience because our conscience calls us again and again and again. Not just being twice called nor thrice, but more than seventy times seventy6 called. Every moment God is speaking to our conscience to call us. So He says to His servants, "Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise"7

There are the people that are choked by the cares of the world. They have some interest perhaps, in the God-man Jesus Christ, but not enough to stay away from their farms, that is, their body, or put another way, all forms of carnality. These are of course lusts of the flesh, but also all desires of experiencing the pleasures of this life, without giving a thought to the One who has made all things possible. Be careful now! Many of these types of people call themselves Orthodox Christians and even attend church! Guard yourself, O Christian, to see if you are merely a hearer of the word, or also a doer!

So then He sends more servants and a remnant of His servants are killed and indeed, the prophets were killed by the Jews. And even today, I tell you, there have been apostles, that is, bishops, that have been killed, and deacons, and priests and confessors of all kinds that have been killed for their faith. And they were spitefully treated and killed. So the King sent forth His army and He uprooted these people and slew them all. All three of these people did not inherit the kingdom, some because they didn't even care, some because they cared more for their own pleasures, their own ego, their own acquisitions, their own greed, and others were actually evil in a vicious and active way, and killed the prophets.

So the King wishes to have His feast hall filled. So He says to His servants, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage."8 'Go out into the highways, search out, find anyone and compel them to come in9, compel them because of My great love for them. I am going to show them who I Am.' And the person who listens will be compelled to follow the Gospel. It is a compelling from within, brothers and sisters, from within our own soul.

The man who will be saved has this compelling from within. Those who are not to be saved wear Christianity as an outward thing. They tell themselves, and even tell God, "I will get to working on this sin eventually", or "I will start getting to church on time someday", or "I will even begin to attend all the holy services regularly", all the while making foolish excuses for themselves. They fool themselves saying " I have so much trouble with this, and trouble with that, and God will understand why I cannot give the rules of piety my full attention". You must search in your heart if you have excuses like this. Are you being compelled from within? If so, this compelling will obliterate flimsy excuses. Or is Christianity sort of an intellectual exercise to you?

So the good and the bad were brought into the kingdom. The good and the bad were brought into the wedding hall. But each person, according to the eastern custom, had a wedding garment put on them, clean and fresh wedding garments. The good and the bad are baptized into the Church and all are given a wedding garment. Now, the king comes to review his guests, and he sees a man without a garment, wearing only his regular street clothes. This man had to come in, and put on a garment, so he obviously wore it for some period of time. Then he went into some corner somewhere, behind some plant perhaps, and took off the wedding garment, discarding it, and still went back to the wedding feast to partake of all the good things the king had prepared, which are for the elect. Well, our Lord would not have that, and He went to that servant and asked him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless."10
This is the fourth way we lose our soul, by taking the good things God has given us and not living according to what they are, and not changing.

It is our obligation, I tell you, to live according to who Christ is. Knowledge of Christ does not save a man. Acting upon knowledge of Christ saves a man. The devil knows about Christ and hates Him and fears Him. You must live according to what you have been taught. You must change. And it is a beautiful thing to change. It is a blessed thing to change. It is the purpose of our life- to change and to become like Christ. It is a privilege to do so, to put on the wedding garment, and to go into the wedding hall and to partake of all the things that we do not deserve in any way, but God gives to us because of His great love. So we must react to this love. This is the meaning to this parable. It has other meanings as well. It certainly was an admonition to the Jews, just as the previous parable we discussed from last week was.11 It is the same kind of thing. But the real inner meaning that we must understand, and that Christ was trying to put across to His hearers and to all of us is that we must live according to who God is.

Now I know most of you, and I say with certainly, that you are not the ground by the wayside, because I know you, as my spiritual children, and I know that you have a desire to save your souls. So you are passed that first tier. Don't let worldly cares choke you and don't let desires of the flesh choke you. Don't let things that are outside of God's will drag you down. Don't exchange your wedding garment for street clothes. Live according to who God is. This is the desire God has for you.

May God help you to fully realize the wedding feast and to keep your wedding garment unsullied and unspoiled. Amen.

Ten Questions about the Parable of the Wedding Feast


The Parable of the Great supper appears in Matthew 22:1-14 and is read on the 14th Sunday after Pentecost.

Summarize the parable in a few words.
What was the immediate purpose for the telling of this parable? Consider to whom it was told, and it's proximity to other events and parables in the Gospel narrative.
What other parable served the same immediate purpose?
Which parable was more "condemning"? Why?

Note: A similar parable, in Luke 14:16-24 describes a different event and was told for a different purpose.


This parable is filled with much symbolism, as in all parables. Let us examine some of the symbols, and construct a "glossary", to help us glean the deeper meaning.

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son ..." Matt 22:2

Who is the "King"?
Who is the son?
Who is the bride?
What is the "marriage" (what does it represent)?


"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, {3} And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come." Matt 22:2-3)

Who are these first servants?
How did the servants accomplish their task?
There are two "callings" mentioned, "to call them that were bidden." What are these two callings?


"Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. {5} But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: {6} And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them." Matt 22:4-6)

Who are the other servants? (Don't try too hard to come up with something different on this one!)
Who are the remnant, that "took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them"
What is the meaning of the one who went "to his farm"? This is an indication of a particular kind of sinful passion.
What is the meaning of the one who went "to his merchandise"?


"But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. {8} Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy." (Matt 22:7-8)

What does Jesus prophesy here?


"Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. {10} So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests." Matt 22:9-10)

This is another prophesy? Of what?
What do the highways represent?
It was said that there were "both bad and good" in the festal hall.

What is the meaning?
How, and when will the "good" be discerned from the "bad".
There is another parable which very dramatically illustrates this truth. What is it?


"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment ..." (Matt 22:11)

In order to understand what subsequently transpires, we must know of the custom of the "wedding garment", in the culture to which Jesus was speaking. Explain this custom, and it's spiritual application.


"And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless." (Matt 22:12)

What does the King's interrogation represent?
Why did the King require the servant to be wearing a wedding garment?
Why was the servant speechless?


"Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 22:13)

Who are the servant the king orders?
Why was the servant bound hand and foot? This represents and important fact, which will help us only in this life, if we learn it, and live like we know it
Tell what the gnashing of teeth represents.


"For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matt 22:14)

A strange saying. What does it mean?

An Explanation of the Parable of the Wedding Feast

The wedding or marriage feast, where there is always much light, joy and merriment in the presence of the groom and bride, has of old been a symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Old Testament Israel already knew this symbol from the works of King Solomon (see The Proverbs of Solomon, 9:1ş6).
The Pharisees constantly said that the Jews are God's chosen people and that the coming Kingdom of God is intended only for them. The people got so used to this prejudice that it was offensive to them to hear in the parable of the workers in the vineyard words from the Savior threatening to them: The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (Matthew 21:43). The Lord, the Knower of hearts, of course, knew of His audience's confusion, and in the new parable of those called to the marriage feast He explains to them what is needed in order to become a genuinely chosen man.
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding. The guests had been invited earlier; they already knew that king would have a wedding feast at a certain time, and that it would be given to them to know when it would be ready. But those that were called treated the royal invitation indifferently and did not want to come. The king goodşheartedly excused the guests, who perhaps had delayed on account of some misunderstanding. Desiring, in his goodness, that those that were invited not miss the chance to enjoy a festival, he sent the servants once more to call them to the feast. However, those that were called likewise treated the second invitation coldly and disdainfully. Mercenary, purely worldly calculations were dearer to them than the honor of being among the guests at the marriage feast of the king's son. As if that were not enough ş amidst those that were called were also found such who acted completely appallingly: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. By offending the royal messengers, the subjects inflicted the greatest insult on the king himself. The high dignity of the king and the important reason for the celebration magnified the weight of the offenders' guilt. The most kind king could not endure this and blazed with righteous anger, and he decided at once to punish the guilty: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
Meanwhile, the time of the feast arrived, and the king did not want his joy to remain unshared with his subjects. He ordered his servants to invite to the marriage everyone whom they would meet, without distinction as to their calling and condition. The royal servants began to call everyone, both the worthy and the unworthy, leaving it to the king himself to decide whom to seat at the royal table and whom to remove from the banquet. And quickly the festive table was occupied by guests. Everything was ready.
Then the king came out to the banqueters in order to gladden them by his presence; but he saw something that upset him intensely: he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. One must know the eastern customs in order to understand why the king was upset at the sight of this man, and why he cast him out of the marriage feast. The fact is, that if those that were called to a feast did not have their own festive garments, they received garments at the entrance from the steward of the house. Anyone who refused to receive such a garment upon arrival expressed thereby disdain and even contempt for the master of the house, as if saying: "I shall eat and drink with thee, but I want nothing to do with thee."
The king asked the man which had not on a wedding garment: ...Friend, how camest thou in hither...? He was silent ş that is, he had no justification whatever; he had a full opportunity to have this garment, but disdained this. This silence told of the depravity of his heart, and he himself passed sentence on himself. He was expelled forever from the royal feast.
The Lord concluded His parable with the words: ...many are called, but few are chosen. Not only those who did not come at all to the wedding feast belong to the number of these called, but not chosen, but also many of those who came to the feast, but did not want to be clothed in a wedding garment.
The parable of the marriage feast, which was addressed to the chief priests and the Pharisees, relates, of course, not only to Christ's immediate audience, His contemporaries, but also to all the historical leaders of the Hebrew people, who always insulted and killed the prophets, the "servants of God" that were sent to them. The words about the "burning of the city" and the "destruction of the murderers" of the prophets is nothing other than the Savior's first foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem and the ruin of the ancient Israel because it "did not know the time its visitation". But the Pharisees did not understand this prophecy.
In the parable of the evil vinedressers, the Lord indicated in only a covered manner that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from the Jews "and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." In the parable of the marriage feast, it is said more clearly that the time will come when the baptized pagans will enter into His kingdom. The call of the Word of God was addressed to all mankind. All peoples were called to the wedding feast.
Modern Christians resemble in many ways those who refused to come to the feast and him who came to the feast in inappropriate clothing.
The Divine Liturgy is a feast constantly being performed in the world, to which the Lord invites us with love. What then hinders us from accepting the divine invitation to participate in the Holy Eucharist? Is it not most often those same cares which in the parable prompted those that were invited to refuse to come to the feast? Not infrequently we cover up this preoccupation by citing our unpreparedness. But is not this unpreparedness most often the result of undue preoccupation? Do we remember what awaits those who renounced their participation in this marriage feast?
"With fear of God, with faith and love draw near!" "Taste and see that the Lord is good".
But even if we respond and go into the feast, all the same, one more danger lies in wait for us. We might prove to be not in a wedding garment...
"I see Thy bridal chamber adorned, O my Savior, and I have no garment that I may enter there" (Exapostilarion for Great Monday). One must fear, but one needs also to enter. Just what is this nonşwedding garment? This is, of course, the garment of the soul, the spiritual condition.
He who comes in a nonşwedding garment is he who only outwardly accepts all that the Lord and His Church teach and considers himself already justified by works of outward piety. Most likely it is those whom we now call Pharisees, hypocrites or ritualists. Such people even look at the very Mysteries as magical means. These are legalists who do not have a genuine inner life.
Their lot is terrible, and it is selfşevident that each of us is inclined to go by this easy, wide path of fulfilling only outward rules. We must struggle with all this, but not lose heart; we must repent, but also be bold, for "a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise" (Psalm 50).
"Live in such a way", teaches Hierarch Theophanes the Recluse, "that the God of love will love thee with eternal love. Go forth to thy commerce, but watch, so as not to sell thy soul to the world through the acquisition of worldly goods. Go forth to thy fields, fertilize thy land and sow seed in it, so that with its fruits thou mayest strengthen thy body; but especially sow in the field the fruits of eternal life. Preserve the garment received in Holy Baptism pure and spotless until the end of thy life, that thou mayest be a worthy partaker of the heavenly bridal chamber, wherein only those enter who have a pure garment and burning lamps in their hands.
Priest V. Potapov , Parish Life, September, 1995

Answers to Ten Questions about the Parable of the Wedding Feast


The parable of the wedding Feast was told to many of the Jews who were plotting to kill Jesus. His purpose was to show them that they were without excuse for their rejection of Christ, and foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, just as the parable of the evil husbandmen (which is read on the preceding Sunday, the 13th after Pentecost).

In the parable, a "certain king" who made a great supper in celebration of the marriage of his son, and invited many to come. He sent out servants to extend the invitation, but they were rejected. He then sent out more servants, and these were also rejected with lame excuses, and some of the invitees even went so far as to beat and kill the man's servants. This angered the king, and he sent forth his armies to destroy the ungrateful and evil invitees. He then sent out more servants, telling them to go out into the highways, and bid as many as they found to come to the wedding feast. The wedding hall was filled with guests, "both good and bad". During the feast the king went out about his guests and found a man who was not wearing his wedding garment, and questioned him about it. The man was speechless and without excuse, and the king ordered that this disobedient man be cast out of the wedding hall, and bound. At the end of the parable, Jesus gives the warning: "For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14)

The parable of the Great Supper heaps even greater condemnation upon the Jews who were soon to crucify their Messiah, because it details the rejection of a wedding feast by the King's servants, which is a gift given totally gratis, whereas in the parable of the evil husbandmen, their rejection of their master came after he asked of them some fruits of his vineyard, which He had provided for them, with the expectation that they would work in it. Since the parable of the wedding feast follows the other parable, it serves to amplify and make even more clear the great crime of the Jews, and indeed, all those who reject the God-man Jesus Christ.


In the parable, the King is God, and the Son is Jesus Christ. The marriage is an allusion to the joy that is possible for those who are the bride of Christ, that is, the church. All those who love Christ, and live in the light of His commandments are joined to Him, in His body, as a bride and bridegroom are joined in marriage.

"And wherefore is it called a marriage? One may say. That thou mightest learn God's tender care, His yearning towards us, the cheerfulness of the state of things, that there is nothing sorrowful there, nor sad, but all things are full of spiritual joy: Therefore also John calls Him a bridegroom, therefore Paul again saith, "For I have espoused you to one husband;" and, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."" (St John Chrysostom)


The servants are the holy prophets, who proclaimed the coming of Christ by their words and deeds.

"And when were they bidden? By all the prophets; by John again; for unto Christ he would pass all on, saying, "He must increase, I must decrease;"7 by the Son Himself again, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you;" and again, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."9 But not by words only, but also by actions did He bid them, after His ascension by Peter, and those with him. "For He that wrought effectually in Peter," it is said, "to the apostleship of the circumcision, was mighty also in me towards the Gentiles."

The two callings darkly mention a deep mystery - how God is revealed to the human soul. Our salvation is corporate, and it is personal. Truly the breath of the Holy Spirit enlightens a man, but this does not happen to him in isolation, as he must also be part of a body, that is the church, and respond to it's faithful teaching.

"If they were already invited, why are they going to invite them again? Learn, then, that each of us by nature has been called towards the good, for we are being called by the word of the innate teacher within us. But God also sends us external teachers, to call us from without, we who were first called by the word in our nature." (Bl. Theophylact, Commentary on Matt 22:1-7)


The second set of servants also represents the prophets. God sent many prophets to His people, and from Moses to Zachariah, through john the Baptizer, their message was not heard and obeyed, and some of the prophets were even persecuted and killed. Our Lord in another place confirms this and accuses the Jews: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! {38} Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. " (Mat 23:37-38)

The one who "went to his farm" denotes those who are turned towards a life of pleasure and carnality - in this case the field represents the flesh, that is, the body. Many fools choose the pleasures of the flesh above the invitation of God to become holy.

The one who went to his merchandise represents sins of acquisitiveness, and worldliness. Certainly, many who call themselves Christians, and yet keep their pocketbooks tightly closed, and give not their tithe to God, are guilty of this sin!


Jesus prophesies the razing razing of Jerusalem with these terrible words:
"By His armies we understand the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judea, laid in ashes the faithless city." (St. Jerome)

The attentive Christina will also recognize in these words the foretelling of the state of the soul and body that rejects the mercy of God, and follows it's own path of sensual cares and worldly life.


The parable of the Wedding Feast not only condemns the Jews who would reject Christ, but is also prophecies the coming on of the Gentiles. Highways lead away from the city, the heavenly Jerusalem. Unclean things were kept outside the city walls, and the Gentiles were also considered unclean. Highways twist and turn, and lead to many places, and this signifies the many and varied errors of the Gentiles, who knew not the true God. The kings servants brought good and bad into the festal hall, and the church has always been filled with good and bad. In the last day, the good will be distinguished from the bad, as tares from the wheat (which the Lord also spoke of in a parable). The good will be known by how much they became like Christ - how much they lived in the light of the gospel.


"... if those that were called to a feast did not have their own festive garments, they received garments at the entrance from the steward of the house. Anyone who refused to receive such a garment upon arrival expressed thereby disdain and even contempt for the master of the house, as if saying: "I shall eat and drink with thee, but I want nothing to do with thee." (Fr Victor Patapov,


The King passing among his guests represents the last judgment. We are admitted to the feast, that is baptized and brought into the church, at no cost, but we are given a "wedding garment" and charged to keep it clean. We sing in the baptism service: "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." Our Lord is good and pure, and we must desire to become like Him, and learn of Him, that is, to "put on Christ". This is what constitutes the wearing of a wedding garment. It is a life of repentance, and desire, and acceptance of God's mercy. At the last judgment, we will be examined - have we lived in the light we have been given? If we have not struggled to keep clean the wedding garment we have been given, all of our ingratitude and false way of living will be manifestly exposed, and there will be no opportunity for excuses.

"And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account? Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace,
yet, when called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is of the diligence of them that are called." (St John Chrysostom)

"Wherefore also great is the punishment appointed for them that have been remiss. For as they did despite by not coming, so also thou by thus
sitting down with a corrupt life. For to come in with filthy garments is this namely, to depart hence having one's life impure; wherefore also he was
speechless." (St John Chrysostom)

"The Dread Judgment knows no witness or court records. Everything is inscribed in the souls of men, and these inscriptions, these "books," will be opened. Everything will become clear to all and to oneself; the state of a person's soul sends him to the right or the left. Some will go to the place of rejoicing, others to the place of horror. When the books will be opened it will become clear to all that the root of all transgressions is in a man's soul. Consider a drunkard or a fornicator: when the body dies, some think the sin, too, has died. No; the inclination to sin was in the soul, and to the soul the sin was sweet. And if the soul has not repented of this sin, has not freed itself of it, it will come to the Dread Judgment with the same desire for the sweetness of sin and will never sate this desire. There will be the suffering of hatred and wrath in this soul. This is the state of hell. "The fiery Gehenna" - this is the inner fire, the fire of weakness and anger, and here will be the wailing and gnashing of teeth of powerless wrath." (Saint John (Maximovitch), Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, The Sunday of the Last Judgment, 1956. From Orthodox Life, Vol.2, 1985)


The angels will be Gods' servants in the last judgement:

"... in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn... {39} ... the reapers are the angels. {40} As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. {41} The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; {42} And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
(Mat 13:30, 39-42)

The binding of the unworthy servant indicates the "binding" of the soul's powers of action. "for in this present age is the time to act and do, but in the age to come all of the soul's powers of action are bound, and a man cannot then do any good thing to outweigh his sins" (Bl Theophylact, Commentary on Matt 22:11-14)

"The gnashing of the teeth is the meaningless repentance that will then take place" (Ibid.)


Our Lord's saying was partly directed towards the Jews, who were overly confident of their special position before God. They did not understand the meaning of this rebuke. God calls all, but chooses few, because few answer the call.

" For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. {15} For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. {16} The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: {17} And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Rom 8:14-17)

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions (c) 1999 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved
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1 The following sermon was transcribed from one given Sept 8/21 1997, the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, and also the day of the commemoration of the Nativity of the Theotokos, and the Sunday before the Elevation of the Holy Cross.

2 (Luke 11:27)
3 Luke 11:28, translation corrected
4 Mat 22:2-3
5 Cf. Mat 13:4
6 (Mat 18:21-22) Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? {22} Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. The number designates an infinite amount of times

7 Mat 22:4-5
8 Mat 22:8-9
9 (Luke 14:23) 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.

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Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland
Snail Mail: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA