On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 37: RSVP Please

“For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour in the same was as him who has labored from the first. He accepts the deed, and commends the intention.” (from The Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom)

God does not compel anyone to love Him. God does not force anyone to obey Him. God has revealed an inexhaustible love toward humanity in His plan for our salvation. God has poured out the treasures of His wisdom, and has given to us the most precious gift of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whom we receive in the Holy Communion. God has done all that not to force us into responding, but to urge us, to appeal to us to respond.

If we should refuse such gifts, such urgings, such an appeal, if we fail to respond, we do so at the peril of the loss of our eternal soul to full and final separation from God. And when is that response to be made? It should, under all circumstances, be an immediate response. The invitation to respond is like Christ’s story of the householder who sent his servant out to invite guests to the householder’s great supper (Luke 14:15-24). The servant waited for the responses. They were immediate: “I have this to do.” “I have that to do.” “I have all of these things I need to get done. I can’t come.” The householder then sent his servant to bring anyone who would come to the great supper. And the hall was filled with people who responded immediately and positively. I wonder whatever happened to those who were too busy with their own things to accept the householder’s invitation? They no doubt went about their work-a-day lives without another thought of that invitation.

The householder is, of course, God. His servant is the Church. The invitation is to come and participate in that which will provide eternal life – the Great Supper. And those who were invited? They are, of course, you and me. How do we respond to God’s invitation? And how soon do we make that response.

On this the Greatest of the Feast Days of our Church, we hear once again the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom. This short sermon has echoed in the halls of the churches for 1100 years. And the point of the great Church Father’s sermon? God the Inviter will accept the response of those invited right up to the last minute. Those who were too busy; those who could not make up their minds; those who were distracted from decision-making – all those who changed their minds and showed up even at the eleventh hour, all those are still welcome. Just remember: we don’t know when the door will be shut. The day to respond is today. Christ is Risen!

 This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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