Quasimodo Geniti, the 1st Sunday after Easter + Job 19:25-27 + April 23, 2017

+ Quasimodo Geniti are the first two words of the Introit in Latin, "As Newborn babes." During the Easter season, just as in Advent and Lent, the Sunday's are named by the first words of the Latin Introits + 

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn # 196 I Am Content! My Jesus Liveth Still
Hymn # 331 Yea, as I Live, Jehovah Saith
Hymn # 195 Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands

AS NEW- || born | babes, | - *
Desire the pure milk | of | the | Word.
|| Hear, O My people, and I will ad- | mon-ish ∙ | you! *
O Israel, if you will lis- | ten | to | Me! (1 Peter 2:2a; Psalm 81:8)
|| Sing aloud to God our | strength; | - *
Make a joyful shout to the God | of | Ja- | cob.
|| You called in trouble, and I de- | liv-ered ∙ | you; *
I answered you in the secret place | of | thun- | der.
|| I am the Lord your | God, | - *
Who brought you out of the land | of | E- | gypt;
|| Open your mouth wide, and I will | fill | it. *
With honey from the rock I would have sat- | is- | fied | you. (Psalm 81:1, 7, 10, 16)
|| As newborn | babes, | - *
Desire the pure milk | of | the | Word.
|| Hear, O My people, and I will ad- | mon-ish ∙ | you! *
O Israel, if you will lis- | ten | to | Me! (1 Peter 2:2a; Psalm 81:8) 

Collect for Quasimodo Geniti, the 1st Sunday after Easter 
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who have celebrated the solemnities of the Lord’s Resurrection may, by the help of Thy grace, bring forth the fruits thereof in our life and conversation; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.  

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

1)         Dear saints of God, it is by faith alone that you are able to confess that Christ is risen from the grave. You have not seen Him alive, as the Apostles did in the upper room on Easter evening. You have not heard His voice. You haven’t handled His wounds. You believe in spite of the fact that you have not seen Jesus alive with your eyes or touched His wounds with your hands. You have believed the word of the Apostles who were eyewitnesses of the risen Christ. St. John begins his first epistle with the testimony that “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life --  the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness” (1 John 1:1-2). St. Paul reminds the Corinthians, who themselves had never seen the risen Christ, that Christ was “was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). These eyewitnesses testified in their own lifetimes and they testify to the resurrection of Christ still through their written word. Everything that was written was written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). You have no empirical evidence yet you believe because the Holy Ghost works through that word of the apostles, so that though you have not seen, you are blessed to believe. 

2)         Two examples confront us in today’s Scripture readings, that of Job and Thomas. Thomas is the example of unbelief. He is often called “Doubting Thomas” but that’s not accurate. Doubting is a mind that hobbles back and forth between two possibilities, the way someone would hobble from one crutch to the next. Thomas didn’t doubt, surmising that perhaps the word of the other apostles was true. Thomas sure certain that their word wasn’t true! When their eyewitness account of “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25) confronts Thomas, Thomas rejects that word he hears with his ears and instead relies on that which he can touch and feel. “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas fortifies himself against faith by demanding not only to see Jesus, but demanding to put his finger into the nail holes and to thrust his hand up into Christ’s side. “We have seen the Lord” is not enough for Thomas. He is much more than a, “I need to see to believe” skeptic. He needs to touch, handle, and examine the body of Christ and then he will believe. Like many in our age, Thomas seeks a sign, but not just any sign. He wants to examine Christ as you would a cadaver. He wants to observe Christ with his senses and only then will believe. He wants the physical proof of the flesh instead of the word of witnesses. 

3)         Opposed to unbelieving Thomas stands Job, or rather sits Job. Job doesn’t stand before us an example. He sits on the ground in a pile of ashes and is covered “with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7). The only way to alleviate the pain is to scrape at his boils with a sharp piece of broken pottery. Job is a picture of destitution and despair. The Lord had allowed Satan to strike Job. Satan didn’t think Job would remain faithful to God if God allowed bad things to happen to him. Satan thought Job only loved God and believed in Him because God gave Him good things. The Lord allows Satan to smite Job. First Satan takes away Job’s livestock, his livelihood, his servants and his children. When that doesn’t work the Adversary is allowed to touch Job in his body, though God does not allow Satan to take Job’s life. Job is not privy to the conversation between God and the Devil. When Job complains to God and asks the Lord why He is on the receiving end of such anguish and affliction, God does not answer. He doesn’t have to. His ways are not our ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts. “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). 

4)         The deepest cut in all Job’s afflictions is that God is silent through it all. Man can’t stand it when God is silent so three friends gather around Job to comfort him. Except these friends do more harm than good, for its never wise to speak where God has not spoken. His “friend” come to the conclusion that Job must have sinned a great sin if he’s take such a beating from the Lord. Their theology says that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. What Job needs, in their opinion, is to stop his whining, take his lumps, and repent of whatever deep, dark, secret sin he’s committed against God and then God will start treating him better. But that’s not how God works. “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). The Scripture teach that bad things happen to us because of sin and that God allows these to exercise our faith in Him so that our confidence in His Word is strengthened. Job is caught in the middle though. He defies his friend’s terrible theology but refuses to wait patiently upon the Lord. He wants answers but he knows he won’t get them.God is not in the habit of answering every complaint He receives. So Job laments in Job 9:32-33 that God “is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” He knows God won’t answer, that God is God so it is not necessary for Him to defend Himself to Job. Job laments this and that there is no mediator to go between him and God to make things right. 

5)         And although Job’s faith wavers in that He will not bear his affliction patiently, Job’s faith does not falter altogether. Job does not trust what he feels in his flesh. His flesh can only feel the ever-present burning pain of his boils. Job does not trust what his eyes see. His eyes could only see the graves of his children. Job does not even trust what he experiences in his soul. His soul could only feel the anguish of being afflicted and not knowing the reason that God has allowed such a thing. In spite of all this that sees with his eyes and experiences in his flesh, Job cries out in faith words which have become immortal: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27). In spite of the suffering he experiences in his body and his soul, Job believes that God is merciful so that there is a mediator, a go-between, a Redeemer. “I know that my Redeemer lives.” There is a redeemer, a mediator between God and man. Though he doesn’t seem Him now, “He shall stand at last on the earth.” Job’s Redeemer and Mediator will stand upon the earth to judge the case between God and Job. Job knows that even if his suffering must lead to death, he will still see His Redeemer and Mediator. “After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” Job is confident that even if he must wait until the resurrection of all flesh on the last day, He will be vindicated. He will be redeemed. His mediator will make peace between him and God. 

6)         Job’s Redeemer and Mediator is Christ Jesus. St. Paul tells Timothy, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Christ, the Redeemer, stands upon the earth and is lifted up on the cross to die as the ransom price for all mankind. Jesus of Nazareth, who is both God and Lord, is the Mediator between God and Man. He reconciles sinners to God by becoming sin itself and dying so that all who believe in Christ as their Mediator have reconciliation and peace with God. Christ is the Redeemer whom Job looked for, the one who would stand between God’s wrath and Man’s guilt and bridge the gap and bring the two parties back together. Christ Jesus is the Mediator and Redeemer whom Job yearned for by faith, for Christ’s innocent, bitter sufferings and death show us that no matter what we suffer and no matter our affliction God is not set against us. Christ’s atoning death shows us that no matter the pain of body and agony of soul we experience, God is not meting out wrath upon us for our sins, for “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This means that we “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4). Job’s affliction was not for his sins, but to exercise his God-given faith. Your afflictions serve the same purpose. 

7)         What Job confesses in the midst of his suffering, Thomas comes to confess as well, that his Redeemer lives, and that his redeemer and mediator is “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). Christ recalls Thomas from his unbelief by His word, “Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). And Thomas in this upper room is confronted with THE Word of God who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus steps in between Thomas and his unbelief and speaks the word which brings peace between God and man. He shows Thomas the wounds by which He has reconciled us to God the Father, the wounds by which He brought about our peace. You know that your Redeemer lives and you know that He has atoned for all your sins. You know this by faith, not by sight, for Christ has said to you “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Jesus calls you blessed and blessed you are; blessed with faith which justifies you and makes you righteous in God’s sight and blessed with faith that because of Christ’s death and resurrection you have peace with God. Amen.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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