Posts

Showing posts from March, 2019

Laetare, the 4th Sunday in Lent + Galatians 4:21-31

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The prophet tells us to rejoice. “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her” (Is. 66:10). In our day many Christians would interpret this to mean that we should rejoice in the modern nation-state of Israel. While there’s nothing wrong with having them as our ally, the New Testament is clear that Christ’s holy church is His true Israel. The prophet would never tell us to rejoice over unbelievers who reject His only-begotten Son and seek their salvation in themselves, their works, or their genealogy.
This is what St. Paul writes about in today’s epistle lesson. Abraham had two sons by two different women. Each woman corresponds to a different covenant. The sons born to each woman correspond to a different type of people. “For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bon…

Wednesday after Oculi + 1 Peter 3:1-22

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I think it’s self-evident, to Christians at least, that our day is very similar to the patriarch Noah’s day. Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We live in an age in which everyone does what is right in their own eyes. They’ve cast off the true God, their Creator, and His will in order to be their own gods, living according the desires and imaginations of their hearts. In the days of Noah the Lord put a time limit on mankind’s wickedness of one hundred and twenty years. That’s how long they had to repent or they would face destruction. Noah, the “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) proclaimed this to the unbelieving world while building his ark as the Lord had commanded him. His preaching only hardened them all the more. They rejected repentance. They de…

Oculi, the 3rd Sunday in Lent + Luke 18:14-28

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Jesus assumed human flesh so that He could destroy the works of the devil. In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus is helping one such poor demoniac when the devil strikes again with his lies. Some of those who witness Jesus casting out this demon claim that Christ is in league with the devil! They ascribe the works of God to the devil. That which God calls good in His Word, the devil calls evil. That which God calls evil in His Word, the devil suggests is good. So these men who are in league with Satan by their unbelief engage in this terrible blasphemy. But the claim is absurd. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan is also divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” Satan cannot work against Satan. It would be counterproductive and destructive to the growth of his kingdom. These men suggest that Jesus’ work is nothing but devilish page…

Wednesday after Reminiscere + 1 Peter 2:1-25

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
In chapter 1, St. Peter taught us that we live in the world but we are not of it. We are elect foreigners, refugees of the heavenly country because we have been “born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1:23). At the beginning of chapter 2 Peter continues this initial thought. “Desires the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (2:2). Peter isn’t making a distinction between “infant” Christians and mature Christians. St. Paul makes than comparison in 1 Corinthians 3. He tells the Corinthians that he initially fed them with milk, not solid food, but he had expected them to have been weaned off milk and eating solid food, though they weren’t. That’s not what Peter is doing here. Peter writes to all Christians to tell them that they should be like newborn babes. As newborn babes desire the…

Reminiscere, the 2nd Sunday in Lent + Matthew 15:21-28

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The Lord does not always answer our prayers immediately. Too often we fall prey to the notion that God should give us what we want and that He should give it to us right now. That makes sense though. This is how we go through so much of life. Look at children. “Mommy, I want this.” And if Mommy doesn’t meet that need at that very moment, then there are tantrums and tears. You certainly can’t reason with a child and ask, “Have I ever let you starve before?” because children don’t think like that. They only feel what they don’t have at that moment. Adults are no better. When we want something we want it now. If we don’t get it we nag, or become sullen and grumpy. Adults have the same notion as children, adults are just better at hiding it. The child and the adult want instant gratification. Both want their needs, or wants in most cases, met immediately and too often approach God in prayer with this same attitude. “G…

Wednesday after Invocavit + 1 Peter 1:1-25

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
St. Peter writes to “the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1) to encourage them to live their lives as what they truly are. What are they? They are pilgrims, but perhaps the word ‘refugees’ strikes a more familiar tone in our ears. These refugees haven’t cross a border. They’re not living in a nation not their own. They are Christians, scattered across the provinces in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. They are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” (1:2) meaning that God has chosen them from eternity for salvation. They are sanctified in the Spirit, that is, they have been given faith to believe the gospel. They have been set apart “for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” (1:2) which means they obey, or hear, the gospel. By faith they are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus and cleansed from all their sins. They are God’s elect, His…

Invocavit, the 1st Sunday in Lent + Matthew 4:1-11

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It’s hard to imagine anything more audacious than this. God the Son becomes a flesh and blood man, like us in every way except He is without sin, and the devil has no problem setting his sights on Him. The tempter waits until Jesus has fasted forty days. The devil knows the weakness of the flesh, especially when the flesh is hungry. This audacity didn’t end when Jesus sent the devil away, either. This was just the opening skirmish. St. Luke writes “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). Defeated for the moment, the devil never sleeps. He tempted Christ throughout the days of humiliation. After the first time Jesus teaches His disciples about His suffering, death, and resurrection, Peter rebukes Jesus. “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you!” Peter exclaims (Matt. 16…

Ash Wednesday + Joel 2:12-19 + Matthew 6:16-21

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Today the Lenten Fast begins. The practice of fasting during Lent is an ancient church tradition. Originally Christians fasted on the day before Easter. Then it was lengthened to Thursday, then to the Sunday before Easter. Eventually the Lenten Fast was lengthened to forty days to mirror our Lord’s time of fasting in the wilderness. The early church used fasting as a means of bodily preparation for the yearly celebration of the resurrection of our Lord. Fasting was an exercise is self-denial, repentance, and sorrow over one’s sins. But it’s important to note that Jesus never commanded fasting. He didn’t mandate that His disciples fast. Nor did He determine how one ought to fast or for how long one ought to fast. The only thing He taught about fasting was that when His disciples do it, they should maintain the proper inner disposition. He says, “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad coun…