Do you wish to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ Jesus? And would you follow Him, in order to be with Him where He is, both now and forever?
Then you must be taught by Him and learn from Him.
Not only that, but your ongoing catechesis must focus your attention on who this Jesus is. And the big question will remain, at all times: What do you think of Him?
What do the people say? What is the public opinion of Jesus? Well, He’s a preacher of the Word of God, a preacher of repentance; and He’s another prophet, like John, and a baptizer.
And to be sure, He is all of these things, and more.
But the question is also put to you: Not only what you think, but who do you say that Jesus is? What do your words and actions confess concerning Him? What do you say about Jesus in your vocation as a Christian, in your own particular place in the world?
If your life says nothing at all about Jesus, then how shall your life be saved?
But what, then? Who is this Jesus?
He is the Christ, the Lord’s Anointed. So have you confessed, by the grace of God the Father, already in your Baptism. So, what will that mean for Him? And what does it mean for you?
Jesus, the Son of the living God, is anointed by the Spirit of His Father to be the Son of Man; wherefore He must suffer many things, and die, and rise again for you and your salvation. And if you are His disciple, and you are taught by Him to carry the cross and follow after Him, then you also suffer and die and rise again.
Jesus puts this to you plainly. Will you accept it and bear it? Will He be your Lord and your God? Or will you buck and resist His Word? And would you presume to rebuke Him for His Cross?
Repent. Get back in line behind Jesus, and follow Him.
Deny yourself, take up the Cross, and follow Christ. Do not set your heart and mind on your own interests, and do not walk according to the worldly wisdom of self-preservation. But give attention to the Word of God. Fear, love, and trust in Him.
Such is the work of the Cross in your body and life here on earth. It puts you to death, it crucifies and buries you with Christ, so that you may rise from the dead to newness of life and live forever in Him. That work begins and remains rooted in your Baptism, and it continues all your days.
Real life and the one true God are found, not where you are prone to look (that is, within yourself), but in Christ, crucified and risen; in His Word of the Gospel, the forgiveness of all your sins; and in His holy flesh and blood. This promise is for you and for your children.
Thus, not only must you be put to death to yourself, to your sin, and to the world, but so also your children must be crucified, put to death, and buried with Christ Jesus — if you would give them the salvation of their bodies and souls and the life everlasting.
Each of you is called to deny yourself, to take up the Cross, and to follow Jesus. But you parents, you fathers in particular, are called to catechize your children in this way of the Cross. That means teaching them the Word of Christ Jesus within your home and family, and bringing them to be taught within the household and family of the Church.
Fathers, teach your children the Bible and the Catechism, the Liturgy and the hymns of the Church. And teach them by your example, too, by exercising your faith in the way you love and serve them — and in the way you gently serve and care for their Mom.
Prioritize the Gospel of the Cross in the way that you order and arrange your own life and your family’s. Do not live for the acquisition of worldly goods, which perish, but let everything be bent toward the storing up of treasures in heaven, which are found only in Christ and His Gospel.
To live by faith in Him will put you and your children at odds with this adulterous and sinful generation. Indeed, it puts you at odds with yourself, with your own sinful heart and fallen flesh.
To live according to His Word, by faith, under His Cross, is difficult and painful. It is beyond your strength and seemingly impossible altogether — like the promise of God to ancient Abraham and barren Sarah, and like His covenant with them, which was finally fulfilled, against all odds, for them and for you and for all the nations, in the Cross of Christ.
The guarantee and certainty of this faith, by which you have peace, hope, love, and joy in the midst of tribulation, suffering, setbacks, and temporary disappointments, is that same Cross and Passion of Christ Himself, who is God in the flesh; and it is found in His bodily Resurrection from death and the grave to eternal life. For He has not failed, and your faith in Him shall not be disappointed.
It is because of this Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, that you are reconciled to God. Live and walk in Him, therefore, in the surety of what He has done, and in the way that He has gone. In Him alone is where your life is found, now and forever, and there is no life anywhere else.
Even now, you are in and with Christ Jesus, because He has first of all established Himself for you, and He has given Himself for you. So has He also given Himself to you, and established you in Himself. That is the gift and the good work that He has granted to you in the waters of your Holy Baptism. That is what He gives to you with His Body and His Blood in the Holy Communion.
Thus, it is in Christ that you now live before God, righteous and holy, at peace, and hopeful even in the face of death. So, too, your safety and security in Christ remain sure and certain, no matter how the world may hate you and hurt you, or despise and dismiss you, or ignore you as of no consequence. The Lord remains steadfast and faithful, no matter how your own frail heart may waver with doubt or quail in fear, as even the heart of father Abraham did at times.
God’s promises to Abraham have indeed been fully accomplished, also for you, in the holy Seed of father Abraham, that is, in the incarnate Son of God, Christ Jesus, conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is fruitful, and He multiplies His family throughout all the nations of the earth by the preaching of His Gospel.
No matter how many Christians ISIS may brutally burn or behead, they shall not be able to defeat or destroy those dear brothers and sisters, nor rob them of the life that is theirs in Christ Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross and thereby defeated death and the devil for us all.
And when you yourself are confronted with death, at whatever age, and by whatever means, you shall follow the Author and Perfecter of our faith through the dark valley and the very gates of Hades into His Resurrection and His Life everlasting.
You and all who are born again by the washing of water with the Word and Spirit of Christ Jesus, who believe in Him, are the true children of Abraham by grace through faith in the One who is both Abraham’s Son and Abraham’s Lord. So you are an heir of God’s promises to Abraham. Yes, and much more than that, you are a son of God in Christ, and He is counted as your righteousness.
So does God your Father in heaven give life to you and to your mortal flesh, to your body and your soul, by the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. And by the power of His indestructible life, so do you also live under His Cross and in His Resurrection from the dead. Yes, yes, it shall be so. For even though you die, yet shall you live, and you shall be with Him, where He is, even forevermore.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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