24 February 2009

The Feast of St. Matthias, the Apostle

We cannot remember and rejoice in St. Matthias, the Apostle, without recalling and mourning Judas, that wretched Apostle whom he replaced.

Judas sought peace and rest, but found only despair. He ended his own life in a suicide of soul and body. He abandoned his vocation and office and went to his own place of death and destruction. It would have been better for that man had he never been born.

How is it with you? Are you weak and weary, weighed down and burdened? Why? It is because you are surrounded on all sides and always threatened by sin and death, within and without, and you are constantly tempted to look for life and love in all the wrong place.

There is no life and love, nor any peace and rest, until you rest in God, your Creator. Apart from the Lord, your own homestead and household are desolate; you will not abide in them for long.

But examine yourself honestly, and ask yourself: How do you flee despair? Where and how do you seek relief and satisfaction? Is it by your own wisdom, works and ingenuity? You'll not find rest that way, because you won't find God that way. It will not work for you to find "a place" for God in your life, but your life is found in Him alone.

So, for example, in the case of your vocations and your stations in life: these are not a means by which you are to achieve and obtain life for yourself, but the place where you are given to live the life that is yours by the grace of God.

But do you, then, go about your vocations and stations in life in faith and love, content with God and His gifts? Or do you strive to make a life for yourself, whether by the manipulation and misuse of your office, or by moving outside of your vocations in search of that which God has not given? What is it that you're chasing after with your life? Money or sex? Fame and fortune? Recreation, entertainment and personal pleasure? What is your personal tower of Babel?

You'll not find what you're looking for — you'll not find life and love, nor peace and rest — not apart from God. But you won't find God by any wisdom, reason, strength or intelligence of your own. You'll not find God at all, except as He reveals Himself and gives Himself to you.

How so? God has hidden Himself and His righteousness from the wise and intelligent, but He reveals and gives Himself to nursing babies and infants, and to those who are like little children by repentant faith. That is the good pleasure and gracious good will of God, that He makes Himself known in love, with life and salvation, to the One who is gentle and humble of heart.

Which is really to say that God and everything pertaining to Him are both hidden and revealed in Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, crucified and risen. He alone reveals the Father to you, by grace. He does it by His Word and in His own flesh. He does it by the means of His Gospel, wherein the Lord your God is both hidden and revealed — from His Baptism to His Cross and Resurrection, in your ears and in your mouth.

That is the point and purpose of the holy office which Judas abandoned and to which St. Matthias was called and ordained by the Lord.

Are you weak and weary, weighed down and burdened? Come to Jesus. Take His yoke upon you. Learn from Him the way of life and love.

Hear and heed the preaching of the Word of Christ. Listen to Him. That is the key. Avail yourself of the good gifts Christ freely gives by the Ministry of the Gospel. And follow Him, living in whatever place He has put you, doing whatever it is He gives you to do there.

What all of this means is received in and with the Cross of Christ. As He Himself was crucified; as St. Matthias and almost all of the holy Apostles were martyred; so are you put to death, in order to live.

But how, then, can Jesus call this "yoke" of His Cross a light and easy burden? What sort of "rest" is this?

It is peace and rest for your soul, even in adversity, and the resurrection of your body, too, at the last; because in His gentle humility, even unto death, He has reconciled you to the Father by His Cross. It is in His Resurrection and Ascension that He has established a place for you, a home and family in His Church (on earth as it is in heaven). Therein, He gives you His good gifts: Apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers, to serve you with the Gospel of His Cross, the forgiveness of your sins and peace in His Body.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

1 comment:

Rock said...

Thank you Fr. Stuckwisch!

Neely Owen