26 September 2009

Salted by the Cross and at Peace in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus

In what does your life consist? What does it mean for you to live?
Not by your own works, nor in the wealth and wisdom of the world, but it is by the Name of the Lord that you live, as His child, by His grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Name of Christ has been granted to you in your Holy Baptism. That is your strength and your salvation. For you are thus anointed by the Holy Spirit for faith and life with God, who is now your own dear Father in Christ Jesus, the beloved Son.
So what does this mean for you?
You are salted by the Holy Spirit through the Word; which is to say that you are disciplined unto daily repentance by the Cross, which crucifies you to the world and to your sin.
But so are you "seasoned" (inside and out) with peace and love, and you are granted new life, through the forgiveness of all your sins in the Resurrection of Christ.
So, then, how do you deal with yourself?

And how shall you deal with your neighbor?
There is a sound of violence in the Word of Jesus today. It is a violence, not against your body per se, far less against your neighbor at all, but a violence against the sinfulness of your heart.
For your hope and your help, and your life, are in the Name of the Lord. His Name saves you, gives you divine life, and bears fruit in you, in your flesh, finally forever in the Resurrection. But the sin in your heart brings forth death in your body and actions, and leads to eternal damnation.
Both sinful unbelief and repentant faith are matters of the heart, which are embodied and bear fruit in your flesh, in your bodily life and actions. And those actions of your body, in turn, substantiate and strengthen the attitudes of your heart, whether for good or ill, for life or death.
Therefore, deny your body the sinful desires of lust and greed, and live in the faith and hope of the Resurrection of the body.
Live in and with your body, now, in view of the fact that your body shall be raised to live with God in His Kingdom forever. For your body also bears the Name of Christ Jesus.
Live in such a way that your body confesses His Name.
If your hand or foot or your eye is involved in sin, repent in your heart and therefore repent in your behavior, as well. Discipline your flesh to do good and not evil. Avert your eyes, divert your feet, and withhold your hand from wickedness.
To live in sin is already a kind of living death.
But to live by faith is to rely on the Name of Christ, unto the life everlasting. To live by faith in His Name is to pray, by and with His Word and Holy Spirit. And to live by faith in His Name is to avail yourself of His Ministry of the Gospel: to seek it out, to ask for it, and to support it.
In turn, to live by faith is also to live in love, catechizing and caring for others in the Name of Christ. It is to speak to and care for others as Christ Jesus does for you.
Would that all Christians would thus faithfully profess the Word of the Gospel they have heard!
By your words and actions, deal with your neighbor in patience and peace, with long-suffering kindness, in mercy and forgiveness. Be slow to anger, reluctant to hurt, eager to heal and quick to forgive, as you are forgiven in the Name of Christ Jesus. Restore your erring brother or sister in a spirit of gentleness, for love’s sake, in the humility of repentance.
In short, discipline yourself, not only to avoid what is evil, but also to do and to say what is good and right: whether you feel like it or not, but especially when you don't, for that is when the discipline is most needed.
In all of this, as you recognize your own sin and stumbling (as you certainly will discover, when you examine yourself honestly, as you should), do not despair — and do not continue in your sin, either — but call upon the Name of the Lord, and rely on Christ Jesus.
He cares for you and provides for you. He forgives you all your sins, for His own Name’s sake. And He shall raise you up, body and soul, to newness of life each day (in His own righteousness and holiness), and to the life everlasting in heaven.
For He has borne all your burdens in His own body on the cross; indeed, He alone has carried the whole burden of His people. He has brought them all, including you, out of slavery to sin, through the wilderness of death, into the promised Kingdom of His God and Father.
And see here how He feeds you on the way, and how He feeds the vast multitude of His Church, with Meat and Drink indeed: His Cup, with more than water, with His holy precious Blood; and His own Body, the life-giving Manna of God, which refreshes and restores your soul and renews your body for the resurrection and eternal life with God.
Even in the midst of death, here is real life and real living.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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