21 November 2009

Learn the Lesson of His Tender Tree, and Know that His Summer Is Near

Pay attention to what you see.

Give ear to what you hear from God, the Lord.

All around you and within you, there is sin and death, decay and destruction. Everything within and without is wearing out and wasting away. Nothing that you see and feel and experience will last. Nothing that you know so well and are so prone to fear, love and trust will remain.

Number your days, and know how short your life is. Consider your end, that your lifetime is nothing. There is no strength of man that survives.

What, then, is your hope?

Your hope is in the Lord.

Give ear, again, to what He says. Pay attention to what He does.

He deals with sin, which is the problem. It is the underlying problem, not so much as bad behavior to be punished, but as a turning away from God, the Creator, who is alone the Author and Giver of life.

He deals with sin by sending forth a law and establishing His justice. Now His righteousness is near, and His salvation has gone forth. Although the heavens and the earth will perish — the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment — His salvation and His righteousness are forever.

His righteousness and salvation are forever, and they are for you.

His arm will judge His people. Therefore, wait upon His arm in hope. For with His mighty, outstretched arm, in the palm of His hand, He suffers the tribulation and the final judgment of sin in Himself. He, Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, atones for the sins of the world. He rectifies what was broken in all of creation. He reconciles the world to God: in Himself.

The Son has left His home with the Father in heaven and has come forth on a journey to redeem you and save you. As true Man, conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary — as your brother in the flesh, with a body and blood like yours — He has waited in faith upon His Father (not knowing the day nor hour). He has heeded and relied upon His Father’s faithful Word. He has taken heed, stayed awake, and been alert; so that, when the day and hour came, He was ready.

Learn the lesson of His Tree. Consider its tenderness, its leaves and its fruit, which are for the healing of the nations. They are no less so for you. He has sent forth His messengers with its rich and lush produce to gather His elect from the four winds, to call His disciples from all nations: To call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify His whole Church, on earth as it is in heaven; daily and richly to forgive you all of your sins.

He has set His servants to care for His household. To feed and clothe, to nurture and teach His family. To keep watch, both day and night. To guard your coming and going by His Word. To guide all your days and your deeds in His Peace.

So, also, to you He says: "Be on the alert!" Take heed. Be watching for Him and waiting upon Him. Set your heart on the pilgrim’s way, to live by faith as a sojourner through this world, a wayfarer on earth. Lift up your head, your heart and your mind, unto Christ your Savior; unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, who shall cause you to stand in His glorious presence, blameless and beloved before the God and Father.

Keep yourself in that Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.

But how?

He has taught you how, and He continues to catechize you in the way you are to go, which is the way of life in Him:

Build yourself up on your most holy faith by giving attention to the Word of Christ. Hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it. Avail yourself of the Gospel, that is, the preaching of Christ, His Word of Holy Absolution, the administration of His Body and His Blood in remembrance of Him. Return daily to the significance of your Holy Baptism in His Name. You will not overdo it or get too much of Christ Jesus.

Pray in the Holy Spirit: at all times, without ceasing. Not by your own reason and strength, but by the Word of Christ, as He has spoken to you and taught you to pray (and promised to hear you). Pray throughout your days, in the morning when you rise, and in the evening when you lay you down to sleep; when you sit down to eat, and when you have eaten your fill. Let your life itself be a kind of prayer, as you go about your vocations and serve your neighbors in love. Pray also within the Communion of the Church, as belonging to the Body and Bride of Christ, the Lord.

Wait eagerly, even anxiously, for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life. Set your hope fully on Him, and fix your eyes on Him by faith in His Word and promises. Do not be consumed by the temporal, perishable things of this life on earth, but comfort and strengthen yourself with the divine, eternal things of Christ.

And as you wait upon His mercy, so have mercy on your neighbor: Comfort and encourage the doubting in their weakness and fear. Save others by snatching them out of the fire with admonition and exhortation; but call them to repentance in all fear and humility before God, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Have mercy, as you also depend upon the mercy of God in Christ; for He is merciful indeed. Be gentle and compassionate, as He is gentle and compassionate with you. Forgive, as you yourself are freely forgiven.

Have no fear, and do not despair; for the Lord helps you in your weakness and doubts, and He saves you from the fire. He persists in His constant prayer and intercession for you, as He ever stands before the Father in heaven as your great High Priest. He faithfully speaks His Word to you, His Law and His Gospel, so that you are not left to your own devices of sin and death.

In calling you daily to repentance, He calls you daily to faith in His forgiveness of all your sins, to find your Sabbath rest and perfect peace in His righteousness and holiness, in His innocence and blessedness forever. Indeed, the forgiveness that is already yours in His holy, precious Blood delivers you from every evil of body and soul, unto that day and that hour when He shall finally call you from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven. Even now His fruitful Cross shines the summer sunshine of His faith and love upon you in His Peace.

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

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