29 September 2013

Rich Man / Poor Man / Son of Man

What is the point and purpose of your stuff, whether much or little?

Whatever sort of “wealth” the Lord has provided you, what should you do with it?

And what about your particular sort of “poverty”?
What is the point and purpose of that?

Whatever may be in your hand, or whatever may be lacking, be rich toward God and rich in good works toward your neighbor.  Faith and love, that is how you are to receive and use stuff.

Do not be conceited, nor trust in your riches, but in God.  You know the First Commandment: You shall have no other gods before the one true God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  You should fear, love and trust in Him above all things.  You do so in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, do not fear, love and trust in anything or anyone more than the Lord Jesus, who gives you His Body and His Blood from His Altar.

And do not be consumed by your desire for earthly wealth, whether you have it or not; whether it be money, or clothes, or music or movies, or books, or children, or land, animals, or any other worldly goods, all of which waste away in time.

Neither poverty nor riches will save you, but only faith in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, be content with whatever God has given you by His grace, that is, by His Charity; for you deserve none of those things which He has placed into your hands, but He gives them all to you by grace, because He loves you, and He is kind and merciful.

Exercise your stewardship of those gifts to care for the Lazarus at your gate, whom God has laid at your feet to be loved and cared for with His Charity, with His own fatherly, divine goodness and mercy.

Cross over to that poor man now, while you can, in love!

Or, if you are the poor man, and if perhaps you lack even food and clothing, trust the Lord your God, even in your affliction, and pray!  For your Father in heaven hears your prayers and answers them, even the sighs and sad groans of your heart.

Give heed to Moses and the Prophets, in order to know the good and gracious will of God and His way of life.  And wherever you are found to be lacking in faith and love, Repent, and do good.  Where you have done what is wrong, do so no longer.  And where you have not done what you should, do it now.  Not to save yourself, but because it is good and right; because God has commanded you to do so.

But how shall you be persuaded?  And how shall you be saved from all your sin?

O foolish of heart and slow to believe!  For you it is impossible.

But not with God.  And not for Christ.

What Moses and the Prophets preach — and what the Apostles now preach, and what your pastors preach — is the Cross and Resurrection of Christ Jesus, your Lord, your Savior and your God.

For your repentance and salvation, it was necessary for Him to suffer many things, and so to enter into His Glory through suffering.

And it is no less necessary that His Cross and Resurrection be preached to you, as the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of your sins; which is His work in you, as it has been His work for you.

He is the Rich Man who has made Himself poor in order to make you wealthy, not with perishable riches, but with all the treasures of the one true God.

He was clothed in purple in His Passion, but stripped naked in His death, in order to cover your nakedness and clothe you in His righteousness.

He was wounded sore, in order to salve your wounds and heal your sores by His holy and precious blood, poured out for you, for the forgiveness of all your sins.

He hungered and thirsted for the food and drink His body needed, yet He hungered and thirsted for righteousness far more, and He fasted and prayed, in order to feed you lavishly and sumptuously with His own holy Body and His precious Blood.

He has crossed the great chasm into Hades, and He has bridged that unbridgeable gap with His Life, in order to bring you, in and with Himself, out of death and the grave to the very bosom of the true God and Father in heaven.

For having borne the utter poverty of your sin and death — having atoned for your unbelief and selfish greed; for your doubts and fears, and laziness and covetous lust; for your idolatry, adultery and gluttony — He has been vindicated by His Father, who raised Him bodily from the dead, never to die again.

That Cross and Resurrection of Christ Jesus is your repentance, your resurrection, and your righteousness, now and forever.  Whether you are rich or poor, sick or healthy, better or worse.

For by your Baptism into Christ Jesus, you have died and risen with Him;
you have been stripped naked and clothed with Him.

You are not punished or tormented for your sin,
but you are comforted in and with Christ.

Neither wealth nor works nor worldly wisdom will help or serve you here.  But in your poverty and weakness, you are a little child at your Father’s Table.  It makes no difference how old or young you are.  He opens your mouth, and He feeds you.

Do not doubt that He will do so, now and always.  You shall not starve, nor be found naked.  For you are fed and clothed with Christ, who shares your flesh and blood; who has died and risen for you.  No good thing does He withhold from you.

For His sake, because He has made Himself like you, and because He has graced you with Himself to be like Him, the holy angels guard and keep you in His safety.  They are not ashamed to take you up into their strong embrace, to bear you up to your Father.  As even now they accompany you, dear little one, to the lavish Table of your dear Lord Jesus, who loves you very much and serves you most gladly.

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

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