The Kingdom of heaven has drawn near to you in Christ, in His Word and in His Flesh; and now, by His preaching, He draws you to Himself, to bring you to the Father in Peace.
He has seen you from afar, and beheld you with compassion, and has come down from heaven to lay hold of you in love. And He has gone up the Mountain of God, in order to gather you up and bear you in His Body into the Kingdom of heaven.
He has come down, in order to raise you up. So it is that His Baptism — in and out of the water, in and out of His death — has begun the fulfillment of all righteousness; which is to speak of the relationship of sons with the Father in heaven, sons who are beloved and well-pleasing in Christ.
In His dying is your atonement and the forgiveness of all your sins, whereby He repairs what was broken and rectifies what was out of sync between you and God. And in His rising from the dead, in His Ascension to the right hand of the Father, is your righteousness and sanctification. For you follow after Him, through death into life, to live and abide in the presence of the Holy Trinity.
It is for this great salvation, this beatific vision of God in Christ, that the Lord Jesus preaches to you, and the Holy Spirit calls you by this Gospel to come to Jesus, to be with Him where He is, now and forever. You are with Him, even now, because He is here with you in mercy. And you shall be with Him hereafter in eternity, in the Resurrection.
He calls you, then, to bear the Cross after Him: In the humility of repentance, to be turned away from your sins and toward your Creator. In the confidence of faith, to give attention to His Word, and to rely upon His promises in the face of death. And in the love and mercy of Christ Jesus, to do justice for others, to love and practice kindness, and to walk quietly and patiently with God.
He calls you to find your life and your salvation in Him: To rejoice and be glad in His Cross, and in suffering for the sake of His Cross, in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection. To hunger and thirst for His righteousness, above and beyond the daily bread that your mortal body needs. And, so also, to be satisfied with what He feeds you. For, in His Body and His Blood, you are fed by God Himself; not simply the Food of Paradise from the hand of God, but the Lord Himself has become your Meat and Drink, your Bread and Wine, your true Food for both body and soul.
This way of faith and life in Christ the Crucified, in the New Creation of His Resurrection, and in His Blessed Sacrament, is already the contrast between the Kingdom of heaven, which is at hand, and this old fallen world, which is perishing and passing away.
Yet, His Kingdom has come even here, into the midst of sin and death and deep darkness. And here it is given to you by grace, by the Word and Spirit of Christ Jesus, in whom you see God; for He has become flesh and tabernacles among us, the Light of the Revelation of the Glory of God.
In Him, In His Body of flesh and blood, your eyes behold His great salvation, because, in this Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, you are reconciled to God in true Peace and Joy. No longer are you at enmity with God; nor are you a slave any longer, shackled and chained by the Law’s demands and the devil’s accusations. But you are called, and so you are, a blessed son of God in Christ, born again by your Baptism into His Cross and Resurrection. The world cannot rob you of that, because it is given to you by Christ. He has opened His mouth and spoken: It is so.
So, then, do you live and love like Christ in relation to God and man, on earth as it is in heaven. You are comforted in the face of sin and death by His forgiveness and His righteousness. Thus, you are merciful, as He is merciful toward you; gentle, kind, and pure of heart; slow to anger, and abounding in love. As the Lord your God has made peace with you and all the world by the Cross and Resurrection of Christ Jesus, so are you at peace with God and with all people, for His sake.
You live righteously, which is to say, that you live by faith in Christ, in whom God is your true Father, and you are His true child. Even though you die, yet shall you live. Though you are poor and miserable, yet the heavens and the earth are your inheritance. The One who feeds you here and now with the Fruits of His Cross, will feed you forever with Himself in the Resurrection, and you shall be satisfied. So shall you see God and live.
Blessed are you, indeed, who bear the Cross of Christ and the Name and Spirit of God; who are baptized into Him. For in Him all things are yours forever, since He has gone up the Mountain for you, and has sat down at the Right Hand of the Father, and by His grace you follow after Him.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The sacrifice of Christians
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