31 May 2013

Because He Has Shown His Mercy Toward Us

Beloved, rejoice in the Lord.  Give all thanks and praise to Him.  Sing to Him, and bless His holy Name.  Glorify and honor Him; worship and adore; because He has shown His mercy toward us.

The Lord your God, the holy and almighty One, here comes to visit you in peace, to dwell with you in love.  As by the Tabernacle and the Temple in the Old Testament, in the Ark of the Covenant and upon the Mercy Seat, He lived in the midst of His people Israel with His grace and His glory; so now, in His own flesh and blood, conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from within the Most Holy Place of her womb, the Lord Himself, Yahweh Sabaoth, has come to be with you.

He comes by His Word, and with His Holy Spirit, with His grace and His glory, in His true divinity and His true humanity, in body and in soul, hidden within the womb of His Church on earth.  And by His coming and His presence, by His gracious visitation, this house made with human hands is now a priestly house, wherein you are met by God, and sanctified, and given life with Him.

The incarnate Son of God, Christ Jesus, comes to be with you, in order to bring you, in and with Himself, to God the Father in heaven.  That is the goal and the purpose for which He has created and redeemed you, and for which the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies you — and the whole Christian Church on earth — by the Gospel of the same Lord Jesus Christ.

By His mighty arm and outstretched hand, He raises you up: from poverty and weakness, to wealth and strength; from humility and shame, to glory and honor; from hunger and fear, to contentment and full satisfaction; from weariness and sorrow, to peace and rest.

He defeats all your enemies, and He defends you from them.  He brings you out of danger into safety and security with God.  He does not accuse and condemn you, but He forgives all your sins.  He does not punish and destroy you, as you deserve, but He delivers you from death and raises you up from the dust of the earth.  He recreates you in His Image for newness of life with Him; not only in your soul and spirit, but in your body, just like His own.

In Christ Jesus, you are anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit, and you are bound to God the Father — as He is bound to you — by an everlasting Covenant, in a divine and holy Communion.

So it is that God, the Father Almighty, has spoken to you by His Son; and in remembrance of this mercy, He acts to do all of these great things for you.  The One who promises is faithful, and He will surely do it.  Blessed are you, who thus believe, that there will be a fulfillment of His Word.

It is by faith in His Word — by the Sound of His Voice — by the preaching of Christ Jesus — and not yet by sight or experience — that you are blessed by the presence of Christ and made brand new in Him.  As it was for St. Mary and St. Elizabeth, and as it is for the whole Church on earth.

You do not yet see the fulfillment with your eyes.  You can’t investigate it with your hands, in such a way as to prove it.  Instead, you hear the promise with your ears, and it is by that promise that you live in hope and eager expectation.  You look forward with anxious longing for the revealing of the sons of God, when you shall see your dear Lord face to face, and you shall be like Him.

For now, to be sure, you do not yet feel or experience the Resurrection, but you bear and suffer the Cross, within and without.  There is still poverty, hunger, weakness, and fear in this world: in your own body and life, and in others round about you.  There are still tyrants on earth, on every level, who rule with an iron fist and deal unjustly with those who languish under their abusive power.  The wicked still prosper, with impunity, while the righteous are persecuted and are put to death.

Not only that, but in yourself, as well, in your mortal flesh and blood, and in your heart and mind, there are still sin and death at work.  Your faith and love are not what they should be.  You doubt the Lord and the Word He has spoken.  You do not trust His promises, nor do you expect Him to do you any good.  You hurt and neglect the very people you should help and be caring for.  You are haughty, when you ought to be humble; and you despair, when you ought to rejoice.

But now, then, do not wallow in self-pity, nor defend yourself in arrogant pride, but repent, trust Christ, and live.   Do not be afraid of anything, but fear the Lord your God, and have no other gods before Him.  For He is with you.  Behold, He comes to visit you in His justice and righteousness.

Repent of your sins, therefore, and rejoice in His Salvation.  For His coming does not depend on you, nor is it met with your own worthiness, but He visits you by grace, and He gives to you His great salvation in accordance with His tender mercy and compassion.

In all events, He is here, and that is most certainly true.

The Holy Triune God remembers His mercy and His faithfulness, and He fulfills His Word, in the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son.  For He has permanently bound Himself to you, already by His conception in the womb of St. Mary.  Flesh of your flesh, and blood of your blood, He does not deny you or disown you, but He joys to call you His own kin, and He defends you.

He is not ashamed to call you His brother, or His sister; because He has redeemed you, obtained forgiveness and established righteousness for you, and brought about the New Creation, into which He now calls you and brings you, in His Body of flesh and blood, by His Cross and Resurrection.

If what you see and feel and experience, for now, is the Cross and suffering, sin, death, temptation, sorrow, and the grave, so has He made all of these His own, and borne them in His Body for you; and He has dealt with them, in faith and love, in humility and perfect obedience, even unto death.  Wherefore God, His Father, has raised Him from the dead and highly exalted Him.  And that which He has done for you, accomplished and received on your behalf, is now pledged and given to you.

Thus, His preaching of repentance wounds you, in order to heal you: it crucifies and buries you, in order to raise you up and make you alive; and it calls you to faith in the forgiveness of your sins.  He puts to death the old Adam in you, in order to make of you a new man, or a new woman; no less than He made of St. Mary a New Eve, and He Himself became a new and better Adam for us all.

This Lord Jesus Christ, with His mighty arm, with His great things and His holy Name, is found here in this place, where His Word has directed you.  Arise, and come in a hurry to find Him here in His priestly house, in His gracious hospitality: in the Ministry of His Word and Sacraments, and in the fathers and mothers of faith, who are righteous in the sight of God and live in His Love.

The holiness of His Name is thereby demonstrated, and bestowed upon you here, in His grace, mercy, and peace toward you.  For those whom He calls and sends to go before His face — like St. John the Baptist, even from his mother’s womb — those men likewise announce the presence of the Lord and rejoice in Him by the Gospel; whereby you also, like St. Elizabeth, are filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoice in the Life and Salvation of Christ.

Hidden here, in the womb of His Church, the Body and Blood of the Lord, born of Mary, crucified and risen, are given and poured out for you to eat and to drink in the remembrance of His mercy.  For so does He fill the hungry with good things, and so does He feed you with these great things, unto the resurrection of your body and the life everlasting in Communion with the Holy Trinity.

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

No comments: