30 December 2014

And You Shall Be Like Him

The Son of God has appeared in the flesh on earth, to take away sins and to destroy the works of the devil.  But the way He goes about it is not obvious.  You don’t yet see Him as He is, though you know Him and you love Him by faith in His Word.

The world does not know Him at all, nor is it able to recognize Him for who and what He is, but rather hates Him and persecutes Him; because the world is sinful and practices lawlessness.  It is driven by the devil in a jealous rage, in prideful spite, in covetous greed and terrible fear.

Take care, then, how you live in the world.  For your own flesh is prone to those ways of the world.  It perceives sin to be a way of life, and it thinks that lawlessness is freedom.

But, beloved, you are born of God, and His Seed abides in you.  It is for this reason, also, that the Son of God has become flesh, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary: so that you would be called a child of God by the gracious adoption of His Father.  Indeed, you are a child of God — you are a son of God in Christ Jesus — by virtue of your Baptism into His Cross and Resurrection.

It does not yet appear what you will be, but when the Son of God appears in Glory, then, not only will you see Him just as He is, but you will be like Him.

Therefore, fix your hope on Him, as St. Joseph did, by hearing and heeding His Word.  Listen to what He says, trust in His promises, and do whatever He calls you to do.

By such faith you are purified, just as He is pure.  And you abide in Him.  You do not live in sin, because you live in the righteousness of Christ, and all of your sins are taken away by Him; they are not counted against you.

That is why He goes into Egypt — and God calls Him out again, into the Promised Land, His own beloved Son.  He lives in the midst of adversity and danger.  He takes upon Himself the burden of sin and death.  He bears the Cross and suffers reproach, hostility, persecution, and violence.

This, too, is why the world does not recognize Him or know Him as the true and only God; that is, because He appears in such frailty and weakness, in such a pitiable state.  It holds Him in contempt, therefore, abuses Him, and finally kills Him, because it can.  And it does the same to you, as well, because it can, and because you belong to Him.

You see, already under the Cross, you are like Him!  You are frail and weak; you suffer and die. And He has made Himself like you.

But now, God has also called Him out Egypt.  The Father has raised up His beloved Son from death to life.  And so does He raise you up and call you to Himself, as His own dearly beloved child, through the Resurrection of the same Lord Jesus Christ.

He does call you to live and abide for a while in Egypt — under the Cross in the midst of sin and death — but even there He still preserves you in peace and provides for all your needs of body and soul.  And in due time, He will call you from this vale of tears into the heavenly Canaan, to your true home with Him in Paradise.

Even now, it is already from heaven that you are born of God and named by God in Christ.

Dear Christian, you are baptized, and Christ who is your hope is risen from the dead.  That last great enemy, death, has been defeated.  Therefore, with the Child and His Mother, you are rescued, you are cared for, and you live.

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

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