quod pro nobis traditum est

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Homily

Feast of The Resurrection of Our Lord 2006

The Place Where They Laid Him

Mark 16:1-8

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

They laid Jesus in the garden in a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. This place was near where He was crucified. When the women arrived at the tomb to anoint Jesus' body they found that the stone had been rolled away. There was a young man there who told them "See the place where they laid Him." They were afraid and amazed and fled quickly not telling anyone anything.

Those who seek Jesus of Nazareth know that the Son of David died and was buried. They know the meaning of the cross. The angel at Jesus' resurrection told the women, "You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified." We are reminded in the Church by the words of the Apostle, "We preach Christ crucified." In spite of countless claims to religious truth and many who seek for us to follow them and in spite of those who claim by code that Jesus married Mary Magdalene or that He plotted with Judas to betray Him we are given in sacred revelation a different picture of God and death. A Father of the Church, who lived in the 7th and 8th centuries, wrote, "For there are many named Jesus and many who claim to be the Christ, but we worship the one crucified." (ACCS, II, 244)

This is the One we seek and the One who we seek to worship. He is the Son of Man who suffered and died, who was crucified in the flesh. This is the One whose body is no longer in the place where they laid Him. The angel said to the women, "He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him."

This is frightening news. It is news that changed the hearts of many and led to the continuation of Christ's work in His Church on earth. He is risen, indeed! Now God's saving work is given to men in its entirety. He who loved us to the end is no longer dead. He lives! The women told the disciples and in time Jesus appeared to them and then to more than 500 others before His ascension into heaven. We see in Christ, in His death and resurrection, the life that is ours, a true gift from God in heaven. We see the significance and holiness of the sabbath, the day of the Lord's resurrection. We begin to doubt why we should not come to the Lord's house and worship Him, for everything falls down as vain excuse, without the Lord's command and promise that is ours in His Word.

What we need to fear is our own and the world's tendency to devalue the dignity of the body as seen in abortion, in the living of the homosexual life, in the pursuit of euthanasia, in the prejudice against our neighbor. These and all of our sin lead only to death, the inability to receive God's goodness and know His mercy in Christ. Yes, we know all too well what materialism is. For this and more Christ died in the body. This is God's love for us and the world that He sent His son into the world. Jesus comes from God and goes back to God but He does not do so without first being crucified and then rising from the dead that we may be forgiven of our sins and be partakers of His salvation. That is the significance of this greatest of Feasts. His death and life is given to us and all for the life of the world. We live because He lives.

This death and resurrection of Christ is daily in our baptism, it is weekly in the Sacrament of the Altar. It is in the hearing of Holy Absolution and in the preaching of the Gospel. This is Christ Jesus, God's forgiveness in the flesh for you and me. He makes us holy in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and gives us the resurrected life that is lived out in our daily vocations for the benefit of our neighbor.

God grant that as we celebrate this Holy Feast of The Resurrection of Our Lord, and we are gathered weekly on the Lord's day of resurrection, that we be turned away from our old lives of sin and selfishness and die to sin and be turned toward the Lord, that we may always seek Jesus, and through Him in the Spirit come to see the face of God Himself. Look at the altar. See the place where Jesus' crucified and risen body and blood is laid, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. He is risen! He is risen and He is here to give you life and salvation. "To Him be glory and power for ever, through endless ages, Amen." (ACCS, II, 245)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

the Lord's resurrection day

In the time of the old covenant, the sabbath was highly revered. Now under the gospel the sabbath has been recast, now viewed as the Lord's resurrection day. The sabbath formerly had pertained to the pedagogy and rudiments of the law. When the great master himself came and fulfilled them all for us, all that had prefigured his coming was transformed. The old sabbath was like a candle lit in the night before the rising and appearing of the sun.

- St. Athanasius (ACCS, II, 240)

bundle up

Yesterday was sunny and 82 degrees. The forecast for tomorrow is rainy with
temperatures in the 50s. Now that is more like true Easter weather in Wisconsin.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Homily for Good Friday

Good Friday 2006

In the Garden a New Tomb - John 19:41-42

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

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

Two of the last words of Jesus before He gave up His Spirit and died were "I thirst." Jesus suffered in the body as He hung on the cross and this suffering is how Jesus departed "His own." Everything in the days before pointed to this hour, the hour of His glory. This hour of glory is an hour of suffering and pain but not an hour that Jesus sought to escape. So He thirsts and dies. When He is given sour wine to quench this brief suffering He is ready and says, "It is finished."

"It is finished." The Son of David is finished suffering all the sin that He bore in the body because of His love for "His own" whom He loves to the end. He came from God for this very hour. For God so loved the world. This moment is God's glorious hour. Now man is reconciled to God and has peace with Him. Jesus has shed His blood as the perfect sacrifice and the blood and water that flows out of His side gives life to all who believe. This is an hideous death and Jesus, though innocent, dies like a criminal among criminals. The witnesses are there. As He gave up His spirit He died in the flesh.

Born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He now hangs lifeless on the cross. His mother is there with Him and the beloved disciple takes her into his care as Jesus requested. With Pilate's permission Joseph of Arimathea comes and takes Jesus' body away for burial. Nicodemus brought about 100 pounds of a mixture of myrrh and aloes. Following the Jewish custom, they buried Jesus in strips of linen with the spices.

The reality of Jesus' death is recorded in detail in Holy Scripture. The holy Evangelists portray this moment in history for the Church. We remember the Passion and Death of our Lord for it is His glorious hour. Sinless, He marched to Jerusalem putting aside all temptations and distractions. Satan put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus but He could not put it into Jesus' heart to avoid His suffering and death. The victory is seen then at the cross, in Jesus' suffering and death. The serpent's head is crushed. Jesus overcame temptation in the wilderness and now He vanquishes all power of the devil in becoming death for us and for the life of the world.

Holy Scripture records, "Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus . . ." The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was protected by the angels of God so that Adam and Eve would not eat of it. The sin and resulting death that is in the world leads us away from God and away from life in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the new Adam and His cross is the Tree of Life. We are overcome by this sin and temptation which cannot receive God's goodness and which is everywhere in this world, infecting our own bodies. Here in the garden, in a new tomb near where Jesus was crucified lies the body of our Lord prepared for burial. This body given unto death for our sins, this blood shed for us for the forgiveness of sins, lies apparently helpless and defeated. So too is our sin and the death that we face in the body, helpless and defeated. For now we are clearly redeemed in both soul and body and in His death we are given life. Amen.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Homily for Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday 2006
He Loves Them to the End - John 13:1-15

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

Jesus, the Son of David, is near the hour of the purpose of His life among men. He is about to leave the world as He came, in humility. Yet this humility, which is not comfortable to the modern Christian, is His way of loving "His own" to the end. Indeed, His departure includes much more than humility for He will be betrayed by one of His own disciples, He will suffer at the hands of soldiers and religious and civil leaders, and He will be crucified shamefully as a criminal on the cross. Jesus knows that this is His hour. He sees that what is to become of Him is much more than what "His own" can bear. Yet this is the very hour that must come for Him to demonstrate to His disciples and to all people His love for them. That this hour would mean so much pain and suffering and cost Him His life, Jesus "loved them to the end." Jesus' end is not the end but rather it is the necessary hour for Him "to depart from this world to the Father."

So that we do not fall into thinking that Jesus' washing of feet is something required of us for salvation we need to look at what is going on here. God had given all things into Jesus' hands. He came from God and was going to God. That is why how Jesus came into this world is so important and why how He was going to leave is so important. He was born humbly of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. As He grew in stature before God and men He was shown to be the Son of God at His Baptism and His life from that time on meant conquering the temptations of the devil, preaching the Gospel, healing the sick and walking toward Jerusalem to this point of His departure. Even Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was in humility as He rode in on a donkey to the shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Here, as Jesus washes the feet of His disciples, we see real humility, for He is their Lord and Teacher, and He makes Himself their servant. They do not understand this until later, just as they do not understand what Jesus did in His institution of the Holy Supper at the celebration of the Passover until He appeared to them on the road to Emmaus in the flesh risen from the dead.

Peter's reaction to Jesus is our reaction to Him. We are uncomfortable with His humility. Also, we have trouble receiving what He has to give to us. But when Jesus says He must do this so that they have part with Him then Peter is all ears. He wants Jesus to wash more than his feet. Anyone who is washed by Jesus is cleansed. But not all are clean. Though Jesus loves "His own" to the end, the devil had entered the heart of Simon's son, Judas, to betray Jesus. This is not Jesus' idea for Judas to betray Him that is plotted out in secret but that of the devil as is recorded in Holy Scripture. Judas cannot receive Jesus' love so He cannot be cleansed. He will betray Jesus unto death.

Jesus' action of washing His disciples' feet is more than an example for His disciples to follow. Here the Lord teaches them to receive what He is to do for them and receive what He has to give them. He foretells His own death to them for He is the Suffering Servant who humbly gives up all for them and their salvation. This is the hour of the cross, God's love and salvation for the world through His Son, the Son of David, who must die to reconcile the world back to God. So too Christ's Church is to humbly receive what is handed down to her in the Lord's Supper. The Body of Christ given unto death for our sins. The Blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of our sins. We are given in this Sacrament the testament of Christ's love for us. By God's grace we are saved through faith in Christ. This faith in Christ is not apart from Him but makes us, like His disciples, have a part in Him and His salvation. Therefore, it is necessary to examine oneself and receive these gifts worthily, by faith. At the altar Christ calls us forward to receive Him in humble repentance and faith as He comes dressed humbly for us under bread and wine. We are not to harbor rejection of His love and cleansing for us. In faith we receive His Body and Blood. As Jesus' washing of His disciples' feet was a foretelling of the giving up of His life unto death so is His Last Supper, the New Testament, a proclamation of Christ and His death. We sinners who are called to eternal life in Christ are called to partake of this Sacrament of the Altar often, for as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim His death until He comes. Jesus died and in His death we are given life. Jesus rose and ascended into heaven where He reigns in glory. He who reigns in heaven reigns also on earth in His Church and, especially, here at His altar. He will come again and on that Day you and I and His Church on earth, who proclaim His death on the cross, will go to our God and Father, as our blessed Lord did. After undergoing His hour of suffering and death He loved us to the end. So He loves us to the end of time. To Jesus be all glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Holy Week - a meditation on the Church

Where is the Church? Nowadays we hear that God is everywhere and that the true faith is in our hearts. Still, where is the Church that has Christ's promise of prevailing against the gates of hell? This Church is where Christ crucified and risen is present and comes to His people as He promises in the sacred ministry to give us His gifts of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. This one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is not new but has continued on in the apostles' doctrine throughout the centuries. By His grace Christ's Church continues to find her life in Him and in His merciful gifts.

Our Lord Jesus Christ grant grace to His Church,
that we may know and follow Him in His Passion, Death and glorious Resurrection;
that we may see and know Christ and receive Him in His gifts;
and, that we may share in His victory over sin, death and the devil
and join Him in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

Grant us grace to see and know both Christ and His Church on earth. In this Church God grant that we, His children, be drawn through the Son to the Father in the Spirit, the one true God, to whom belongs all glory and honor, in heaven and on earth, now and forever.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the centuries disappear

"In the Word of the Gospel, Christ, the Word Incarnate,
speaks to us. In the Sacrament He gives us the same as
He gave to the Twelve at the Last Supper. He gives us
as His true Body which was sacrificed on Calvary and
raised from the dead on Easter. This makes us not only
contemporaneous with Him, but unites us with Him in a
way that transcends everything that we otherwise call
'remembrance.' The centuries that separate us from
His earthly days and from the time of His death
disappear." - This Is My Body, p. 380

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Holy Communion

"Oh, send Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
let them bring me to Your holy hill.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy."

(Psalm 43; Introit for Judica)

The Lord's Temple

Here is the homily for meditation from the final midweek Lenten service prior
to Holy Week. This year’s theme is “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord”

The Son of David (Solomon) Enters Jerusalem and Builds the Temple of the Lord /
El Hijo de David (Salomón) Entra Jerusalén y Edifica el Templo del Señor
1 Kings / Reyes 1:32-40 - Lent V – April 5, 2006 Saint Stephen, Milwaukee

And King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. The king also said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon. There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king in my place. For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.” Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, “Amen! May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too. As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.” So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon. Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound. (1 Kings 1:32-40)

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

Here we see that David's son, Solomon, is anointed king to reign on his father's throne and not Adonijah who sought the throne against the king's will. David is old and ready to depart in the peace of the Lord. David's sin brought the death of one of his sons. Another of his sons was killed in battle as he sought to overthrow his father. The Lord promised to David that he would establish his house and throne forever. Now He provides David and His people a new king, his own son, Solomon. And Adonijah bows in fear to the will of God.

Solomon means "man of peace" and he typifies the peace and rest that God grants to His people as He establishes His eternal throne. This man is not perfect, just like his father David. Yet Solomon is the one chosen to enter Jerusalem on the royal mule where he is anointed as King by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet. This new king brings rejoicing to the people. He is the king who will build and dedicate the great Temple for God's people.

The people of God have no God if they do not have the Temple. This is the place where the Lord causes His glory to dwell. In the wilderness He was with them in the pillar of cloud by day and in the pillar of fire by night. He will now dwell with His people in the Temple. There is the place where He is gracious and manifests His presence among His people. There is the place where the people of God find His graciousness and peace.

Solomon is the king whom He chose to make this possible. But he is not the only king. The Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to another son of David. At Jesus' baptism He was anointed in the water and the Spirit. Jesus was made manifest as God's Son by the voice of His Father from heaven. God's mercy to David and his children and through them to all people is manifest in Jesus the location of God's presence and grace among men. Jesus comes to save people from their sins. He is the chosen Son of Man who enters Jerusalem on a donkey as God's people shout, "Hosanna to the Son of David." They do not know that He goes to die but they know that He is their king. The Temple will eventually be destroyed and Jesus' crucifixion on the cross will bring everlasting peace to people, as He becomes the sacrifice for our sins.

The Temple then is raised again in three days. Jesus' body is raised and glorified. He ascends to reign forever over heaven and earth. He reigns on earth for His people at the altars of His Church until the Last Day. This Body given unto death and this Blood shed for the forgiveness of sins is the ongoing feast, the ongoing place of Christ's gracious and manifest presence among His people. Therefore it is no surprise that throughout the history of the Church Lent was the time for catechesis in preparation for Baptism and then the Lord's Supper. Here God's people pick up their crosses and follow Him, denying the world and their sinful flesh and trusting in the Good Shepherd to guide and protect them. The Incarnate Son of God does just that through His Cross and Passion to the Sacrament that is given for us. Look at the Altar for that is where you see the Temple and where you are led to the City of our God, the new Jerusalem.

May God grant His mercy and peace to His people as they gather in His name and in His presence in remembering the Passion of Our Lord. All glory be to the Son who with the Father and the Spirit reign now and forever.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

the church's scriptural tradition

"This is about the sum of our teaching. As can be seen, there is nothing here that departs from the Scriptures or the catholic church or the church of Rome, in so far as the ancient church is known to us from its writers." - The Augsburg Confession, Article XXI (Tappert, Latin)