“THE LIVING CRUCIFIX: OUR LORD AND GOD”
Saint John 20. 19-31
QUASIMODOGENITI: 7 April Anno Domini 2013
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
This is not a story to remember and play act. The tragic, possibly faithless error of Protestantism, especially the gooey, saccharine, modern “faith in my heart” abomination of the last century or so, is hearing of Easter Eve and having nothing but pious and warm feelings about it, or, of seeing everything on Sunday as only symbolic: our little weekly Oberammergau sketches.
Conservative reformed are not off the hook either. If it’s only the Lord pulling us, elevating us, bringing us somewhere where He is that isn’t this house in Shawnee to “somehow” commune with Him by faith in our hearts…than to hell with it as Flannery O’Connor would have said. And Lutherans aren’t off the chopping block of Thomism, (not Aquinas, but Didymus), either. Most Lutherans are receptionists, which is heterodoxy at best, and a denial of the very Word of God at the least. Or most Lutherans by their lack of sacramental piety and reverence are functional low Episcopalians.
Stop being like the Twin, and start being like Saint John who believed the Lord was alive and present when the Magdalene told him…told him…the Word.
Stop looking at the sermon as the high-point of the Mass. As important as the Word is, and you just heard me say it’s of maximum importance…the Word, not sight, not empirical observation and validation, as important as the Word is…the sermon is just the waiter, the dinner server (you may or may not like—which sadly might be why pastors who preach to their seas of itching ears might be tipped better), just the waiter reading you the menu…getting you ready for the Feast of Eternity.
The pinnacle of the Mass is the Word made Flesh in your midst—for you—for the forgiveness of sins!
It is the Sacramental Word that is THE New Testament, not the written texts which came some decades and decades later.
There are many with weak faith, scandalously demanding faith, or even slipping away into disbelief faith. This isn’t about Thomas called Saint by the Church Catholic, it’s about “Joe-Billy-Lutheran” (or “Karl-Heinz-Schmitt-Lutheran”) who doesn’t even realize what is going on at the Divine Service!
The reason the Lord told St. Mary Magdalene (also in John’s Gospel) not to “hold on” or “touch me” (actually “do not cling to Me” the NKJV translation gets to the Greek quite nicely) is not because the Lord eschews contact, warmth and embrace, but because that is not where He is to be received in His fullness—for you! Is Jesus out there in nature? Is the Lord in “the garden?” Well, He was for the Magdalene. Go back 2,000 years and you too can have your fizzies and tremblies in the great outdoors. But if you’re a manly, disciplined, catechized and mature Disciple, you’ll be where He told you to be: here! Who did He let touch Him to their hearts content? Who did He let place their traitorous, cowardly, sinfully filthy monkey digits into His Holy nail wounds? Who did He let touch His deep gash in His side, over His heart—the heart of God?
Where “two or three are gathered together in My Name, there Am I in the midst of them…” That’s not a prayer meeting, a TNT study session, or your family devo time…it’s the Blessed Mass, the mysterious meal known as the Eucharist! He came to the “12” while they were at meat. The Lord ate with them: fish and honeycomb!
That was then, and now is now, and never-the-twain shall meet. You aren’t in the upper room and you won’t see the Christ the way James and Andrew saw Him. You are Thomas for the rest of your life—you are to believe the Word of His glorious resurrection and presence by the testimony of those who saw, touched, ate with, handled…and heard. Thomas did not initially believe the preached word…to his sin and shame. He repented; all is well with this heroic martyr Apostle who resides now in the very wounds that the Lord let him touch the following week. You too sin and repent…and are absolved…some of you even at the very Sacrament of Repentance which the Lord too has given for your consolation and strengthening.
Your pastor genuflects during the Historic Creed as Luther urged and as Christians have done for centuries…that’s custom; it’s salutary—a confession of the Homo Factus Est, and I urge it on you notwithstanding your demurring because of close rows or arthritic knees. But I genuflect during the consecration, as I urge you to start doing now, today, as well, because Jesus is here. We don’t copy Saint Thomas because it’s a symbolic re-enacting of the upper room. We don’t look at the elevated host and say “my Lord and my God” because we want to be “like Mike” or “like Tom,” but because Jesus is here.
Brow-beating, whining and constant cajoling at Lutherans to do things a “certain way,” even if it is a better way, will never produce anything other than resentful and ticked off parishioners…that’s to be sure; only the Holy Ghost, only the Word can convince Thomas that Jesus is present when Thomas doesn’t see or hear Jesus the way Thomas wants to.
If you see Jesus in the consecrated Host and Chalice; if you see His Holy Body and precious Blood in the bread and wine, it will because His Word, the Verba, has converted your hearts once again to believe and trust the word.
The Word made flesh will stand before you in a few minutes. The God/Man Who was born for you, Who lived for you, Who worked for you, Who died for you, Who rose for you, and Who ascended for you, will be enthroned on this Altar for you to eat and drink. And, as for your confession: mental, verbal, noetic, physical, well, as King David once said: “may the Lord do what seems good to Him.”
Once last thing: while bare crosses are not un-Christian, they are sub-Lutheran. They are not the reality or the Gospel we preach. They are, in this day and age, “half-measures,” ecumenical compromises which the un-catechized embrace so as not to offend the protestant, anti-Romanist, and agnostic. Crosses are neat, clean and basically ornamental. Paul wrote: “we preach Christ crucified,” which is quite simply: the Crucifix. When we pastors are accosted in parking lots and at restaurants by offended protestants for wearing a pectoral crucifix with the inanities: “I worship a risen Lord,” we must remember Saint Thomas.
Jesus is God. You do believe that. Jesus can do miracles. You do believe that. Jesus could have appeared to Thomas, and the other “10” with His Body restored, healed, and immaculate, post His terrible mutilation of that Friday past—He did not!
Jesus stood before Didymus a living, breathing, speaking, loving, CRUCIFIX…feet and hands pierced, side riven. Jesus stands here today streaming His Blood and love into your mouths. He comes to you this morn with His pierced Body to feed and wipe away tears.
Disciples are glad when they see the Lord!
Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believe.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost