“ASSES, ATONEMENT, & ANOINTINGS”
Saint Matthew 21. 1-9
AD TE LEVAVI - 1st Sunday of Advent: 1 December Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP (with material suggested by Fr. Charles Lehmann)
In The + Name of Jesus
“I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.” [Jer. 33. 14a]
It is not that the Lord needs you as if something in the perfect un-create Godhead required created matter outside its, His, own beatific and supernal glory. The Lord desires you with a conscious and deliberative LOVE from before the world began. God is love. God’s nature is to love, to share, and have communion.
Eden, the original Jerusalem if you will, the place where you and your parents were supposed to be, was pure, clean, safe, nourishing, wonderful beyond words, and good—very good. But because of conscious rebellion and pagan ego worship it was tossed aside like garbage, or, like the core of a piece of rotten unfulfilling fruit. You want choice and decision theology? There’s your “I have decided” false doctrine, resting squarely in Eve’s murderous and venal heart in conspiring with the liar and murderer from old; there’s the only “decision” your perverted reprobate heart will ever do…choosing to sin every day in every black and filthy way imaginable! Eve took, and you take, sinful hearts, minds, and hands and try to remake Eden, but you create only earthly Jerusalem’s. The Temple of God was the Lord’s own incursion and anchor in the City of Man. But Jerusalem in 30 A.D. was filled with as many sinners as Corinth or Rome…or metro Kansas City.
So the Son of God, the genuine Jerusalem, Melchizadek in the flesh, journeyed toward His fate of suffering and death to buy you back, to free you from the prison house of death. Advent is Jesus coming back as He once came in the “fullness of time” to remake time into eternity. Advent is Jesus riding into the Jerusalem then, riding into His New Jerusalem today, and soon, riding the clouds to take you to his Ever Jerusalem with its golden gates of splendor and its tables of Wedding Feasting!
He is always drawing “nigh unto Jerusalem” with His own Body to purify her stain and brokenness, with His own covering atonement; with His own Peace and handfuls of olive oil—His sweat and blood, to wash and bind up with balm of Law—keeping and forgiveness. Jesus is always loosing asses and colts—absolving and liberating in both Testaments of Old and New, of Hebrew and Greek, of Jew and Gentile! Jesus closes His own life and light and willingly submits to torture and death so as to open and set free. He opens eyes, ears, and tongues; He straightens spines and stops flows of blood, He drives out demons, leprosy, fornication, adultery, and prostitution. He conquers death and restores families and friends to one another and to His own family!
Jesus does His work as He did His work for 33 years of keeping the 10 Commandments—because He loves you not in sentiment and fickle emotion, but in sacrificial action and deed. He Advents Jerusalem on that fateful day which we still celebrate this morning, ever waiting for His imminent re-Advent, final Advent, and reappearing.
So, the Son becomes the genuine Son of Man and it is this God/Man Who rides into Jerusalem amidst the shouts of Hosanna! He rides in to die, but then, to die no more!
“For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.” [Jer. 33.17] By sitting on the Ass throne and the Wood throne; there was The Branch of Righteousness-growing up unto David, there He executed judgment, and there He saved Judah!
The Incarnate God; the Blood and Body of Jesus the God/Man, is what the Season of Adventide is all about: Immanuel! Ad Te Levavi—unto Thee O Lord do I lift up my soul—is because He went up to Jerusalem to go up even more to the Cross on Calvary and to lift up His Paschal Sacrifice to The Father. An incarnate God to be incarnatedly nailed and spiked down on wood—the wood from that twisted fallen tree at the center of the Garden, at the center of your sinful heart!
Not Nazareth where the Incarnation began with His holy conception; not Bethlehem where the Incarnation was first seen in His Nativity; and not Bethphage where the Incarnation was experienced in Rabbinical respect for a miracle—working Master Teacher and healer. But rather Jesus enters, Advents, into Jerusalem on an Ass, to the Greeks foolishness and to the Jews a stumbling block. God riding an Ass is the perfect avatar of life under the Cross and of the invisible realities of Christ taking and carrying your burdens, obligations and trespasses. God’s flesh & blood on a smelly and dirty animal. Soon to be God sweating, thirsting, and swelling up from punches, punctured, ripped, bleeding, and dying. You are with Him on that Ass, not holding on from behind, grasping for dear life as the Warrior races along on a battle—stallion, but in front of Him, cradled closely to His Side, and held tightly by His palms as He slowly approaches His destiny and yours. With you and your flesh on that Ass, next to God’s flesh, is the flesh of the whore, the Mexican immigrant, the Haitian aids patient, the Socialist eco-radical, and the homeless wino. Jesus suffered and died for their flesh, along with yours. He anointed their flesh to cleanse it like He anointed + yours! Jesus was enthroned on the Crucifix and planted in the tomb so that you would be placed, with all “The” Disciples upon thrones in the New Jerusalem.
C.S. Lewis’ immortal The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, does not end with Aslan dying on the Stone Table, or Aslan coming back to life in the morning, or even with the rout of the White Witch’s army of evil. Lewis’ apologetic ends (or begins) with the four (four the Evangelists?) Pevensie children crowned and seated upon Thrones in His Kingdom of Cair Paravel. Yes. Advent is coming. Advent is here.
Advent is not Tolkien’s high allegorical fantasy but the Triune God’s even higher and deeper literal, ontological, infinite, reality. Advent is truly the RETURN OF THE KING. Not Aragorn to a rebuild Minis Tirith to save Middle Earth, but Jesus of Nazareth to Jerusalem’s Golgotha to save the world, and especially them that believe. C.S. Lewis used the correct terminology for Edmund, Peter, Susan and Lucy when they were denominated as Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. For it is the proper way to note ones fleshly, fallen-flesh, heritage, what was lost, but what once was. Advent means you are now sons and daughters of the Living God and brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus the Prince of Peace.
Multitudes of Augsburg, come forward in your Advent parade this morning to Christ’s humble Ass of earthly elements, veiling a Divine Mystery, mysterion, sacramentum, and sacrament! He has spread out His robe for you to walk on and wear; He has strewn this Holy Ground with the palms of His own hand’s blood…no yellow brick road but a trail of red leads to His kiss of peace at the rail. Hosanna in the highest for He became the lowest to love and forgive you.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost