Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον [Luke 1. 46b]

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Saint Matthew 18. 1-11
Saint Michael’s and All Angels’ Day: [transferred]
 28 September Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

   The question is “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” It was The Lords question to the “12.”  It’s the Lords question to your sinful “old Adam” as well. With false self-modesty you would never claim that you are the greatest. But deep down inside you do think you’re pretty special and that at least you’re a whole lot better than pagans, heathen, liberals, foreigners, Muslims, and homosexuals. No, no you’re not. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is no one who does good no not one. Repent. The intelligent man is not greater than the unlearned or even willingly ignorant man. The gifted woman is not greater than the unskilled woman.  The married couple with a bunch of wonderfull children are not greater than the single and solitary. The chaste are not greater than the immoral and the honest are not greater than the cheats. To be sure, The Lord wants, indeed commands you and everyone, to obey the 10 Commandments—all the time. It is sinful to harm your neighbor and sinful to refrain from helping your neighbor…which is everyone else! But His words as recorded by Saint Matthew are not about your new life of sanctified Grace and naturally flowing good works. He is talking about Holy Baptism. He is talking about Angels. He is talking about His soon-to-be “Apostles” and the nature of Grace.

    Jesus calls for a little child and sets the lad in the midst of them. I submit He sat the boy on His own lap and tenderly embraced him.  Even as infants are the templates for reception into the Kingdom of God so too are young children examples of innocent and trusting faith in the love of The Father.

   Christ is talking about Himself and giving Himself to the disciples, all disciples, through His Word. You don’t convert yourself. You don’t become “as little children” through an act of effort, prayer or discipline. All adoption is by way of gift. Thus, Christ does all the giving, the heavy-lifting, and the work. “Whoever thereof shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  This is Jesus.

   Earlier He had said: “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [Mt. 11.11]

   Jesus is the smallest, the littlest, the humblest One, for He veiled His Godhood and in His assumed Flesh and Blood from the Virgin obeyed the Law and did the work of God. From His small and meek birth at the manger to His unassuming first 30 years or so He dutifully kept the Commandments for all…for all of you who like to lord it over your neighbor and preen in the mirror of ego. Jesus is the little child, the Only Begotten Child of the Father, Who meekly let Himself be led to the Cross as the dumb Lamb of Sacrifice, not uttering a cry or complaint. Paul tells you what God the Spirit wants you to believe: “…the weakness of God is stronger than men,” and “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” [1 Cor. 1. 25, 27]  Not only Jesus as the “suffering servant” Messiah, the “one little word” that fells the devil and all his wiles, but also the small and normal “means of grace” which are despised by the largeness of the world and the largeness of your sinful selves. Not the mighty raging river Pharpar of Syria, but the Jordan healed Naaman. Not the manly and self-chosen decision of willpower, but the humble and despised font in a chancel. Not the wealth and works of “good deeds” but wine and bread that His self-same small word makes His true Body and real Blood. Not in numbers, and concert hall-sized structures of opulence, but in pews, pulpits and altars. Not with faux miracles and emotionally laden trickery but with preaching: “Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” [v.23]

   But pastor, what about the angels, what about Saint Michael the Archangel? These spirit creatures are Gods ministers and servants…His (mostly) invisible messengers and guardians of His flock. Holy Sheepdogs said George Herbert, or maybe the fingertips, as the Seraphim are the “fiery ones,” of the Holy Ghost. Post fall, post Eden, the angels are the “little ones” of God who are yet greater than all the demons and devils. They are “types” and pictures of what the “12” and their successors were to be and are to be.

   Do not despise children. Be fruitful and multiply. Protect life from natural conception to natural death. Do not neglect appreciation and thanksgiving for your guardian angels and be dutiful in praying Luther’s morning and evening prayers. Receive the little children, the pastors in your midst; receive and believe their catechesis and doctrine for it is simply their master’s words—the deposit of the faith “once delivered unto the saints” [Jude 3] Do not offend them by denying Christ or by apostatizing from your Baptismal Grace. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, for they when they preach the Word and when they administer the Sacraments they are like their angel “types” which behold the face of Christ’s Father which is in heaven. For when you receive through Faith, by Grace, the Apostle of Jesus you receive Jesus…you receive the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

   I invite you now once again to dine with your Messiah, and with Saint Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and all the heavenly host.

In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Saint Matthew 9. 9-13
SAINT MATTHEW: 21 September Anno + Domini 2014
Fr. Jay Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

   Levi was special. This tax collector, this publican, was special because Jesus made it so!

   You all are unique for the same reason.

   No one is forgotten…no one is ever forgotten. No Christian is ever abandoned or forsaken. You have The Lord’s Word on it…on you…and in you. Now that’s a pledge you can live with—forever!

   A popular Facebook meme accurately states: “Though Communism is 100% ineffective at making everyone wealthy, it IS 100% effective at making everyone poor and miserable.” Yes! And isn’t that exactly what the devil does?  Communism is Satanic because it is simply the organized “fanning the flames” of envy—greed—laziness—theft—and concupiscence! As every person by fallen nature is an “enthusiast” (a “schwermerai” as Luther puts it in the Smalcald Articles) so too everyone is a spiritual communist by nature. This is why Protestants hate the Saints and why ignorant Lutherans too eschew giving honor and respect to the Saints. Repent!  You can’t make yourself bigger or more important by avoiding the greatness of Saint Matthew. To be sure, he is only one of 12 human beings ever to live that can be called both Disciple of Jesus and Apostle of The Lord Christ—both designations and ordinations the result of God’s own calling. Hallelujah! Levi is only one of four humans to be supernally blessed to be called Evangelist—i.e. Gospeller! Hallelujah!

   And the joy of the Good News is that Levi is only Saint Matthew because Jesus made him so…the same way He has made you Saint “ - - - .”   “[Jesus] saw a man…sitting at the receipt of custom, and He saith unto him, follow Me.” You and Levi share the same Father, God the 1st Person, and the same Mother, Holy Mother Church. You and your fellow publican both started off as collaborators—both to secular Baals (whether Rome, America, or just plain SELF) and Satan as well. Levi and you, traitors like your Father Adam.

   Levi collected money that was not his. He probably “took a cut” of it as well, as was common. He used authority not his to ‘lord it over’ others. This is YOU to a “t.”  Repent!   

   Levi could and did repent because Jesus went to him, found this lost lamb, and placed His Word into him.  The Christ does the work and then gives the benefit to His brethren. The Word works. The Gospel gives one what is required: “repent and believe;” gives the faith to the recipient to receive the Christ…and then to repent…i.e. “to follow.”

    Though Christ came to call all to repentance, though He died for all and desires all to believe, He made a point, and still does, to come and associate with, be with, get down in the dirt with, SINNERS. Jesus embraces the miserable, where they are. Jesus took all that misery to the Tree and let it kill Him.

    Yes He teaches and catechizes…that is, He gives His very words from His mouth.  His Words always give His Person and Work: “God of God, light of light, Who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made Man; and was crucified also for us; He suffered and was buried.”

   But, how would you know this were it not for THE WORD giving His Words to be preached, “Gospelled,” and then recorded for all time and all people in the New Testament?  Levi was given that task, that joy. What does Levi, named Matthew, tell the Church Catholic?  Saint Matthew writes the first of the Gospels so that Christ might always remain in your midst—where two or three are gathered.  The Gospel of Matthew is the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of The Holy Spirit that guaranteed Matthew wrote what God wanted written, and of The Father. This Good News is not primarily meant for personal study and reflection, although it is salutary so to immerse oneself in the Word, always. But rather, this text is the Church’s Text. It is the Person and Work of He Who is the Baptizer, Preacher, Absolver, Celebrant, and Food.  It is that which gathers you all at the Mass every week.

    What is today all about? It’s not about Matthew but about Jesus. Jesus coming to sit with people just like Matthew, people who are fellow publicans (cheats, traitors, money-obsessed, liars, and idolaters) people just like you and me in our sinful selves. When you grumble and look down your Jewish nose at others who aren’t as “good” as you think you are, then you are Pharisees. Stop it! Grow up into the maturity of The Faith. And even at those times when you’re not the Pharisee you are the sinful tax-collector. Stop it! Grow up into the generosity of He Who Redeemed you: “not with gold or silver but with His Holy Precious Blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” 

   Be what you are. Admit what you are. It’s okay to be sick if you’re in the best hospital in the cosmos. It’s okay to have the disease if you’re in the presence of the Physician Who has the cure—Who IS The Cure!  Miserable in, with, and under sin look around and hear the Gospel “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, for I Am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Jesus has mercy this morning for He Is Mercy.  He was Sacrifice, the Lamb slain in your stead. He is now not roasted lamb but The Bread from Heaven in, with, and under the Bread of Eucharist. He is The Righteous One and He calls you to Table—not the operating table but the Banquet Table. Join Matthew and Mary, Peter and Paul. Join Publicans and Sinners and luxuriate and joy in Mercy.

In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Saint John 12. 20-33
HOLY CROSS DAY: 14 September Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP

In The Name + of Jesus

   You were conceived and born in sin. You are a sinning creature by nature. The reason you age, break down, get sick, lose loved ones, and die yourselves is that you are sinners. If you don’t like this kind of talk and reject it—and reject the messenger—that’s just too bad; it doesn’t change the reality. You can shake your fist at the sky when it’s raining or at the equation of 2 plus 2 equals four, but that doesn’t change the facts of WHAT IS!

   According to post-Nicene historians such as Socrates Scholasticus, the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, travelled to Palestine in 326, founding churches and establishing relief agencies for the poor. Historians Gelasius of Caesarea and Rufinus claimed that she discovered the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to have been used at the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves. It is said a miracle revealed which of the three was the True Cross.

Many churches have claimed to possess fragmentary remains of the True Cross. Their authenticity is not accepted universally by those of the Christian faith and the accuracy of the reports surrounding the discovery of the True Cross is rightfully questioned. Nonetheless Lutherans, as Catholic Christians of the West may still honor and respect Helena for her piety, charity, and interest in Saintly artifacts.

   But though the wooden beams upon which Our Lord purchased forgiveness for the world seem to be lost forever, it was never the wood as wood, the cross as a cross that had any worth or merit—hence the ornamental “barren” crosses—without the corpus—our woefully inadequate to express the Historic lections for this morning’s Mass. The pole was not barren but had a brass serpent. Paul didn’t peach the cross-beams of “four-by-fours” but of the God/Man hanging on the tree. The Lord Himself says the glory is when [He] is “lifted up from the earth.”

   You are the New Israel, the Church of the Living God, yet you spend much of your days whining like Desert Hebrews and complaining like spoiled children: “and the people spake against God and against Moses.”  Whether you refrain from openly cursing the Lord’s Name or not, you do not invoke it as you should in prayer, praise and thanksgiving. You do not Honor His Name in your actions—your lack of pious practices—or in your attendance to His Word. You are more often than not like Martha of Bethany and not like Saint Mary.  And you do speak against God’s modern day Moseses!  When Christ speaks of His Holy Office of under-shepherds “he that receiveth you receiveth Me” [Mt. 10.40], which Melanchthon quotes in the Symbols, He is also saying that those who reject His apostles reject Him and His Father. And that’s what selfish prodigal sons do isn’t it: “for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.” [Nu. 21.5]   We don’t put the Lord above all things. We don’t love and serve our neighbor. We don’t bridle our tongues and rend our lustful hearts. We don’t daily meditate on The Word and daily drown the old Adam.  We dance around the golden calves of mammon and self. We bow our knees not to Christ in genuflection but to our own feelings and intellectual superiorities.

   But the “hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.”  The Mass has arrived and the Holy Spirit has, by Jesus the Word, assembled you all once again in this sheepfold.  You are not old Adam when you are IN JESUS.  In Christ you are NEW ADAM for Jesus is The NEW ADAM.  He is the true Israel and you are, IN HIM, the Children of Israel.  In His Holy Cross which is the Crucifix and not the bare wood, you have the content of The Faith and the content of your forgiveness of sin(s). In that Body and Blood once upon the tree, and now in the font, in the Word, in the Absolution, and in the Chalice, you have heaven, salvation, life, and peace which passeth understanding.

   The “certain Greeks” were right to “[come] up to worship at the feast.” They were looking for the consolation of Israel along with believing Jews such as Philip and Andrew.  Desiring the Old Testament Passover was good because it pointed to the Cross—the Crucifix—the Christ.  Their most famous request is forever on the lips of pastors to be spoken right before the homily commences: “Sir, we would see Jesus.”

   And where does the homily direct you?  Where did Philip and Andrew usher those Greeks, those fellow Gentile believers?  They went straightaway to Jesus and let the Word Himself show forth salvation.

   God the Son speaks not of cleansing lepers, walking on water, raising Lazarus, being Transfigured between Moses and Elias, conquering the devil during the 40 days, or even of keeping the Law perfectly for 33 years…though all of these things were necessary and essential in Christ’s mission of Redemption.  But no; Jesus talked about the Holy Cross—the bloody execution instrument of the Crucifix.

   “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  Christ is talking of His suffering, death, entombment…and His Resurrection.  “This preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto [you] which are saved it is the power of God.”  Your power is not in your arms and lungs or in your family and friends. Your power is not in your nation, financial portfolio or vocational skills. Your power is not in your good feelings and intentions or in your strivings. Your power is not in your wisdom and high I.Q.s.   He destroys the wisdom of the wise. Jesus preached His crucifixion; so did the Apostle; so did Moses by the “type” of the brazen snake on the pole, and so does the Church today!

   The serpents which killed were made a sign, an ensign, a banner of victory. By placing them on the pole, portraying them as defeated—death was mocked and captivity was lead captive.  So too the true serpent Satan was in reality killed and defanged of all his real power and venom when Christ Jesus took the results of Satan, the world, and your old Adam—i.e. sin, upon Himself, becoming sin for you, becoming like unto a worm, or a pierced snake, for you. Christ on the Cross is now your Crucifix life, form, ensign and banner of victory.

   “He was lifted up from the earth” and in the joyous Gospel words that proclaim this triumph He draws all men unto Himself.  His Glory is in His laying down His life for His friends, for you, and for His enemies as well—the world. The unbelieving Jews, then and now, will reject Him as an insufficient “sign.”  The unbelieving Greeks, then and now, will reject Him as not an intellectually rigorous and philosophically wise enough leader. “But we preach Christ crucified…the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

   Your old nature wants more but your old nature is crucified and dead IN CHRIST.  He loved you so much that He lost His life for you.  He hated your damnation so much that He suffered the pain of hells damnation in your stead so that would inherit paradise. This is His hour. The Father now glorifies you as He Glorifies the Crucified and Risen One. The Holy Cross—the Crucifix—today is lifted high among the Eagles: “behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”

In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, September 6, 2014

12th Sunday after TRINITY (2014): Homily

Saint Mark 7. 31-37
12th Sunday after Trinity: 7 September Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

    “In the beginning was The WORD…and the Word was God.” [Jn. 1.1] “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God said ‘let there be light’” [Ge. 1. 2 – 3]

    The Holy Trinity departed from being all and came to create the coasts of all the cosmos. The Lord came to the great sea and divided it from the land and placed a garden in the midst towards the east.

    He who has ears to hear let him hear. Make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.

    One cannot speak and sing unless one can hear. One cannot hear if one is dead. One cannot hear if one has dead ears—suffocated and stuffed with ‘old Adam wax;’ impacted shut with “I.” 

    Saint Mark’s recorded events are really all about Holy Baptism aren’t they? This pericope appointed for the 12th Sunday after Trinity is all about Jesus coming and claiming one of His own lost sheep—a lamb so terrified and tied down by the deafness of sin and unbelief that no bleating of pain much less Chants of Kyrie could be emitted from a bound and captured tongue!

    Jesus departs from the areas of Tyre and Sidon which are north of his home area of Galilee. The word Saint Mark uses is oriwn which literally means “region” but which so felicitously the Holy Spirit has the English Divines translate as “coasts” in the Authorized Version. Coasts always signify water…rivers, lakes, oceans, and Baptismal Fonts.

   One doesn’t choose or decide to hear any more than one chooses to be born or to have parents. It is given. It is a gift. It is Grace. Christ is the Giver of all good things and it is very good to be able to hear. One might have been able for 33 years to actually see Jesus with the eyes—if one were in the right place and the right time. But one, everyone, the world, can HEAR Jesus through His Words of Holy Scripture and through His Word made flesh in Supper and in Holy + Washing!

   You are all broken and wasting away because of sin. The wages of sin is death. Your uncleanness in thought and deed comes from the residual deafness still inside you. Your sins with words (cursing, swearing, lying, gossiping, and killing) come from a tap-rooted muteness anchored in the soil of sinful self.

    The deaf mute is like the palsied cripple who was brought to Jesus. The lame man didn’t come to The Lord but rather was carried on a “death bed,” which became a resurrection pallet when Christ touched him with the Word of Life. That man was carried by four friends, four believers, four Baptismal Sponsors emblematic of the Four Evangelists themselves. Likewise the man with the impediment of speech was brought by his believing and trusting friends, his own Godparents “and they bring unto Him one that was deaf…”

    Jesus did for him what He did for you in the Sacrament of Water and Word. To be adopted means one is pulled out from a world of no connection and no family and placed into a NEW FAMILY and new body, identity and name. The Church, Jesus’ family is the “ecclesia” which means “out of” the masses. “And He took him aside from the multitude.” Jesus, to be sure, healed this man from his physical brokenness by giving him perfect hearing and perfect speaking. But what Christ actually did was that He Baptized the man into Himself. Jesus made the man His own brother, child, friend, and disciple.

   What once happened to you…when you were a little sinful pagan? You were bathed first (hopefully) in the Word of Christ for 9 months as your parents sat with the “in-utero-you” in Jesus’ “mouth house”…your ever-forming ears hearing the distant Gospel echoes and rumblings of Hallelujahs and Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. You were bathed in His Body and Blood as your mother Communed on the very flesh of God in The Supper.  And then…brought, carried,  “and they bring unto Him” you were presented at the coasts of a font where Jesus sighed over you with love and affection and bathed you with Water and Word…word from His mouth, Holy spittle of Salvation: Ephphatha. You were opened for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost…who brought you more Jesus…Who made His Father your Father. With The Spirit making you His temple your speaking was now plain for your sins were loosed as well as your tongue. Your singing was beautiful and you’ve been publishing it, with your fellow Royal Priests, ever since. He does all things well. He makes the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the unbeliever to believe, the lonely to be placed into a Family, the hurting to be comforted, the dead to be raised to Immortality, the naked to be clothed and the hungry to be fed.

   Your ears have been opened, cleared, cleansed, sterilized and sanctified by the Blood and Water, by the fingers of Jesus. Do not place the wrong things into them.  Repent from hearing evil and listening to false doctrine. Fill your ears with the Church’s song, Psalter, and prayers. Your tongue has been freed from the devil’s muzzle by Jesus. He has given you the gift of tongues—i.e. the New Testament of His Person and His Work, for you and the rest of the flock. Repent of the things that have come out of our mouth unfitting of a Christian. Confess Boldly Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sins and speak lovingly and hopefully to all your neighbors—to all the world. You speak and wear The Gospel on your lips which flows from The Gospel in your new heart of Christ.

   Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by The Word of God.  O Lord, open Thou my lips and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.

   Recently there was a beautiful and magical YouTube video that made the rounds on Facebook amongst many confessional Lutherans. There was a short video of a little 18 month old boy who, after being born deaf, heard words for the first time. He was naturally caterwauling and fidgeting while the physician fine tuned the exterior sound device connected to the implant…but the minute the implant was turned on and he heard his mother’s voice for the first time an indescribable smile came instantly to his face and his whole being lit up…yeah, it’s just like that only infinitely better. You may “fall asleep” in Christ with Bach’s Messiah playing or  maybe with your Pastor and friends singing the Nunc Dimittis at your bedside one last time…but, BAPTIZED INTO JESUS, you will wake to Christ’ smiling eyes speaking into your ever-Ears “Well Done Good and Faithful Servant; I love you, welcome Home!” And you will respond and speak plain: “My Lord and My God.”

In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost

Monday, September 1, 2014

Another Attempt at Hymn Writing

   For those on the historic 1-year lectionary here is a short hymn for next Sunday (the 12th Sunday after Trinity; Saint Mark 7. 31-37)  - - -   JW


Words: Jay W. Watson, 2014
Tune: Neander, Joachim Neander, 1680

8 7 8 7 7 7

Leaving Sidon comes the Savior
Through the coasts and to the sea
Mute delivered broken sinner
Hoping that His touch would free
Lord with victim stepped apart
Fingers spit Redeemer’s start

Touching sighing Word thus proclaimed
Ears to hear and speech to ring
Though imploring silence maintained
Gospel can but shout and sing
The crowd beyond all amazed
Chanting His merciful Grace

Bringing heaven in this service
Christ for you in bread and wine
His forgiveness heals deafness
Paschal Word on which you dine
In the bloody Lamb baptized
Jesus now Ephphatha cries