“YE WILL RECEIVE IT”
Saint Matthew 11. 12-15
The Festival of The Reformation [transferred] 30 October Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
From the days of John the Baptist, indeed, from way before the days of Saint Baptizer “old Adam” has punished us all with the lies of Satan! The deceiver spoke to the woman “you can be like God!” How noble, exciting, and heroic. Even Milton put a spin on the perfidy of the snake by making him quasi-bold and existential—a “self-made serpent!”
So the danger of even an historically significant event in the life of the Church, such as the Festival of The Reformation, is, that our sinful selves will always seek to turn it into an excuse for self-pride and self aggrandizing triumphalism; i.e. theology of glory!
Yes, Dr. Luther was courageous and fearless in the face of real physical danger—so too were his compatriots: Dr. Melanchthon, Fr. Bugenhagen and the rest. But, as in the celebration of any Saints Day, the emphasis is never on the merits of the Brother-in-Christ, no matter how brave and confessional.
The focus of your eyes, and your spiritual eyes, is on The Christ; “The Brave One,” and The Confession of The Truth, The Way, and The Life!
Polycarp like the martyrs before him, Peter, Paul, the Apostolic Band, Stephen, and the Old Testament titans suffered all for Christ and Christ’s Confession up to physical persecution and horrible suffering and death. The martyrs of the Coliseum all the way to the martyrs of corrupt papacies—Saint John Huss—R.I.P.—give us fine exemplars of Jesus’ own cruciform life and a testimony of how the Lord and The Holy Ghost do more than give us “what to say or how to say it” [Mt. 10.19] The Lord takes you all and gives you the wisdom IN CHRIST of Solomon; the strength IN CHRIST of Samson and David; the patience IN CHRIST of Job; and the tenacity, courage, and endurance IN CHRIST of Elias, Elisha, Esaias, John Baptizer, and the “12.” But it isn’t the kind of strength that puts you in the “center” of the color portrait standing cinematically like Luther at Worms “here I stand.” Again, we give Jesus all glory, laud, and honor…and humble thanks, that He raised up good Dr. Martin and solidified his backbone. But in those dark and lonely days when Luther was just like you…sinner in thought, word, and deed; unsure; despondent; fearful and wavering, It was The Righteous Reformer Christ Himself who saved the day, won the field, and rescued all the P.O.W.s.
Jesus’ Kingdom suffers violence, always has, and always will. The violence wrought against His own: His own Pastors, His own parishioners, is typological of that which would befell Him. The violence suffered by the first Shepherd Abel points to the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for you…reforming you into His Holy Body. The violence suffered by Samson, eyes put out, arms strapped out, dying under tons of rubble points to the real Strong Man who rips the gates off the false strong man Satan’s prison, Who lets His clear eyes be closed in death; Who is buried in a hillside under the rubble of the sins of the world and YOUR trespasses…reforming you by His Blood of cleansing. The violence suffered by Saint Elias, a true martyr in white, if not red, points to the real Holy Prophet of The Trinity, the one Who didn’t just go back to heaven in a whirlwind and fiery chariot, but Who first experienced the darkness at Calvary of the Father’s whirlwind of wrath against sin and then Ascended not in a chariot of angels but from Olivet in the sight of His appointed Apostles—ascended to fill all things most especially His Apostles mouths and hands that they might bind, lose, Baptize, Preach and Serve…that they might also suffer violence in Martyr deaths. Every beheading from John Baptizer to Paul; every crucifixion from Peter to Andrew, every lancing, clubbing, burning (from Polycarp to Jan Hus), and every exile, banishment and hiding from Athanasius, to Chrysostom, to Luther, points to the one Who was reforming all of you with His Sinless Flesh obeying your broken laws, His Perfect Will and Love being slapped, spit upon, whipped, beaten, punctured, nailed, asphyxiated, and speared to fulfill “all the prophets and law prophesied.”
And what did the prophets and law prophesy? Moses said the Lord would raise up one like unto himself to be a Prophet, Priest and King Redeemer. A new and better Joshua would come from Judah’s lineage, true Man born of the Blessed Virgin yet true God, Who would speak, talk, and teach the Trinity’s design—the Father’s will; Who would be King of a Graceful Kingdom of love and obedience but “not of this world;” and Who would be The great High Priest Who would offer not a lamb but Who would Himself be the Agnus Dei—what John said and which you repeat in the Communion liturgy: “behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.”
Reformation like formation/creation (“in the beginning was The Word…all things were made by Him” Jn.1), like Redemption (“Christ crucified, the power of God” 1Cor.1.23-24) like Sanctification is all Jesus “for you.”
We refute heresy when it confronts and attacks The Christ—whether from Rome, Geneva, or our own seminaries. We honor Luther, Walther, and all our forbears because they are earthly fonts into which Jesus has poured His gifts that they might be washed on to all of you; fed to all of you; preached to all of you.
We pray for Jesus’ imminent return and we desire the Kingdom of Glory to come quickly. We receive our Lord in His Word of release, in His cleansing of + regeneration, and in His reforming meal of Life Eternal.
On Reformation, on every Mass Day “he that hath ears” has Jesus preached into them…and “He that hears” comes to Table to eat His Body and Drink His Blood—Reformation. Here endeth the Gospel-
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of the Holy Ghost