“THE TREASURES OF HEAVEN ON THE ALTAR”
Saint Matthew 6. 16-21
Ash Wednesday: 18 February Anno + Domini 2015
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
You’re already a hypocrite so don’t think you can avoid having the Law condemn you as Pharisee just because you don’t fast—as a matter of “principle”…yeah, the principle of being an antinomian hater and despiser of proper piety and Church Catholic centuries of salutary discipline.
“Moreover when ye fast,” says Jesus. If God says “ye fast” than you know who it is who gets you to avoid the whole issue and be a gluttonous pig. It’s no coincidence that “Legion” the satanic demon horde inhabited the herd of doomed swine.
The Law of The Lord is clear: “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” What is this but a restatement of the twin tables of God’s commands: love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Love is giving; not getting. Love is fearing and trusting God above everything else. Love is putting your neighbor ahead of your own sinful greed, ego, lust, concupiscence, and desire to dominate. True obedience is love in action, that is, is Jesus Himself.
The problem is always you; you as sinner. It’s a twin dilemma. First you have to know you’re the problem. Second you have to know your actions are not the solution. And on top of all that you have to know that your actions, now, as someone who has been rescued and restored by Jesus, are still important and can be both helpful to you and especially to your neighbor.
God calls you to repentance as surely as He demanded it of the Ninevehites by the preaching of Saint Jonah.
Your sins are not that you don’t “do enough” (you never do what’s really demanded: love perfectly and sacrifice for others) but that you ignore God and despise others.
And I’m just not going to go over the Decalogue again or bring up any more examples of specific sinful behaviors. You’ll just “project” them on to other people and rationalize them away from yourselves because either a) you’re angry with me for some reason and don’t want to listen to ME… or b) you’ve justified yourselves over and against other sinners and “bad people” that you just “know” are so much worse than you are—yeah right.
God’s Law says what it says and you stand condemned: period! Equivocate all you want but you’re still getting older, sicker, more feeble, and closer to the grave. In the grave you’ll be wearing dust and the ash of decay whether you want to or not. The tomb comes for hypocrites and antinomians; democrats and republicans, co/wo goofballs and confessional Lutherans. REPENT. Stop disbelieving and believe. Your actions will follow your faith and confession. “The people of Nineveh believed God…and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth…the king sat in ashes.” Notice that the outward manifestations FOLLOWED the inner Spirit-worked conversions.
The Lord causes you to repent. Jesus and His Word of Law, by the work of The Holy Ghost, slay your blackened hearts with the piercings of the 10 Commandments. Your love does not protect your children or your parents. Jesus’ love does. Your love does not keep your dear family and friends from suffering or even from apostatizing. Jesus love does.
Jesus had His garments stripped off and, if not rent, gambled away. Jesus had His heart rended with grief and then with the sharp head of a spear.
Jesus repented not for His sins, for He was immaculate, sinless, and God in the Flesh; but for your sins He became sin-bearer—Paschal Lamb, The sin sacrifice—“the meat offering and drink offering.” Jesus had not ashes placed on His beautiful forehead but burial myrrh and a funeral shroud. Jesus’ Sacred Heart suffered and died for you because of His love and obedience to the Father and His love for you and your neighbors.
Fast during Lent. An empty stomach focuses the heart on matters even more important than meat and wine. Wear ash tonight, physically, and forever, spiritually, so that death is daily before your eyes that the Light of Light, The Way, The Truth, and The Life might be before your eyes. Your treasure is not inside of you in emotion or inside your brain in knowledge, wisdom and Gnostic “spirituality.” Your treasure is not in the strength of man’s legs (your works, accomplishments, possessions, and families) or in the strength of the horse…of science and technologies. Your strength is in the Word. Jesus is The Word, and He locates Himself for you tonight and every Mass in His absolving Word Inscripturated and in His absolving Word Sacramentally connected to His Supper.
Jesus places your Treasure—Himself—into your ears and on your tongues. His heart is given to you in Word, Flesh, and Blood.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost