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Archive for April 21st, 2017

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” St. John 12:  23-14

The seed of Jesus in the ground, risen from the dead, bore fruit both today, tomorrow and yesterday: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13: 8).  The Lord was bearing fruit through the hope of His coming, the promises of God fulfilled in Him, through out the time of the Old Testament, from the beginning, Genesis 1 and following. What is this fruit?  The saints in Christ. This is the roll call of faith in Hebrews 11.  So much of Hebrews is encouragement for discouraged brothers and sisters. The Epistle Reading for Today, from the Daily Lectionary:  Hebrews 12:  1-24. The writer calls it, “my letter of exhortation” (Hebrews 13:  22), and as it Scripture, for us as well:  

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12)

In the marathon of faith in Christ, Christ before us, Christ beside us, Emmanuel, God with us we are surrounded, “…so great a cloud of witnesses”, of the saints in the Old Testament.  In these last days (Hebrews 1:2), this cloud has more billows of the saints who have died in Christ.  We do not perfect our faith by our works but in His Word to do the good works He has prepared beforehand to be our way of life. The saints do not point to themselves but ever and forever to the Lord: Christ is risen!  This cloud is not a storm cloud, but a cloud filled with the dew of Baptism, a rain cloud, on this parched earth.  The saints are the Lord’s “Word cloud”. We do not have to go searching for extra-terrestrials to assert with faith and hope that is in Christ:  we are not alone.  The cloud of witnesses is praying us on, to lay aside “every weight, and sin which clings to closely”, confessing the weight and so praying to the Lord ahead of us and beside us.  

G. K. Chesterton, Roman Catholic convert, novelist, writer:

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

Reread the quote above and substitute “the Church”,  for “tradition”.  Even two or three are gathered together at the Lamb’s High Feast and there are more:  angels, archangels and all the company of heaven. We do not grow the Church, the Lord does.  No usher can count any congregation gathered by the Lord around His Altar.

Almighty and everlasting God,  You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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