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Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16: 24 (NIV)

Commentary by St. Ambrose of Milan:

The sea is holy Scripture which has within it profound meanings and the mysterious depths of the prophets. Into this sea many rivers have entered. Delightful and clear are these streams. These fountains are cool, springing up into life everlasting.”‘ There, too, are “pleasant words, like honeycomb,” and courteous conversations which water souls with the sweetness of moral commands. The streams of holy Scripture are diverse; you know that which you should drink from first, second, and last.

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The New Testament Reading for this Day in the Daily Lectionary: The Parable of the Ten Minas

11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

Commentary:  The parable is prompted by the expectation that the kingdom of God would appear right then and there.  Our Lord taught this parable in between inviting Himself to Zacchaeus’ home and the Triumphal Entry.  In the former He is accused of eating with sinners.  In the latter He will die for sinners, atoning for their sins.  In the former, He is the King at the table of a sinner, in the latter, He enters as King in lowly pomp to die.  Verse 11 is clear that the crowds supposed that the glorious Kingdom was about to appear. This parable in the Lord’s response.  In the parable Jesus is the nobleman who “…went into a far country”.  The “far country” put me in mind of the famous soliloquy by Hamlet who is contemplating suicide and so death and wonders,

who would burdens bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will

Hamlet would rather bear the burdens of this life than to go to that “undiscover’d country”, from which “no traveler returns”.  Jesus from chapter 9 has been on the journey to Jerusalem for one purpose: to go into that “undiscover’d country”, not bearing His burdens, for He has no sin and so no death, but ours, to the grave.  He has returned.  And gist of the parable is that He will return again, this time from heaven, to give an accounting of what we did with His minas.  What do  the “minas”, these silver coins, signify?   The servants in the parable are clear, “…your  mina has made ten minas more…”.  Note:  it was not the servant that increased the mina, but the mina did, that is, the Lord’s utter gift of Word and Sacrament, His riches, that is, the “unsearchable riches”(Ephesians 3:8) of His grace for burdened sinners.   His grace is not to be hidden away (verse 20).  His light is not to be hidden away (St. Matthew 5:16). Those who mock and despise the nobleman, the only Noble Man ever to walk upon the earth, and His grace,  it would have been better for Sodom, Tyre and Sidon than those who reject His disciples bearing the minas of His grace! (Luke 10:12;Luke 10:  14).

Even at the Ascension, the disciples are still wondering about an eternal kingdom out of this world of sin and death (Acts 1: 6-8) .  It won’t happen, and such ‘eternal kingdoms’ have been tried again and again.  The Lord will return and in the meantime, people need to hear of so great a salvation of the Lord who died and rose, a kingdom like no other on earth!  He rules not to end life but to give His.  His  rule appears most unexpectedly: by His forgiveness as He is risen and ascended.

The riches of His grace, His Atonement, His paradise will be enlivened with the fire of the Holy Spirit.   

O God, Who vast pleased to send on Thy disciples the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, in the burning fire of Thy love, grant to Thy people to be fervent in the unity of faith; that evermore abiding in Thee, they may be found both steadfast in faith and active in work ; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages.

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Note about the word, “Maundy”:  It is derived from the Latin “mandatum”, or commandment (as in “mandate”).  On this 1st of the 3 days of our salvation, the Lord Jesus gave 2 commandments.

 1.  When He washed His disciples feet He said, A new commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you.  It is written in Leviticus that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, so what is new in the new commandment is, “…as I have loved you”.  In that way we love each other and show forth His love to all.

 2. When He broke the bread and gave the Cup, He gave us His body and blood with the words, “Do this”.  The Holy Communion is not optional, but a command.  In Jewish tradition the 2 candles on the dining table represent:  Command and Remembrance.  Yes! “Do this, in remembrance of Me.”As we are serve one another the Lord serves us His Body and Blood till He comes again in glory.  His Church is called to serve the Dinner:  the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Mass. We only can love as He first loved us and this is by the Holy Communion with His Body and Blood.  A blessed Triuudum!

Triduum:  The Three Days

Holy (Maundy) Thursday

COLLECT OF THE DAY

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS

Exodus 24:3-11

Psalm 116:12-19

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

St. Mark 14:12-26

From a Sermon by Dr. C. F. W. Walther, first President of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod:  

The apostle [Paul] wishes to say: Consider, beloved Christians, that when you receive the blessed cup and the blessed bread, each one partakes of the body and blood of Christ; they are both common to all of you. You come into body-and-blood fellowship with one another. For just as many grains become one bread, so in the Holy Supper, you, though you are many, become one Body, one mass, because you are partakers of the one bread and with it one and the same body and blood of Christ.

Because of the presence and participation of the body of Christ, the Holy Supper is a meal of the most intimate fellowship and, therefore, at the same time, the highest love-meal. Just as fervent love is demanded, so fervent love is delivered. We all come together, as children of the same family, to the table of our common, heavenly Father. As great as the distinction between communicants in civic life may be, in the Holy Supper all distinctions evaporate. We are all the same, in that we each eat the same earthly and heavenly bread and drink the same earthly and heavenly drink. In this Meal, the subject and his king, the slave and his master, the beggar and the rich, the child and the old man, the wife and the husband, the simple and the learned, truly all communicants stand as the same poor sinners and beggars, hungry and thirsty for grace. Although one may appear in a rough apron while another in velvet and satin, adorned with gold and pearls, when they depart, all take with them that for which they hunger and thirst: Christ’s blood and righteousness as their beauty and glorious dress. No one receives a better food and better drink than the other. All receive the same Jesus, and with Him, the same righteousness.

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Gospel Lesson:  St. John 2: 13-25, The Cleansing of the Temple

Sermon Text:  verse 21:  “But he was speaking about the temple of his body.”

When our Lord refers to himself as “this Temple”, note that it is not “this body”.   The Temple is one in which the Lord dwells, so Jesus said, “this Temple”. Jesus is the Temple and in three days He raised it up.” 1 Cor. 5: 1: For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. that is, eternal, durable, forever (Mark 14: 58).  When Jesus was on trial for His crucifixion, one of the accusations was quite alike to today’s Gospel, We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’  (Mark 14: 58).  Again in the night of betrayal, when the disciples did not understand Jesus’ pronouncement He was leaving, Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23  And again that same night in response  to the same apostolic fear, the Lord said to them, and us:  “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2  .  The Apostle Peter wrote to the congregations of the diaspora, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”(1 Peter 2: 5). The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12: 27The apostle Paul wrote to the super spiritual Corinthians, who were committing the sin of heresy  and the heresy of sin, they  were so spiritual what they did in the body did not matter, such as hooking up with prostitutes: 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:17  No should be a temple, no would be a temple, no you got to be a temple, no you better be a better Christian so you are the Lord’s temple, not you should be the Church,  it was the flat out indicative statement of God’s grace:   you ARE  THAT TEMPLE; you are the  Body of Christ. 

For the first centuries of the Church, the Church, the Temple of the Lord’s Body, was being built all over the Roman empire and without actual church buildings.  The Altar was there, as was the Baptismal font and the pulpit without the physical objects, for the physicality of the Church was there:  This is my body, this is my blood, as you are the body of Christ, you are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Temple was built without human hands but for human hands to receive His  Sacraments, hands lifted or fold in prayer, hands to help the neighbor in need. On a Sunday we don’t go to Church, we go as His Church to His Word and Sacraments, to the Divine Service. 

When Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, the King and the people of  Israel brought into the Holy of Holies the Ark of the Covenant for within the Ark was the covenant, the 10 Commandments.  The boundaries of the Temple are love of God and love of neighbor as detailed in the 10 commandments.  The cleansing of the Temple is confession and absolution, the sacrament of  repentance for what we have done and left undone in thought, word and deed.  The word Lent means “spring”, Lent is the springtime of the Church and homes used to have spring cleaning. The Jews wanted to know by what sign Jesus was cleansing the temple.  “But was there a need for a sign before putting a stop to their evil practices and freeing the house of God from such dishonor? Was not the fact that he had such great zeal for the house of God the greatest sign of his virtue?”  When we go the doctor we are patients, but when it comes to trespass and evil, we must be impatients.  Zeal for His Father’s House consumed Jesus, it ate Him up.  It would consume Him. On another occasion the Lord was asked by what sign He was speaking and working, An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”  That is the sign of the Cross, as Jonah was in belly of the beast for 3 days and 3 nights for not preaching God’s Word, Jesus would die, descend into hell itself because He preached God’s Word, the Father’s House, the Temple.  The Temple in Jerusalem was for the sacrifice of animals for the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus cast out all the sacrificial animals, for behold, He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  His Temple is His sacrificed once and for all for the Temple for us.  He is the Temple not made by human hands who cleanses the Temple. 

As for those Jews who believed in Him because of His signs, not for Himself, for what He was offering: Himself for the life of the world:  His body, the fullness of the Godhead pleased to dwell in Christ Jesus.   The Old Adam knows how to look out his own interests. Jesus knows what is in man.   There are many in the Church who look after their own interests and not for the interests of Christ and the brothers and sisters. When Christians no longer  love the Temple the Lord raised up from the dead, from our ashes and sin and sorrow, and the resurrection is  grace, sheer gift, that is, the Lord Himself,  then people are busy making new blueprints of the way they think His House should be:  a mall, a bank, a club.  Then the Lord’s House is reduced to a house of cards or a house of trade and that is plainly wrong. 

The Lord has called and baptized His Temple, us, to look out for the interests of Jesus Christ and others (Philippians 2: 4 and 21).   Jesus did not look to His own interests, but in perfect submission, in perfect islam, as only true Man and true God could perfectly submit, He saved us and will save us.  The Law is perfect and only the One who is perfect perfectly submitted to the Law and fulfilled it.  He alone revives us, cleanses us. This is our Father’s home…from which there are many a runaway son or daughter.  The Lord cast out trade from the Temple, but He does not drive sinners in by a whip.  False prophets, evangelists and christs do so drive by a whip of their own religious rules and accompanied  by the magnetism of their legalistic personas. See Mohammed. It is spiritual terror.  The Law of God can whip us into external shape;   but the draw of His perfect sacrifice that alone draws all men to Himself. His Cross is our Passion, we preach Christ and Him crucified, no longer is the Law of God the center of the Temple, Christ is the holy of holies. We need to be eaten up by what is going on in the Church and that is why we left to form the mission. St. Augustine’s encouragement is for us today:

“Let the zeal for God’s house consume every Christian wherever he or she is a member…. In your house you busy yourself in trying to prevent things going wrong. In the house of God, where salvation is offered, ought you to be indifferent? … Do you have a friend? Admonish him gently; a wife or husband? Admonish them too…. Do what you are able, according to your station.”

His draw is His Cross, and His Cross is the sign, the three days, of the Passover of the Lamb of God, of His love and mercy for the life of the world, your life, and His passion is our passion. “..whoever wants to call upon God, regardless of where he may be in the world, must turn his face heavenward to Christ, not to Jerusalem or Mecca or a saint no matter how spiritual, and thus come to Christ, the real and true temple. For Christ is the proper mercy seat (Romans 3: 25), with whom sheer mercy, love and kindness is found.” (adapted from Luther’s sermon on today’s Gospel reading)

 

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St. Mark 8:  “And He began to teach them that the Son of  Man must suffer many things…” 

One of the words that has become used a whole lot more in the computer age is “template”. 

noun:  1..  pattern, mold, or the like, usually consisting of a thin plate of wood or metal, serving as a gauge or guide in mechanical work

 2. anything that determines or serves as a pattern; a model 

Jesus is pointing His disciples to His Cross looming in the future and in the distance.  The Gospel of His prophecy of His death and resurrection will be the template of salvation. His cross, His suffering many things is the things of God, God’s mind and His mind is made-up:  He saved you and will. 

His Word is the template for your salvation, the joyous word of your forgiveness in Jesus Christ, the way of the Cross is the baptismal path.  And in the way that is just and so justifies, makes us right by faith.  This Gospel, in fact all the  Gospel, written and taught and preached and administered in the Sacraments is the template of His Cross.  I know I have pointed out before the floor plans of the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe and America is cross-shaped.  The cross is the template of the Church, His Temple, His Body.  This is the template of each life within Christ’s Body.  In today’s Gospel is the precise moment in which the Lord began to teach His suffering:   rejected, killed, buried and risen. 

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Our Lord asked a rhetorical question which begs no answer because it is self-evident that the question itself is  the answer:  when a man wants the whole world, he will lose his own soul in forfeit to get it. Satan certainly knows the Faustian bargain which is no deal!   We all get it.  Even folks who are not “religious” or spiritual get it.  We see it played out, repeatedly, in the courts of public media and opinion. It is the Faustian bargain.  Losing one’s soul for gaining the whole world is Satan’s real deal and the soul lost is hell…or even a piece of that pie. This is piously lamented as the succession of sports figures, movie and television stars, politicians and the like rise and fall is played out, shaking heads in self-righteous indignation thinking Oh it’s not me.  Yet, we know it can be. 

 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:  33.   Jesus triumphs over Satan and the world. He teaches them He must suffer many things…the must is a must, it is a divine necessity. Why?!  Sin must be accounted for and the judgment of it.  God is the just judge.  And the suffering begins almost in the next verse:  His own disciple, Peter, who had just confessed Him as the Christ, rebuked the Lord. Rejected, killed, shamed is no way for a Messiah to act!  You are thinking like men that a glorious escape, which leaves iniquity, unaccounted. Therefore, Jesus suffers the torment of temptation from a disciple, a friend. He must for He must save Peter, you, and me. He has, you can count on that more than anyone can count on the stock market or the weather forecast. 

What is the world?  Answer:  it is God’s good creation, pulsating with His life and love.  Nevertheless, the “world” in the hands of  man bent on being God as Satan promised, the world became something else:

“In this creation, life is received in faith as the sheer unmerited gift of God and then shared as freely as it is given in love for the neighbor. If you take creation, subtract faith, and love from it, the remainder is “the world.” Take away faith and love and the creation becomes clueless about God and itself and ends up looking to itself and when it “gets religion”, as the saying goes, the world makes itself into a god. “A god,” says Luther “is whatever you look to as the source of your good.” In addition, what creation, minus faith and love, looks to for its good is itself. And just so, creation becomes “the world”. The “world”, theologically is the creation bent on being its own god.” (Pr. Louis Smith). 

“I’ve given you everything, the best years of my life” “I’ve scrimped and saved and what thanks I do I get?”  “Oh, this is to die for” And each one of us will but that is not the final chapter. 

God entered fully into the world, the Greek word for world is cosmos.  As in “cosmetics”.  The world apart from God, its Creator, knows how to look good, enticing, well, tempting; it is said we are “self-made” men and women.  But it is death. We look for easier and less astounding ways, the easy way out, but that is not just.  A trade-off, If I do this, then you will HAVE it all, that is the template of the world, and that is bartering, dealing not saving grace. God’s law kills us with that truth concerning iniquity.  Thinking the things of man, like Peter, our minds are made up. We want it all and want it now. You can, says someone, for a price, a steep price that looks like a deal at the start. However, the price is the soul.  Then one is sold. What can a man do?   For what can a man give in return for his soul? Another question, which is its own answer, a man can do nothing.  However, God can and has.  Bought for a price, a steep price.  What’s teh price, as the Elizabethans would say, “God’s blood”.  He became sin and died, a must.  The template of His Cross and Resurrection is not only seen but also first heard, Scripture is summed up by the Catechism and for us today, look at the back of the bulletin please, the 2nd article of the Creed:

What does this mean?  Answer:  I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.  He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and delivered me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death; in order that I may be wholly His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

This template is our daily life in Jesus Christ and it is baptismal and related to the 4th Chief part of the Catechisms, especially this Q and A:

What does such baptizing with water signify?–Answer.It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?–Answer.  St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6We are buried with Christ by Baptism into deaththatlike as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Another Elizabethan, Shakespeare wrote:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.”

The brave in Christ Jesus do die many deaths and will taste of life forever:  Jesus Christ.  Dying and rising is our wet walk in Baptism and not to be ashamed of it, but  proud of His love which has loved us to the end and will forever. His blood teaches us we are His.    St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York: unmistakably a cross, a cross in the midst of Vanity Fair, unashamed. Around it buildings tower over that church.  Cathedrals have spires:  and the cross points us to heaven. And as tall as the skyscrapers are in NYC round about finally only point to themselves.  Many of the cathedrals have at the entrance a baptismal font:  the way we enter and are His people.  Our cruciform lives pointing others to heaven:  Jesus died and rose for you.  Plainly.

 

 

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Almighty God, we praise You for the service of Philipp Melanchthon to the one, holy catholic, and apostolic Church, in the renewal of its life in fidelity to Your Word and promise. Raise up in these gray and latter days faithful teachers and pastors, inspired by Your Spirit, whose voices will give strength to Your Church and proclaim the ongoing reality of Your kingdom; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Bio:  Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a brilliant student of the classics and a humanist scholar. In 1518 he was appointed to teach along with Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg. At Luther’s urging, Melanchthon began teaching theology and Scripture in addition to his courses in classical studies. In April of 1530, Emperor Charles V called an official meeting between the representative of Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, hoping to effect a meeting of minds between two opposing groups. Since Luther was at that time under papal excommunication and an imperial ban, Melanchthon was assigned the duty of being the chief Lutheran representative at this meeting. He is especially remembered and honored as the author of the Augsburg Confession, which was officially presented by the German princes to the emperor on June 25, 1530, as the defining document of Lutheranism within Christendom.  After the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, the papal church wrote a response to it, the Confutation.  Once again, Melanchthon was called upon to write a defense of the Augsburg Confession. The Augsburg Confession and The Apology of the Augsburg Confession are the first two confessions in The Book of Concord (1580). Melanchthon died on April 19, 1560.

Reflection:   He was Greek and Hebrew scholar.  Philip Melanchthon is an unlikely saint. He taught Luther the Greek of the New Testament (Koine or common Greek).  Like Luther,  Melanchthon was a professor and at the risk of profiling the man, he looks like an egghead professor.  The Lord’s saints are certainly not uniform but they are united in the one true Faith to confess Jesus is Lord.  Melanchthon was clear in the Augsburg Confession regarding the article by which the Church stands or falls:

Article I, Of God:  Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term “person” they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself…

Article IV, Of Justification:  Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins.  This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

Professor Melanchthon demonstrates that the Faith confessed in the Nicene Creed is the justifying faith in what Christ has done for us in His death.  The faith is Biblical, confessional, evangelical and catholic.  If we could be justified, made right by our own “strength, merits, or works”, there would be no need for Jesus Christ.  Justifying our selves is the daily grind of news, op-ed pieces, talk show ‘confessions’, and the like and it is pitiful. It is as pitiful as Adam covering his shame with the sham clothes of fig leaves.  A saying that made the rounds a few years back was, “You can run but you can’t hide”,is truthful.  The Old Adam knows that.  Here is Jesus, true God and true man, searching as a father for his lost son, as a shepherd for the one lost sheep, as woman looking for her lost coin,  loving us to our death and raising us up by His indestructible life (Hebrews 7: 15-17).  His Passion is our passion as we approach Lent this week.  

“O Spirit, who did once restore The church that it might yet recall The bringer of good news to all: Breathe on your cloven church once more That in these gray and latter days There may be those whose life is praise, Each life a high doxology Unto the holy Trinity.”

(O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth, hymn by Martin Franzmann)

 

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Today’s appointed New Testament reading in the daily lectionary is St. John 4: 7-26, a portion  of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan Woman at the well. From the Gospel lection:

13 Jesus said to her,“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The following is Martin Luther’s reflection on the Scripture verses above:

The sun is not dimmed and darkened by shining on so many people or by providing the entire world with its light and bright splendor. It retains its light intact. It loses nothing; it is immeasurable, perhaps able to illumine ten more worlds. I suppose that a hundred thousand candles can be ignited from one light, and still this light will not lose any of its brilliance. Likewise, a learned man can educate a thousand scholars without forfeiting any of his own learning. The more he shares with others, the more he has himself. Thus Christ, our Lord, to whom we must flee and of whom we must ask all, is an interminable well, the chief source of all grace, truth, righteousness, wisdom, and life, without limit, measure, or end. Even if the whole world were to draw from this fountain enough grace and truth to transform all people into angels, still it would not lose as much as a drop. This fountain constantly overflows with sheer grace. Whoever wishes to enjoy Christ’s grace — and no one is excluded — let him come and receive it from Him. You will never drain this fountain of living water; it will never run dry. You will all draw from it much more than enough, and yet it will remain a perennial well. 

A reflection on these verses:

“…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In John 2, after Jesus cleanses the Temple, the Jews pose a question to the Lord, ““What sign do you show us for doing these things?” (vs. 18)  Jesus then speaks about destroying the Temple and raising it in three days.  He is mocked about His statement, but He was speaking about, “…the temple of His Body” (vs. 21).

St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote in a letter to the Church in Smyrna, on his way to martyrdom, “…where Jesus Christ, there is the catholic Church” (catholic: Greek, literally, “kata holos”,  according to the whole, the whole, complete, universal Church).  The Lord said that where two or three gather together in the my Name, so I shall be (Matthew 18:  20).  The Lord said of the Eucharist, the Holy Communion His palpable presence, This is My Body and This is My Blood.  The Lord commanded and promised Baptism in the Name of the Holy Trinity and where the Lord’s Name is, the Lord said He will be present  (Matthew 28) .  His Body, crucified and risen is the Temple of the Lord as you are built into His Temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20,  1 Peter 2:5).

Mohammed was a religious genius, when he decreed in his made up religion of man-made religious works that Mecca was the holy city that all Muslims should make a pilgrimage if they could, or for someone else to go in their stead, to fulfill the letter of his new laws. Christ Jesus did not decree Jerusalem is the holy city, a Mecca for His Church.  He did not have to because the Lord rose spiritually and bodily so that Jerusalem is present in every congregation throughout the world. “The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered” (The Augsburg Confession, article VII, The Church).

Jesus was no religious genius.  He is true man and true God.  We come to His Church, His Body (cf. 1 Corinthians 12) for the Gospel of the spring of water welling up to eternal life, which Mohammed could not give in a million lives.  Christ is our Mecca, our Jerusalem, and ever more:  the LORD (St. John 20:  18 and 28;  Philippians 2: 5-11). We come thirsty and hungry, because of sin and sorrow, to Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God.  We come to the perennial well  of the Gospel.  Mohammed said in essence, ‘Come to my religion and I will burdened you further with religious rules and regs’. Mohammed could never say:

 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (St. Matthew 11)

 

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