Sermon summaries and audio files
How very dark, how dreadful, how unspeakably cruel is Jesus' Passion; yet how wonderful, how full of lovingkindness and divine mercy. Yet the flesh is weak while the spirit is willing, so we faint at the sight. And we, with the naked young man, flee. But we must return; we must be led of the Spirit back to embrace this poor Christ, for there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved. So let us, with Joseph of Arimathea, crave the Body of Jesus. (Note: In the sermon I misspoke: I said Simon of Cyrene when I meant this Joseph) Sermon for Holy Tuesday.
The Pharisees were beside themselves because so many were following Jesus, and they said, "See how you prevail nothing; the world is gone after him." And Jesus himself then said, When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself. For the power by which men are drawn to him is not their own reason or strength, but the divine power of his word: the same word that called Lazarus forth from the grave, and that called all the worlds into being. Sermon for Holy Monday.
The pure and spotless Lamb rides into the city to bring peace between heaven and earth, for he is the greater Solomon. And he is the greater sacrifice as well, for he is without sin, as everyone knew: Pilate, Pilate's wife, Judas, the chief priests and elders, the multitudes. Yet he is delivered up, in exchange for Barabbas, whose name means "son of the father." Here we find ourselves. We are Barabbas, for we, through his offering, become sons of the Father; whereupon we embrace our Christ and gladly call him our King, lining the streets, saying, God save the King! Hosanna! Sermon for Palm Sunday.
Peter boasted; he vowed; he fought; then he fell: he fled; he denied; he heard; he wept bitterly. And thus wisdom was born in him. This is the wisdom which comes down from above, the wisdom of the Preacher who says that all things are vanity, the wisdom of God which is folly to men, the wisdom of the cross and suffering, the wisdom of anguish. For a broken and contrite heart he will not despise. Peter's contrition and sorrow made him fit to learn well of the mercy of God that he had already received in the Holy Supper that same night. And so must we learn through trial and affliction of life the wisdom of God. There is no other way. Sermon for Midweek of Passion week.
What did Abraham see? He saw a ram caught in a thicket, which he offered as a vicarious satisfaction for his son. A substitutionary atonement. He saw Jesus, who was offered in our place as a ransom to redeem us. And he saw Jesus also in his son Isaac: having come on a donkey to the place of sacrifice (behold, the very same place!), ascending the hill with the wood of the altar, crying out Father in filial obedience, bound on that altar for sacrifice. He saw Jesus in all this, and received him back on the third day. And he saw Jesus in the Angel of the Lord who stayed his hand. For Jesus is the great I Am, the Incarnate One, the Uncreated from the beginning. What do you see? Do you see Jesus? You are in the same place as Abraham, or rather, receiving the same Christ. For Abraham was at the actual place of the crucifixion, but you receive the actual Christ who was crucified. See, his Body, his Blood: here is the Sacrifice for your sin. So see, and with Abraham rejoice: see his Day and be glad. Sermon for Judica, Passion Sunday.
It was the epitome of hypocrisy that Jesus should be betrayed with a kiss, a sign of affection. Yet although Judas was blameworthy, so were they all: Peter denied him twice, and all the disciples forsook him and fled. They knew that they had the potential for this evil within themselves, for when Jesus had said that same night that one of them would betray him, each asked, "Is it I?" What of us? Must we not ask as well: "Is it I?" -and acknowledge our sinful hearts. Yet behold the wondrous manner in which God works all things out for good. For had not Judas betrayed Christ, he would not have been handed over, nor tried before Pilate, nor crucified, nor redeemed us, nor gained victory over death and hell by his glorious resurrection. Ponder this, Christian! Though Peter and the others had deep regret over their failures, yet God still in his abundant grace worked all thing out--even their failures, mysteriously--for their good. And so does he treat us. All because of the forgiveness of sins earned by his Passion, and given in the Holy Supper which he instituted that same night. Ponder how much that forgiveness means: that everything rueful or regrettable in your own past is to be undone by the glorious victory he gives to us, and the everlasting life guaranteed by his resurrection from the dead. Sermon for Lent IV midweek.
Laetare Sunday is the Oasis in Lent, just like the place where Jesus fed 5,000, for there was much grass in the place. And it is helpful to recall how Jesus resisted the devil's temptation to make bread in the wilderness, for it was so that he might feed bread to the multitudes; so also, he resisted the devil's temptation to cast himself down to receive the glory of being the Son of God, for it was so that he might give unto his people the glory of a miraculous feeding; and again, he resisted the temptation to have all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, for it was so that he might by his own passion and resurrection gain all authority in heaven and on earth, and give heavenly glory to his people. And we note that it was no accident that he led them to this place where there was no way to buy bread; it was so that he might show himself as the giver of miraculous, heavenly bread, and ultimately to point them to himself who is the Bread of Life. The ultimate oasis for all of our life's fasting and tribulation is the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, for here we learn above all that we need not bread alone, but this Bread to which is added the word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Sermon for Laetare.
The devil, envious of man who was made in the image of God, thought that by deceiving and bringing him to ruin, he could turn his righteous Maker against him and condemn him, as the devil himself was due for condemnation. But the devil did not know God. To know God is not only to know that he is righteous, but more integrally to his nature, that he is love. And so God came to man's rescue: mercy and truth were met together in the womb of the blessed Virgin, and the image of God was restored to perfection by the Incarnate One. Sermon for the Annunciation.
The devil has met his match. Jesus crushes the strong man's head by his holy cross and destroys him, though his heel is bruised and he dies in doing so. Yet his glorious resurrection signals utter victory for his people who must still wrestle against the darkness of this age. We have our guarantee in the holy Sacrament that the war against the devil is ended, and the skirmishes that afflict us will soon be over as well. Sermon for Oculi.
The events surrounding Joseph's guardianship were each divinely orchestrated, including his dreams, which remind us of the dreams of his forbear who likewise sojourned in Egypt. All things are ordered by the almighty hand of God: especially those things pertaining to our salvation, and even those things that pertain to us in life. All things work together for good, because he loves us too much to leave it to chance. Sermon for St. Joseph''s Day.