Sermon summaries and audio files
The world did not know it needed him, which is folly. For our wine runs out, our life is full of death, and trouble reigns everywhere. And marriages fail because of sin and selfishness, and idolatry. Yet still he came to us, to turn our water into wine. How is wine made? By the work of man. So consider the work that made this water wine. Christ worked the work of our salvation. And this gives us the finest wine, and makes us his very Bride, the Church. Sermon for Epiphany II. The video is here.
John objects to baptizing Jesus at first, because, first, he knew he needed to be baptized. Yet according to Jesus, no one ever born was greater than he; yet he declared himself unworthy. Surely then so are we. Second, why would Jesus identify here with sinners? He does more than that, for this fulfills all righteousness. Here he, the Lamb of God, is laden with the sins of the world, that he may take them to the place of sacrifice in his crucifixion. And in addition, anyone baptized in his name gets more, for not only are his sins removed, but he receives the righteousness of Christ. Sermon for the Baptism of Our Lord. The video is here.
In the beginning was the word. For God was in the beginning, and God spoke in the beginning. The word was with God in the beginning. There came forth from the eternal God a word, and that word was therefore also eternal.
When man speaks this is not so, for man is finite. Man has a beginning, and therefore his words have a beginning, and man has an end, and therefore his words have an end. His words are finite. He speaks, the word comes out of his mouth, and the word falls, it does not endure. For man, yesterday’s words are done, and tomorrow’s words are not yet. Only the words of the present are heard when man speaks them, and they travel to the ears of other men and are no more, except in the memories of other men who heard them. This is not so with God, nor with his word, for God is eternal, and therefore his word is and must be eternal also. He speaks and his word abides, it endures forever.
God’s word also is full of life, as full of life as God himself. This is also unlike the words of men. Man’s words do not contain life but are fleeting and vanish away, just like man himself, who comes forth as a flower and continues not, for man is as a watch in the night, like grass which grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers. The days of his years are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Man’s words also are soon cut off, and they fly away too. Man’s words are not full of life, but they die, just like man himself, who dies. Not like God’s words: they do not die, they never die. They are life.
And so too, as God is eternal, and is eternally living, he also bestows life, is life-giving, is Creator; and so his word is not only eternal, and eternally living, but also creative and bestows life. And so in the beginning when God spoke, his word created, brought forth life. It was through this word that all things were created. This is how he made the world: he spoke, and his eternal word brought the world into being, and even brought life into the world. The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and cattle and every beast, and every creeping thing that creeps on the ground, and man: man became a living being. And so the world was filled with life, and man was full of life, because this was a reflection of the life that was in God and in his word.
And God’s word is also light; light that shines in the darkness, though the darkness does not comprehend it; that is to say, man in his fallenness and folly has also a foolish heart that is darkened and cannot be enlightened of itself. We are darkness, we are all darkness. In the midst of life we are in death, we are all in death. We are finite, we all die, we all tend toward the darkness. God did not create us this way, but we fell, we sinned, and our foolish hearts were darkened. In the day that we ate the forbidden fruit, we died.
But here is the wonderful news, the Gospel of God, the light of God: it still shines, and the darkness cannot overcome it. For darkness can never overcome light. Darkness is itself the absence of light, so when light comes forth the darkness disappears. So therefore God would not lose his creation, and could not succumb to darkness and death. God is eternal, and is eternally alive, and his eternal word is the light that shines in the darkness: the eternal light of God into a darkened world, the eternal life of God to a dying world. For this is who God is: having an eternal word with him which overcomes darkness and death and fallenness. And this eternal word with God is God, is God himself. Yes, here is the great mystery: this eternal word of God is God, as the evangelist says. This Word was in the beginning and was with God and was God.
No wonder man cannot comprehend this, for man is finite, and full of darkness and death.
So God sent a man, whose name was John. This man spoke not merely the words of men, but the word of God. This man therefore proclaimed something eternal, as eternal as God himself. This man declared the coming of the Word into the world, not merely as a spoken word, but as an incarnate word. The Word which was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God, this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And this is quite permanent.
And this Word which is God brought God to man because he was God. He brought eternity to man because he was eternal. He brought life to man because he was life.
And no one comes to the Father but by him, because man cannot see, cannot comprehend, cannot understand. Darkness cannot comprehend light, for darkness is the very absence of light. Therefore the light shines in darkness to disperse it and to drive it away. And the light overcomes the darkness by virtue of the fact that that is what light does. It drives darkness away by the very fact that it is light. And so eternal life drives all death away by the very fact that it is eternal life.
And the wonder and the beauty of this Christmas day is this: that to our darkness and death there comes light and life, because the word has come to us today in the flesh, and he is eternal. And as many as received him and embraced him and believed on him, it was because he gave them this power, to become the sons of God, to them that were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
It was because of the life eternally embedded in the word that we have believed it, for just as darkness cannot comprehend light, and death cannot comprehend life, so also we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord, or come to him.
The wonder and beauty of this day is that God has not left us comfortless, but has come to us and rescued us from this. He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary and was made man. And he who was brought forth eternally from the mouth of God is now brought forth among us in his holy birth from the womb of Mary. And so the light shines in the darkness and overcomes it.
In him is light and no darkness at all. So he came to us to swallow our darkness and disperse it, to bear our sorrows and drive them away, and even to die our death and destroy it. He was bound to rise from the dead on the third day because that’s what light does: it disperses the darkness. That’s what God does: he lives, he speaks, he creates.
The coming of Christ into the world is the coming of life and light and eternity. It is the overcoming of death and darkness and misery. God will not lose his creation, because he is God. He cannot lose. He spoke and it was so; he speaks and it is so. And just as darkness is always dispersed when light shines, so also must God’s eternal good prevail, and we who believe on the name of the only-begotten Son of God, who has now been born of the Virgin Mary, shall never die. And every darkness we have known shall be dispersed, and every sorrow in which we have grieved driven away, and we shall tread death itself under our feet. Because the word came forth in the beginning, and it was with God and it was God. And so also we, beloved, we who have begun to believe in the word which is become flesh, we have made this beginning only because of the power of his glory, and of his grace and truth. Because of the eternity and life embedded in the word of God which became flesh.
And there is yet more to this wonder and beauty, and this is the most marvelous part of it all: that he who became incarnate for us now gives himself to us directly, to be received by mouth, in this blessed Supper, the Christ Mass. Here is your God in the flesh, here is your eternity, here is your life, right here is the light that shines into the darkness and disperses it. And when you receive him here, there is nothing that can overcome him. No sorrow or sadness, no death, no bad news, none of the evils of a fallen and darkened world. The light shines, here. It disperses all darkness, here. It drives away death, right here and right now, as it is written, the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Be of good cheer this glad Christmas day! Arise, shine, for your light is come! For the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. You shall not die, but live. You shall not be consumed by darkness, but the light of Christ shall consume and disperse that darkness. For the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
The audio is here, the video here.
A multitude of angels shouted for joy, as it is written in the book of Job, and now, behold, this multitude appears again, singing Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. For it is significant enough when one angel appears to announce the birth of Christ, but now the multitude announces its meaning: here is the rebirth of the world, and for the first time since the world fell, the restoration of peace, that peace that passes understanding, that is, the declaration of God's good will toward men, through this savior. See, O Christian, whoever you are, who lament you sin and sorrow, and who grieve any of the earth's sorrows and fallenness, God is at peace with you now, and his good pleasure has come to you at last. Rejoice this glad Christmas Day! Christmas Eve Mass (in its entirety), and its video is here.
At Christmas we hear of a virgin birth, and of a multitude of angels. These things are extraordinary, and we might be tempted to be skeptical, even though they are proclaimed by the word of God. So we have Thomas the skeptic, who was convinced when he inspected the evidence of the risen Christ. See how merciful is God, for instead of condemning us for our doubts, he bolsters our faith with more evidence. Not only so, but he commands that Thomas' hand be placed into his side. So now we have the sacraments also to bolster our faith, for blood and water had come out of that side, elements of the Sacrament of the Altar and of Baptism, and now also we see that Thomas' blessed hand was in that side, so that now he may bless with it, according to his office. And that same office, given down through the ages by the laying on of hands also gives us men who lay their hands on the sick, the penitent, and the weary. All to bolster and convince our faith. Sermon for St. Thomas. The video is here.
Man is prone to boast, to think of his own accomplishments. But think of John who had the most reason of all to boast, yet he confessed and denied not, but confessed, I am not the Christ. Confession of sin and confession of faith belong together, and when we confess our unworthiness we become fit to confess the worthiness of Christ the Lamb. And thus the crooked places are made straight. Sermon for Advent IV. The video is here.
John was Jesus' forerunner not only in what he said, but in what he did. See, the first thing he ever did, when he was newly knit together in his mother's womb, was to leap. And so would Christ himself leap, after his resurrection, by his ascension, into heaven, in our flesh. And so let us also leap in the womb of our mother the Church: let us leap the leap of joy in anticipation for the great day of Christ's return when we shall leap as calves of the stall. Sermon for Midweek of Advent III. The video is here.
On Gaudete Sunday we recall the message Jesus sent with John's disciples who were eyewitnesses to his miracles that proved he was indeed the coming one. This also demonstrates to us that the Christian faith is not a leap-of-faith religion, nor is it something unprovable. On the contrary there were many infallible proofs, as St. Luke also says. So good to know as we approach Christmas with its remarkable story of the angels, and as we prepare for the second coming of Christ in glory. Our hope is a confidence based in fact. Let us rejoice, even in the face of life's hardships, such as what confronted John in prison. Sermon for Advent III. The video is here.
Mary asked the angel how she, a virgin, could conceive and bear a son. The angel explained, and added, "With God, nothing shall be impossible." A greater miracle than that is the very fact that the Son of God should become the Son of Mary, that within the small space of her womb would be him whom the universe cannot contain. And so also, there is the great miracle of our salvation: that we poor sinners who do not merit anything good should receive the gift of life and salvation through this Christ Child who came to give his life and to rise from the dead. And there is also the great miracle that we, in the midst of a troubled world with its griefs and sorrows, should gain this promise that we shall inherit heaven and be raised incorruptible at the last day when He comes again in glory. But with God nothing shall be impossible. Sermon for Midweek of Advent II. The video is here.