Sermon summaries and audio files
By appearances, the Pharisees had a point, for, as St. Paul says, bad company corrupts good conduct. Every father knows this, when his teenager hangs around with the wrong kind of people. So Jesus is associating with publicans and sinners. It looks bad, but of course the appearance is not the reality; for in truth we know that the kind of sinners he ate with were penitent sinners: Zacchaeus, Matthew, Mary Magdalene, and the like. He did not care how it appeared to be, but how it was. How marvelous a thing, actually, that Jesus receives sinners and eats with them, for this is the very essence of the Gospel. Every child of Adam is a sinner, beginning with the first, who was a murder. And Adam and Eve themselves: Eve rebelled against the authority of her husband, and Adam against the authority of God; such is the nature of all sin. It is rebellion against God. But still he came to us, not to condemn us for this but to rescue and redeem us, like a shepherd who finds and brings back his wandering sheep, laying it happily on his shoulders rejoicing. So therefore let us rejoice with him as his friends and neighbors, and rejoice that he has also found and rescued us. Instead of virtue signaling such as is so common in our culture today--showing the world some kind of virtue that we think we appear to have--determining in thanksgiving to seek to become truly virtuous, and loving and being kind to one another, and forgiving one another as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us. For he has, thankfully, deigned to receive us and eat with us. Sermon for Trinity III. The video is here.
We see the rich man's two flaws here. One is that he believed himself superior to others. So must we all be careful not to do so, no matter who we are. His second flaw is fatal: he didn't believe there was anything wrong with the first. He knew no repentance. Meanwhile how very like Jesus is Lazarus. Would have come to the rich man in hell if he could have, and we know a Lazarus who was raised from the dead and it did the rich man's brothers no good. Same as Jesus, whose resurrection helps no one without the word of the Gospel. Let us cultivate the desire to be with Jesus, and like him. Sermon for Trinity Octave. Video is here.
To believe is to trust in the only true God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This God is one, and there is a threeness to him, for he is three Persons. So also there is a threeness to love: there is a lover, a beloved, and love itself. God is love: for the Father loves the Son, the Son is the Beloved, and the Spirit is their mutual love. And into this love, this triune God, we are baptized. Sermon for Midweek of the Trinity Octave. Video is here.
The three Persons of the Godhead are evident throughout Scripture, in the term "God," in the three Men visiting Abraham and Sarah, in the angels of Isaiah's vision calling to one another, "Holy, holy, holy." And they are evident in the three parts of our Creed as well, on Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification. Yet although they be three, and although the eternal Source is the Father, the heart of the Trinity, so-to-speak, is the Second Person, the Word. For by the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and before he spake and it was done, there was only formlessness and void. And this is why the egregious error of Adam was to reject the Word; and in so doing he himself was emptied, and became, as it were, formless and void. But the word of the Lord endureth forever, and thus he became flesh, and dwelt among us, and was sacrificed for us, and redeemed the fallen world by his death. But as the word is eternal, he could not be destroyed, so he rose again (on the third day!) and presented himself alive to his disciples. Yet the world remained in the darkness and void of ignorance and unbelief. So the Word gave his word to his disciples and sent them into all the world to preach and enlighten darkened souls, and cause them to be reborn and new creations. See how we need the Word and cannot live without him, and his words we must receive with gladness, lest we ourselves be formless and void. O Nicodemus! You cannot approach him at night, or in the void of your own understanding. Receive him, both in preaching and in his form in the Sacrament. Turn from formlessness and void to him, and so live in him forever. Sermon for Trinity Sunday. Video is here.
When Jesus breathed on his disciples on Easter Sunday, it was a foretaste of Pentecost. The breath of Jesus is nothing other than the Spirit who proceeds out of his mouth and preaches him. And it is a breath of fire, of judgment. He sits at God's right hand, as Judge; and he will surely judge all. So let us, in penitence, beg for mercy. And then we shall be equipped to hear of the mercy preached from Pentecost forward. For the sound of the Spirit is not indiscriminate; it is the sound of preaching; it is most clearly what Jesus said to his disciples when he breathed on them and ordained them: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted. The sound is "your sins are forgiven you," heard in the preaching of the Gospel, and again, most clearly, in the Blessed Sacrament, where his body and blood are given "for you, for the remission of sins." Sermon for Pentecost.
The tower of Babel was man's rebellious answer to God, an insistence upon making his own way to heaven. Whether or not the tower was a hedge against another flood, one thing is clear. Man wanted nothing to do with God. And so God confused their tongues, preventing them from even trying. So let us all repent of our fallenness, our wicked hearts who have the same inclination. And let us turn to the word of the Gospel that sounded forth on Pentecost, in all the languages. God in his mercy reached out and preached to the dispersed nations, calling them back. Let us embrace this Gospel, and leave off building our own towers to heaven. Sermon for the Vigil of Pentecost.
In today's Gospel, Jesus warns his disciples of things to come, so that they would not be offended, that is, scandalized. For they will be despised and killed, and might otherwise wonder. But Jesus gives them his Spirit and sends them forth, and keeps them in the faith. So does he also keep his little flock today, though Satan harass them in many ways. The Lord truly is risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and gives his Spirit to his people through apostolic preaching and sacraments. Sermon for Exaudi Sunday. The video is here.
On Ascension Day we do well to call to mind the heavenly conversation recorded in the 24th Psalm. The angels guarding the gates of glory see the approaching angels escorting the ascending Lord to the throne of God, and the escorting angels cry out "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and the King of Glory shall come in!" to which the guarding angels reply, "Who is this king of glory?" for they see a Man coming: a Man! And again the escorting angels insist: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates!" to which the guarding angels, still incredulous, reply, "Who is this King of Glory?" and the escorting angels proclaim, "This is the Lord of hosts! He is the King of Glory!" for the man Jesus is himself the Lord of hosts, having conquered death and hell in his flesh, and now takes his place, in our flesh, at the right hand of God. Sermon for Ascension Day. Video is here.
Jesus and his Spirit speak truth, in sharp contrast to the falsehoods of our culture, in our government, in the media, and even in the schools. All the lies! But the truth is hear, in the Gospel. Jesus' remarkable claims: that he is God, which is why sin is essentially failure to believe in him; for he alone is the true God, and the first commandment pertains to him; and all the other commandments are incased in the first. And he claims that all righteousness is in him, for the only way to receive it, now that he has gone to the Father, is to hear the preachers who proclaim him, and faith in him. And most remarkably of all, he contends that the ruler of this world, the devil, is judged, even before he finished his work of redemption. So sure a thing it was that he already knew it. And so does he know that you, too, through faith in him, shall receive utter victory over all your enemies, including sin and death. For he who died is risen from the dead. Sermon for Cantate Sunday. The video is here.
The disciples saw the wolf and fled like hirelings, but Jesus the Good Shepherd faced the wolf alone, and willingly laid down his life for the sheep. He was crucified dead and buried. But then he rose from the dead and appeared to them and declared peace to them, forgiving them for their failure and guilt; and they became his witnesses. Not only witnesses for him, but witnesses of him. They saw him, handled him, inspected him, and believed. He was truly risen from the dead. And this changed their lives, and they were also ordained and called by his breath and the Holy Spirit. Now no longer afraid they went forth and preached. And now you receive their witness in this Holy Gospel. So let your lives be changed, having gained the same confidence as they had, believing that he who died has arisen, and is forever the Good Shepherd for you. Sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday. The audio is here.