Sermon summaries and audio files
3/21/2021 0 Comments
The Gospel which calls to remembrance the martyrdom of John the Baptist forces us to face squarely the unwelcome intruder of death, both his and our own. We are mortal, though we would love to forget that. But so also was Jesus mortal, and his death teaches us in no uncertain terms that he knows what we face; not only so, but he rose from the dead. As John was Jesus' forerunner, so Jesus himself was our forerunner through death to resurrection and life. Sermon for Midweek of Lent IV. The video is here.
In today's Gospel, Jesus said to the Jews, "Your father Abraham saw my day and was glad." What did Abraham see? What made him glad? Recall Abraham's great personal test. He must offer his only-begotten son, his beloved, as a sacrifice. But Abraham believed and had learned that God is gracious and kind. And he also knew that the promised One would come through Isaac the son of promise. So therefore he also knew that God must raise him from the dead if he sacrificed him. So he went forth believing. But still, such a dreadful test. He must actually slay his son on the altar; he must do this, and Isaac would truly die if he did. And Isaac too had learned this stubborn faith from his father, as all faithful sons learn well from their fathers. So he called out in filial obedience, "My father!" as he carried the wood up Mount Moriah, the very same mountain on which Jerusalem would one day be built, and he dutifully carried the wood for the offering, and he believed his father who had said to the men left at the bottom that he and his father would return to them. So he knew that even if he must be himself the sacrifice that God must raise him from the dead. Still, a dreadful test! He must be pierced through with the instrument of death; he must die! And at the last moment the angel stayed Abraham's hand, providing a great relief to both father and son. Still, a sacrifice was needed, as they knew, as Abraham himself had said: God himself will provide the sacrifice. And so he did, he provided a ram caught in a thicket. Yet the also knew that it is impossible for the blood of goats and rams to take away sin; they knew a Greater Sacrifice was needed. They saw the day of Christ, and were glad, on this, the third day! How very glad, as they fiercely embraced on another, even as Mary Magdalene embraced the feet of Jesus on the day of His resurrection from the dead. This faith we need: to believe, to know, that Jesus' word will always come true. Though affliction and trial must come, yet there shall be a day of resurrection, for we know the true Sacrifice, and His resurrection on the third day. Sermon for Judica the Fifth Sunday in Lent. The video is here.
On the fourth Sunday in Lent we arrive at a bit of an oasis in the midst of Lent, which is why roses today adorn our altar. And just as the Israelites in the wilderness received a daily miraculous reminder that God was still with them, in the manna that came down from heaven, and just as the 5000 in a deserted place received from Jesus miraculous bread that somehow was multiplied from 5 loaves, so also today in the Blessed Sacrament he feeds us at an oasis in the midst of earthy life itself. And this miracle is greater than the manna, greater than the bread which fed five thousand, for this is bread which by his word becomes his own Body for us to eat, and with it he guarantees that in our trek through this world we by this faith shall arrive at our Promised Land. For he not only gives us here our daily bread, but this Sacrament is actually Christ himself, the Bread of Life. Sermon for Laetare Sunday, and the video is here.
Scholars and intellectuals are many who have mocked the existence of heaven, saying it was created in the minds of wishful thinkers. But in this Gospel we note that Jesus himself would have had to been one such thinker, for clearly he expressed the reality of the world to come, as he debated the Sadducees. And he referred to those who are counted worthy (kat-axios: utterly worthy) to attain it. Who are these? Surely, if we are honest, we cannot include ourselves. Indeed only One is worthy, the Lamb that was slain. Only Christ was without sin; everyone else is unworthy by nature. But he who alone is worthy has taken upon himself our sin, and has risen from the dead. And because of this, he grants to all who trust in him the gift of his worthiness, and they become, as he says here, the children of God, being children of the resurrection. This is a tremendous gift, given and sealed in Baptism and the Supper. Sermon for Midweek of Lent III. The video is here.
It has been said that the devil's greatest trick is to convince people that he does not exist. How could he not? He is behind every evil the world has ever known including, in our day, that great delusion and utter madness that has descended on so many. Gender confusion, delusions about racism, cancel culture, etc. And he also is behind the gross infringements of injustice upon the innocent, such as a man who was arrested under false pretenses, whose accusers could not agree with each other, who was wrongly condemned, beaten, whipped, crucified, dead and buried. Yet there is another delusion the devil has foisted, namely his lie that the darkness is our fate, that all is lost, that there is no hope. This denies the resurrection of our Lord. When a strong man armed keeps his palace, his goods are at peace, but when a stronger than he comes upon him, he overtakes him and divides the spoil. So our Lord by his weakness overcame the devil, much as a tender worm on a hook devoured by a fearsome fish which does not know of the hook and is snared by it. And we have been redeemed and set free from the prison-house of hell. Blessed are they that hear the word of God--this word--and keep it. So let us rejoice in our liberty and lift up our heads. Sermon for Oculi Sunday. The video is here.
Jesus first chides the generation for its faithlessness. The judgment is true for us as well, who, when we search ourselves, find so much doubt and worry, and forgetfulness of his goodness. So it becomes right for us to pray, as did the father of the demon-possessed man: Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief! All things come from him, even the faith to believe in his grace. And he alone does all that we need. Not even his disciples could help him here, he did it alone, just as he was alone when he was arrested. They all forsook him. All alone, by himself he won our salvation, from start to finish. Sermon for Midweek of Lent II. Video is here.
The Canaanite woman who approached Jesus about her demon-possessed daughter was an outsider. She did not belong. And this was apparent even to the disciples who asked Jesus to send her away. Jesus himself agreed: I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And she herself did not disagree. She knew she didn't belong here, in the presence of the Christ, the Holy One of Israel. So also must we have a healthy awareness that we don't belong here either. Here, in this place, are angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven: the prophets, the patriarchs, King David, the Blessed Apostles, St. Peter, Mary Magdalene, the greatest people in all the history of the world. So what are we doing here, then? We don't belong either. We are miserable, worthless, merit-less sinners. So learn from this woman to know you place: Truth, Lord. Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs. She nonetheless knew of his kindness and mercy. This is the only thing that gives us access to the Holy Place of God, to his sanctuary. And this we have, for he gives us his righteousness to be received by the same faith as she had. Sermon for Reminiscere. The video is here.
A few sermons.
First, Quinquagesima, in whose Gospel Jesus heals a blind man whose faith is robust. Audio and Video.
Next came Ash Wednesday. The audio is here, but there is no video.
Most recently was Invocabit, the First Sunday in Lent. Jesus goes into the wilderness to battle the devil in humility. Audio and Video.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. How small its beginnings: David the youngest of Jesse's sons becomes king. But his own sins nearly ruined this kingdom; then he almost was destroyed by his enemies. When his son Solomon became king the kingdom flourished, but then over the years it languished and nearly died several times. The patience of God ran out and there was the great deportation into Babylon. But by the grace of God they returned; and in the fulness of time Christ was born, in poverty. He barely escaped Herod. When he returned from Egypt he went to dwell in despised Nazareth. When he was anointed and began his ministry, he was soon choked by the thorns of fierce enemies, and hell's minions arrested him, beat him, whipped him, crucified him, and buried him. Yet then he sprang forth out of the grave. And his church was born at Pentecost. This is the kingdom of heaven, and you have been grafted into it by Baptism. You are the birds nesting in its branches. It is unstoppable, imperishable, eternal. You are safe. Sermon for Midweek of Sexagesim. The video is here.
In the beginning, the word sounded forth, but who heard it? God heard it, for God is a community of Persons. So God spoke and God heard, and thus the earth was fashioned. Hearing is of God. It is a marvelous gift, and its use is fulfilled when we hear the word of God. But the devil also knows this, and like the birds who devour the seed that falls by the way side, so the devil snatches the word when he can, like he did in the garden with Eve. And trouble and persecution are also threats to the germination of the word in the heart: people learn to live by fear instead of by faith. But Jesus says to us, Fear not countless times. And then also are the cares and riches and pleasures of this life which threaten the word's taking root. Like Faust of literature, people sell their souls to gain what the earth has. But it is all fleeting, and by it men turn from the faith. Let us embrace the word of Christ, for by the word the seed grows and yields an hundredfold. Sermon for Sexagesima. The video is here.