Sermon summaries and audio files
In Christ, sorrow is always followed by joy. This is because he has conquered death for us, and he went to the Father. Sermon for Jubilate, the Third Sunday after Easter.
All judgment has been given to the Son, because he gave his life into death and is risen from the grave (Alleluia!). Do you fear an earthly judge? How much more ought you fear the Judge of heaven and earth; yet the judgment of him upon his people is this: he that hears his word and believes on him that sent him has eternal life and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death to life. Sermon for Midweek of Misericordias Domini.
The risen Christ tells Peter to feed his sheep, and so he fulfills his own promise, "I will feed my sheep." In the sending forth of the apostles and their called and ordained successors, Jesus continues his own work, his own shepherding. This is the meaning embedded in his Great Commission: when he says "I am with you always," he means that he is with the apostolic messengers as the active one in their ministry to the flock of God. The mystery of the Office of the Holy Ministry is this, that in it Christ is actively washing, comforting, and feeding his sheep. He thus tends his flock today, and in no other way. The 23rd Psalm is everyone's favorite, but it must be understood that the only way the Lord is my shepherd is through the ministry of his pastors. The entire Misericordias Domini Mass may be viewed on YouTube, here, and the audio of the sermon is also available here.
The incredulity of Thomas was really no different from that of all the others. They needed proof; and the Thomas narrative demonstrates clearly that Thomas, with all of them, got the very proof they needed. Our faith is rooted in established historical facts, and first of all of the resurrection of our Lord. This is why we believe every word of the Sacred Scriptures, and why we believe that as Christ is risen from the dead, even so all who trust in him shall likewise be raised. The entire Mass is available on YouTube, and you may also listen to the sermon here.
Which is better? The Word or the Sacrament? Dear flock, I wish to teach you this glad Easter morning why this question has an answer. I was once accused of the "heresy" of believing the Sacrament is better than the Word; I will gladly own it. But the Word of God is a wonderful gift. It is, as the Psalmist declares, sweeter than honey to my mouth; it is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. The Word of God is a rock of refuge, a sure and certain promise from heaven, something over which to rejoice greatly, and so we do. But the Sacrament is better. For, as the ancients used to say, the Sacrament is the Visible Word. The Word makes the Sacrament what it is; without the Word there is no Sacrament, but with the Sacrament we get something tangible, an even greater thing.
A similar question: which is better, the Easter Gospel in which the angel tells the women, Christ is not here! He is risen, even as he said, come see the place where he lay? Or the Easter Gospel in which Christ himself appears to the eleven in the upper room? The latter is the better; though certainly we rejoice on hearing the blessed Gospel, of the angel's message to the women, for we know the whole story. But those women who first witnessed the empty tomb did not. They were terrified; they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid, as it says. It was not until they met him on the way, until Mary Magdalene beheld Jesus in the garden and embraced his feet that they became overjoyed. And so too, the disciples did not believe the glad tidings, though they should have; and Jesus himself rebuked them for not believing it, and for their hardness of heart. But when he stood before them and said, Peace be unto you! - then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. The Gospel of the empty tomb and the message of the angel is a marvelous thing, a reason to rejoice, certainly. But the Gospel of Jesus himself, inviting them to inspect him and see, that is a more marvelous thing.
Another similar question: which is better, this live streaming of the Sunday service and this hearing of the Gospel, or actually being here, to get it in person, and to receive Christ's true Body and Blood by mouth, and personally thus to receive your crucified and risen Savior? The answer is obvious.
Which is better? The Word is a wonderful and precious Gift from heaven. But the Sacrament is Christ, whom the Word proclaims. Sermon for Easter Sunrise.
Why did the earth quake at the resurrection? This seems like a small detail. But let us ponder this word of God. The earth also quaked at the crucifixion. And why should it not? The Creator of the world here dies, and then rises from the dead. And his resurrection was not a mere resuscitation. When Jesus raised Lazarus, and Jairus' daughter, and the son of the widow of Nain, those were the bringing back to life of the dead too, but they were brought back to life still as mortals. They would yet die. There is even a place, some believe, where Lazarus' grave is and may be found. But the resurrection of Jesus is different. Those miracles were but foretastes of this, which is a greater resurrection. For this is a change. And in his mortal body put on immortality, and his corruptible flesh put on incorruption. For he rose never again to die. And he is the first fruits of them that sleep. His bodily resurrection is just the beginning. We too, who are in him, shall likewise be raised from death. Behold, says John, I saw new heavens and a new earth. No wonder there was an earthquake. The earth is in the birth pangs of a woman, who in hard labor struggles and sorrows, but when the child is born she remembers it no more because a child is born into the world. No wonder there are earthquakes still, and hurricanes, and disasters, and pandemics sweeping around the globe. The earth is in birth pangs, and Christ is already risen from the dead, the first fruits. In him is resurrection, life, and salvation. Sermon for Easter Vigil.
We have nothing. Jesus was arrested, taken away. We have no light, no help, not even Jesus himself. It was so unfair, that he who was so good and kind and full of love was treated with such malice and hatred. And taken from us. We have nothing. And in this day of a pandemic, we also have nothing. People dying, hospitals overcrowding around the world, livelihoods lost, income lost, everything lost. We have nothing. Or so it would seem. But his love continued still, even when they took him, he still loved them and prayed for them: Father, forgive them. And so his love has prevailed and conquered every evil, even death itself. For he rose from the dead the third day, and is the firstfruits of them that sleep. And because he suffered, we have the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. And we have the kingdom of heaven, and even the promise of God's continual help on earth. So we have everything; as St. Paul has said: all things are yours. And again, we are as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. Sermon for Good Friday.
Life without the Holy Mass is the worst thing about a pandemic, during which everyone stays at home. Live streaming or recording services for people to watch or listen to at home is no substitute. Of all things for which we pray and hope, we must place this as the most important: to be privileged to gather together again, to receive Christ at the altar as a congregation. For there are two parts to the Gospel. There is the death of Christ which redeems us and reconciles the world to God, and there is this also: that in the Blessed Sacrament we receive by mouth the very body of Christ which he gave into death, and his very blood which was shed. He who gave himself for us also gives himself to us. His sacrificial once-for-all death is brought to us over time and space wondrously, that we may be partakers in it. We must pray, and expect, that our most holy convocations might be made possible again, knowing that all things he works out for our good. Sermon for Maundy Thursday.