Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name

The enigmatic saying of St. John 16:23: ("And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.") refers, I believe, to the Holy Office into which these disciples are to be placed. St. Augustine believed that the words of this Gospel were actually spoken after the resurrection. He may be onto something, since Jesus said, "because I go to the Father," a reference, it would seem, to His ascension. After this, when the Holy Apostolic Office is inaugurated, these men will stand in Jesus' stead (a strong theme for this evangelist) and ask in His name, most especially, for the Holy Bread from heaven, the blessed Sacrament. The sermon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jubilate Sunday

In today's Gospel (St. John 16:16-23) the phrase "a little while" is repeated seven times. So perhaps its faint echo was embedded in the recesses of the grieving disciples' hearts after Jesus died, keeping them from falling into utter despair until His appearance before them. So also do His people today sometimes find that He is absent or dead, and they grieve and sorrow and feel melancholy and depression, even though they should know better. But in His mercy He comes to us even as He returned to them, and says "Peace be unto you," most especially in the Holy Supper. He comforts His own; He does not leave them to their own devices; He returns after a little while. For He is truly risen from the dead, and comes to dwell with us in His Gospel and blessed Sacrament. The sermon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Annunciation

Mary was full of grace, which means she was not full of personal merit. She was chosen because she was nobody.

So also have we been chosen and given grace, not in view of our merit and worthiness, but because of the love of God.

And as in the tiny space of Mary's womb a wondrous union with God occurred, so in also in us who receive the Holy Sacrament does this union occur.

The sermon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Humanity of Sympathy

The death of a dear loved one often leads people to ask why, especially when it is one so young and sweet, as was our dear Megan. Her picture-perfect marriage to our son was such a glad occasion only three months before she was diagnosed with cancer. Little did I know, when warning them in the wedding sermon that they would undoubtedly be facing challenges together in Christ, just how great and how near these challenges would loom. And so it is natural to ask why.

And yet, strange as it may seem, in the aftermath of funeral and burial, the question does not haunt us as it does those who have no hope.

The question in fact has many answers, first of which perhaps is this: all is vanity, saith the Lord. Weddings, as beautiful and happy as they are, can easily make us forgetful of this fact, and mislead us into thinking that it is in this life that we have hope in Christ. Certainly Megan did not think so. We look for the life of the world to come.

Further, when tragedy and death visit, I have no second thoughts about why I entered this holy calling; I have no doubt that this will also be embedded in the mind of my son when he receives his Holy Orders. For in the end, what can be more valuable for the world than the preaching of the Gospel? All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

And there's another thing. So many have expressed their heartfelt sympathy to us in recent days, leading me to think on the matter of sympathy. From the Greek syn + pathos, it means to suffer together, to share in the sorrow. And somehow, mysteriously, the sharing of sorrows makes them a bit easier to bear than for one who must sorrow alone.

Sympathy is also a very human thing. All kinds of people can sympathize. People who didn't even know you can sympathize. Sometimes even enemies have been known to set their enmity aside, if only for a time. Yet beasts do not sympathize. It is, I think, a residual part of man's creation in the image of God, who is Himself compassionate and kind to His people. Sympathy in itself, even if it isn't specifically Christian sympathy, is a good thing. It helps define us as the princes of God's creation.

Our thanks to all who have sympathized, and with that the reassurance that, as I intimated above, we do not sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit!

Follow me

In St. John 21:15-19 Jesus asks Simon Peter three times if he loves Him, reminiscent of Peter's three denials and thus grieving and embarrassing him. So should we all be grieved and embarrassed at our failures to fear, love, and trust in Him above all things, or, as Jesus puts it here, "more than these." And yet Peter is right in replying that Jesus knows of his love for Him, for He knows all things. He knows that Peter's faith is born of the Holy Ghost and is therefore greater than his failures. It is a faith born of the triune God, which says thrice that it loves Him.

Therefore it never leads, but always follows Him. Much ado has arisen these days over "leadership" in the Church. The Church does not need leaders, she needs followers; men whose ministry will be beholden only to Him; and faithful who likewise will be willing to submit even to death while following Him. Like Peter, who at his own crucifixion requested that it be inverted, lest it be perceived as too bold a likeness to the Lord he loved.

The sermon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thomas Sunday

The Sunday after Easter is Quasimodo Geniti, more popularly known as Thomas Sunday. How very like Thomas are we: we weren't there; we should have known; we require proof; Jesus in mercy provides us with all that we need. The sermon.

Easter Day

Here's the Easter sermon.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Vigil of Easter

From darkness to light, we welcome the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord at the Holy Easter Vigil. The sermon.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

Of the seven last words from the cross, only the first, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me" is recorded twice--both in Matthew and Mark. The significance of it cannot be overstated. He was earnest in asking, though it also fulfilled Scripture to ask. Why? is the righteous man's plea, and is part of his righteousness: is perfect faith. By this mystery we are granted a God who will never forsake us, though we deserve it. For he gained every right to pray, "Father, forgive them" for all, and "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise" to an individual. His "into thy hands I commit my spirit" shows perfect faith, and his "Behold thy son . . . behold thy mother" shows perfect dedication to duty even unto death. His "I thirst" pertains to his perfect fulfillment of the Scriptures, and his "It is finished" pertains to the perfect sacrifice. The sermon.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Maundy Thursday

The Passover meal reaches its fulfillment in the Holy Sacrament: as the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites when he saw the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, so does God's condemnation pass us by and leave us untouched, for the blood of the Lamb of God marking the doors of our lips. This is why the Holy Supper is the heart and center of everything that is Christian, and our entry into a land flowing eternally with milk and honey. The sermon.