Tuesday, December 9, 2014

God's Word does not say what it says for nothing.


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We give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who has rescued us from the dominion of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, through His blood, the remission of sins.  Colossians 1:12-14

SCRIPTURE doesn't say what it says for nothing.  There are plenty enough thinkers to teach us how to think, and more than enough mentors to guide us on the straight and narrow.  God's Word is not just one more of these and it doesn't say what it says for nothing.  It is the spring of holy wisdom, the source of good strength and the fountainhead of redemption that rescues us from the dominion of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption by the forgiveness of our sins.  Jesus accomplished all of this for us by His death and resurrection.  He did it in order to conquer all evil, all sin, all misery and all death, and to give abundant life to the world.  Jesus is that Life!  He is the King of kings and Lord of all, so however distressing the world becomes, He gets the final word, and you can be sure that it will be a good word, a saving and life-giving one for all who believe and are baptized.

God's Word does not say what it it says for nothing.  When the Lord taught Israel how redeemed people are to conduct their lives there was a reason.  He told the people to remember the poor, to leave some of the bounty of their fields unpicked so that those who have little of this world's goods might have food to eat and wine to drink.

He instructs His saints that they are never to deceive, oppress, rob, cheat, curse or defraud their neighbor.  He sums up this teaching with the words that Jesus Himself would fulfill fourteen centuries later: you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I AM the LORD.

He does not say these things for nothing.  He who created us, who loves us, who judges and redeems us, says them because they do not occur to us naturally.  Quite the contrary, the behaviors which God herein condemns are precisely the things that make sense to our fallen intellects.  If you want to know why the world is so miserable, you need look no further than your own transgression of these holy laws.  God's Word doesn't say what it it says for nothing.  It names our sin so that we might recognize it for what it is, then condemns our bumptious behavior, lest by an unrepentant heart we deceive ourselves straight into perdition.  Above all it provides divine amnesty by the blood of Christ that clears our slates in heaven's court and drains away our guilt and our shame.  It lifts up our hearts when nothing else can and qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  That glorious hope, in turn, supplies us with the needed power to love our neighbor in the same way that we love ourselves.

No, God's Word does not say what it it says for nothing.  In today's Epistle lesson when St. Paul writes about "endurance and patience with joy," there is a reason.  It is not within our nature to endure the things we must in this life, or to patiently wait for the Lord to deliver us, and to provide true resolution to the evil which defines this world.   Our first choice is to be rid of it on our own terms, to take personal revenge on those who wrong us, thus becoming evil-doers ourselves, or to live in denial, or, when all else fails, to intoxicate ourselves into oblivion until all problems disappear; anything but endurance!  anything but patience and the contentment that these virtues impart!

Contrary to all human wisdom, the Word of God teaches us that these are  godly virtues, the very ones that bring us into mature manhood, to the stature of the fullness of Christ.  Not only does Scripture inform us, but because it is God's mighty Word it also instills these virtues in us, and strengthens us in them.  How good for us, because they are the indispensable survival skills that we need until we obtain the hope that is laid up for us in heaven -- when everything that happens in this world will make perfect sense, and when all of our questions will be answered.

God's Word does not say what it says for nothing.  When Jesus teaches us the parable of the Good Samaritan today we should learn from it that He is talking about Himself.  He IS the Good Samaritan, who loved His neighbor more than He loved Himself, and who laid down His life for His friends.  We are those friends.

Unlike the man on the road who was half-dead, our Lord took no half-measures when He set out to obtain salvation for us.  He suffered the full penalty of our sins.  He shed the last drop of His holy and sacrificial blood in answer for our wrongs.  He was crucified, dead and buried.  The curse of the prophet Ezekiel, "the soul that sins shall surely die," fell on Him and not on us, and His death gives life to us.

God's Word does not say what it says for nothing.  The parable teaches us that as our Lord once came, He still comes for us today.  Whatever our current condition He finds us where we are, beaten down by death and sin, and has compassion on us when no one else will.  He still binds up our wounds with His mercy in the church, in the Mass, where He imparts every spiritual blessing to us in Christ, and where He promises to return yet one more time, to give us the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting (Luke 10:35)

This gives us good reason to join St. Paul in giving Eucharistic thanks to the Father who qualified us -- by faith -- to be made partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.  May the knowledge of this blessed position we hold fortify us.  May it give us endurance and patience so that we might run our race with joy today.  AMEN.

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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