Monday, July 6, 2015

When words fail us

SONGS OF THANKFULNESS AND PRAISE

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen 1 Timothy 1:17

THE sentence we just heard is one of St. Paul's many doxologies.  Whenever the subject of God's mercy is more than he can express; whenever he is stumped and unable to explain the inexplicable, he resorts to doxology; to hymns of prayer, praise and thanksgiving.  Today's text is one of many:  To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen

In the year 625 AD, Pope Boniface could do no better.  He wrote a pastoral letter to King Edwin of England urging that he and his people should accept the same Christian faith his wife, the Queen, professed.  His letter begins like this:  "The words of man can never express the power of the supreme Divinity, abiding in His own greatness, invisible, inscrutable, eternal, such that no human intelligence can understand or define how great it is."

Like St. Paul, he was bewildered; and so are we all when it comes to comprehending the Almighty.  Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus we are slow to understand the Scriptures, and so should ever remain, except that in cleansing water of baptism we are given two vital gifts: the Spirit of God and the Mind of Christ...so that we can know God as He wants to be known and worship Him as He wants to be worshiped.

To be sure all men believe in God, even atheists, but blinded by His power and intimidated by His judgment, they know nothing of His love.  However when we know and believe that Jesus is the mediator that God gave to redeem fallen creation, given to spare us from an eternity of world history, to save us from the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels, then we can join St Paul in singing doxologies to the God who loves us and unites Himself to us in Christ.

What we need to understand is what a mediator is.  When God pledged to deliver the world from death and the devil He pledged to give us nothing less than Himself!  In the Old Testament animals were the mediators.  Though they were innocent of any wrong, their blood was drained, and they were put to death in the stead of sinful men, sacrificed in order to save men from the consequences of their scheming hearts, but animals could never forgive sin.  Instead, the Old Testament sacrificial system was a prophecy of the coming Christ and the Mass He would offer, once and for all, on Calvary's wooden altar.

In another of his great doxologies St. Paul says it like this, "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared He saved us, not because of righteous works done by us, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

Now let us consider even more deeply what a Mediator is.  The rebellion that Adam initiated by his sin created a Great Chasm between God and man, one that seems to get wider and deeper with each passing day as men reject the Bible and burn with hatred against the faith and morality it teaches, as they show ever greater disdain for the sacred and lustily embrace the profane and the unnatural.  By sin men are disconnected from the source of life, cut off from all that is peaceable so that they cannot attain it.  That is why we live out our troubled years like we do, like a leaky boat adrift in a stormy sea with no stability, security or hope of survival, but Jesus closed the Great chasm, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood given on the cross to reconcile us to God and given for us Christians to eat and to drink for life and salvation.

Yet it is not only what Jesus did that calls forth our songs of praise today, but also Who He is.  He is, "true God begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man born of the Virgin Mary," which is the catechism's way of saying that Jesus is God and Man in One Person.

Mark that well, dear Christians!

Jesus is true God and true Man in One Person!  God and Man who were formerly divorced are re-united in Him, not just in theory, but in fact; in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ where humanity and divinity peacefully and blissfully coexist, and the gospel is this: that we who are made one with Christ by faith are also one with God, saved from death, saved from judgment and reconciled to the Immortal, Invisible only Wise God; and so  it is with good reason, with very good reason indeed, that we join the communion of saints in singing songs of thankfulness and praise to the King of Ages.

Yes, we are now one with Christ and one with God, and what began in the water of salvation is maintained in Christian worship, the very thing we are engaged in at this time, for it is the only channel by which God disburses His holiness to us, the only divinely chosen means by which He continues to pardon, strengthen and console us, for "we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment."

Only let us be vigilant so that the riches and the cares and the pleasures that the world offers us might never cause us to reject the grace of God, the grace that He distributes in this holy house.  Let no weekend retreat, or desire for sport or for money or for rest steal the treasure from us.  Instead let us be imitators of St Paul who was an imitator of Christ.  Let our lives be ordered around our God and His will for us, not only in holy worship, but in holy service to one another through the vocation each is given by God.  Let us love one another, not in word only, but in deed and in truth for this brings honor and praise to the Immortal, Invisible only Wise God, who makes Himself visible to us in Christ, and immortal like Himself.  Amen

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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