Sunday, October 10, 2010

Homily for The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 19)


Matthew 9:1-8; Ephesians 4:22-28; Genesis 28:10-17

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Old Testament, in many and various ways, God dwelt amongst His people. In the beginning, Adam and Eve had a special relationship with God; they had fellowship with God primarily through the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life and by abstaining from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It even seems that God walked and talked personally with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but, the first mention of this in the Bible occurs shortly after their Fall, and they hid themselves in fear of God, knowing their sin, shame, and nakedness, and that they could no longer abide in God’s holy presence.

In Divine Mercy and Holy Love, God took action to right man’s wrong; He made a promise to the devil, to our First Parents, and to all mankind that He would send one from woman’s seed, one that would crush the devil’s head and break the curse that had enshrouded the world. From that point on, there was a sharp divide between those who believed God, whose faith He counted as righteousness, and those who disbelieved. And, great, though imperfect, men of faith marked God’s faithfulness throughout the centuries and millennia, men like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

Then, in the days of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua, God dwelt amongst His people as a Pillar of Cloud by day and as a Pillar of Fire by night. The same Cloud and Fire that had enshrouded Mt. Sinai went before His people as they made their way to the Land of Promise, enshrouding the Tabernacle when the people stopped and made camp and lifting up and moving on when they broke. It was the same Shekinah Glory, the presence of God, which filled the Holy of Holies in King Solomon’s temple, the Glory of God’s Real Presence, though veiled, in the midst of His people.

Because men could not come into His holy presence, God came to men in veiled forms. But, in the Incarnation, God took on the veil of human flesh and became a man: The Word became flesh and made His dwelling amongst us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

It is the Incarnation of the Son of God that is prefigured in Jacob’s ladder extending from heaven to earth. For, Jesus is such a bridge between God and man; for, Jesus is the very gate of heaven. God’s holy angels rejoice to serve us for the sake of the Son of God become the Son of Man. Wherever Jesus is present, there God is present, and there the entire kingdom of heaven is present. And, for the baptized into Christ, that is everywhere! For, Christ fills all things and the whole earth proclaims the glory of the Lord! Where Christ is really present in flesh, blood, and spirit, there the angels of God ascend and descend, there life reigns over death, there darkness is dispelled by light, there is eternity now and forevermore! Truly we must confess and glorify God with Jacob, the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, with all Saints and God’s holy angels, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

The Incarnation of the Son of God changed everything! This is why Jesus says to the paralytic “Your sins are forgiven” prior to healing the man of his paralysis. In the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh and dwelling amongst us as one of us, Jesus is forgiveness. Jesus is life, Jesus is salvation, Jesus is healing, and Jesus is the resurrection now. This He teaches by forgiving sins before healing. This He teaches by forgiving sins in place of healing. “Which is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” It is easier to say that your sins are forgiven, for they are! That is the fundamental reality! Any healing is but a physical sign of a spiritual reality. If the physical healing is not granted, that does not change the fact that you are forgiven. Yes, of course, healing is good, healing is desirable, but even the healed die in the end. Even those Jesus raised from the dead died in the end. But physical death is not spiritual death anymore than physical life is spiritual life; you have spiritual life because you have spiritual forgiveness through the Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of the Son of God and Son of Man Jesus Christ, and that is the Truth that no one can take away from you.

The scribes were right, no one has the authority to forgive sins except God; for a man to claim otherwise is blasphemy. But, Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. And, He didn’t become human to forgive sins, He is the forgiveness of sins in human flesh. Jesus Christ is Peace between God and men, He is the bridge, the ladder between heaven and earth. Thus, it is blasphemy to say that Jesus cannot forgive sins. Jesus is the Gospel, the Good News come into our world of spiritual paralysis; Jesus is the Good News that we are set free from all that, we are forgiven! The scribes, in their zeal for the Law, desiring to protect God, actually deny that God forgives sins; that is blasphemy!

But, Jesus doesn’t hate the scribes; and, they weren’t the only ones who were confused and wrong. So, Jesus gives them the sign; He says to the paralyzed man “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And, he rose and went home. The crowds were astonished! They were afraid. And, they glorified God. But, the great Truth that they walked away with that day was the Gospel, the Good News, that God had visited His people in forgiveness and mercy and they did not perish, and, that God had given this authority to forgive sins to the man Jesus Christ.

But, to give such authority to Jesus is to give it to all men, for Jesus is not simply a man unto Himself, but He is all flesh, He is all men. He is the New and Greater Adam, the Father of us all, David’s Lord; and He is our brother and our neighbor, David’s Son – Son of God and Son of Man. He is Immanuel, God with us. And, He has come to grant us forgiveness, release from the paralysis of sin and death. He has come to bring us spiritual healing now and physical healing now in accordance with His will, but perfect healing and life in the resurrection of the body on the Last Day.

Christ has come to you this day and has raised up your New Man once again in the forgiveness of your sins; and, your forgiveness is as certain on earth as it is in heaven. Now your Lord says to you, “Come, eat my flesh and drink my blood, and live; for, whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the Last Day.” This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! For, the Incarnate Son of God Himself is present in Word, Water, Body, and Blood; and, where Christ is there is forgiveness; and where there is forgiveness, there is eternal life and salvation.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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