Sunday, April 11, 2010

Homily for Quasimodo Geniti (Easter 2)


John 20:19-31; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 John 5:4-10

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

What do you crave? What do you desire? What do you long for? Maybe you crave chocolate, or ice cream, or peanut butter. Maybe you desire fame, or power, or money. Maybe you long for love, or companionship, or completion. Cravings, desires, and longings are innately selfish, that is, they are primarily concerned about what the self wants, what the self needs, and what the self requires. Human beings are quivering masses of wants, needs, and desires – we all have them, all the time. In our day to day lives, however, we have to control our appetites, our cravings and desires, that’s what it means for us to mature and to become civilized. If we do not learn to discipline ourselves, to control our appetites, then we become sociopaths and criminals and addicts; our appetites and our desires to have and to consume end up consuming ourselves and, consequently, those around us.

Of course, what you crave, what you desire, and what you long for does matter – some things are good for you, other things are not. Those who satisfy their craving for broccoli will likely be better off than those who satisfy their craving for chocolate covered bacon. But then again, cravings, desires, and longings for anything worldly or creaturely will not satisfy unto everlasting life and will always leave you wanting and needing more.

Your Lord says “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it,” and you will be satisfied. But you are not satisfied. Jesus died for your sins, He is raised for your justification, His hands and side pour forth Holy Gifts from Holy Wounds – water, blood, and Spirit – but you crave, desire, and long to be filled from other fountains. “All this ceremony and sacrament, this is all fine and good, but it doesn’t move me the way I think it should; I want something different.” “Pastor’s a really smart guy. He quotes the Bible and talks a lot about Jesus, but he always talks about sin and how bad I am and his sermons don’t help me in my day to day life. I want something different.” “Why do we have to do the same liturgy every Sunday? Why do we have to have communion every Sunday? I’m bored with our worship service. I want something different.” This is not the food I desire. This is not the drink I crave. I, I, I, me, me, me! Repent. The gifts of God in Jesus Christ are not about you, but they are for you. Repent. Repent of expecting God to conform to your standards. Repent of craving after constant “proof” that God is on your side. Confess your own blindness, your self-interest, your self-infatuation, your “woe-is-me” attitude. Repent and beseech God for the gift of true sight, the gift of faith, which sees that which is unseen, which sees the love of God in Jesus Christ poured out on the cross and raised from the tomb for you.

This is why St. Peter exhorts you, like newborn infants, to crave, desire, and long for the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God. A newborn infant is the epitome of selfishness, he is concerned only and completely with his own hunger, his own thirst, his own want, his own needs, and desires, so St. Peter is not exhorting you to something unfamiliar or to something that you are incapable of. In fact, the newborn infant is all need; he cannot provide food, drink, shelter, and clothing for himself, and, if left to himself, he will certainly die. The newborn infant must receive from another or he will die. And, mother’s milk is the purest, most wholesome nourishment that the newborn infant can receive, thus St. Peter exhorts you, like newborn infants, to crave, desire, and long for the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God. It is only good to be selfish for the Lord’s gifts, His Holy Word and His Holy Wounds; there is enough and more for every newborn infant ever born.

That first Easter evening in the upper room was all about the Holy Wounds of Christ, which is to say that it was all about Jesus, crucified, died, risen, and present in His flesh and blood bearing the wounds of His death. Jesus showed His disciples his nail-pierced hands and His sword-pierced side, then He proclaimed to them “Peace be with you.” This was not some friendly greeting, this was a proclamation of the truth – The Peace of God was literally with the disciples, standing in their midst. It is Christ’s wounds that have secured our peace, and it is from those wounds that His peace flows.

It was that Peace that Jesus ordained His apostles to bring to His people, the Peace that is the forgiveness of sins, as He breathed upon them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” And, it is that Peace that I, a called and ordained servant of the Word, am commanded and set apart to bring to you this day – the Peace of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ. This Peace is testified to by the Holy Spirit who is sent forth from the mouth of God with His Holy Word. This Peace is testified to by the water of Holy Baptism, which washes away your sin and joins you into Jesus’ death and resurrection. And, this Peace is testified to by the blood of Holy Communion, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins; “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”

These are the gifts that Christ freely gives, and like newborn infants, you are to long for this pure spiritual milk. That is, you are to depend completely upon the gifts that flow from the Words and the Wounds of Jesus. Your sustenance, your safety, your very existence depends upon Him. What you feel that you want or need is blessedly irrelevant. Your Lord knows what you need and He gives to you all that you need to sustain your bodies and lives. You are called to die to your self and live to God, for in His Holy Word and Holy Wounds is plenteous forgiveness, life, and salvation, for today, and for all eternity.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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