Archive for October 22nd, 2012

Lessons:  Ecclesiastes 5: 10-20   Psalm 119: 9-16 (antiphon: v. 14)  Hebrews 4: 1-16  St. Mark 10: 23-31

There is a study in contrasts between two young men in today’s lessons:  the young man who prayed Psalm 119 and the rich young man:

  • The rich young man was on the treadmill of covetousness going nowhere, the young man of Psalm 119 was on the Way of the Lord going home.
  • The rich young man was restless for more, the Psalmist rested in the more of God’s Word.
  • The rich young man clung to his wealth.  The young man of Psalm 119 clung to God’s Word.
  • The rich young man said he kept the Law,  and it is logical, why bother with prayer, except to use God as his helper.  The young man of Psalm 119 prayed he did not keep God’s law and that’s why he prayed, as God was His all, His help was in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
  • The rich young man’s central concern was the care of riches in the richness of his spirituality.  The young man of Psalm 119 central care was the riches of prayer in the felt poverty of his soul.
  • The rich young man delighted in his wealth, upon which like all servants of Mammon, think and plan about day and night.  The young man of the Psalm delighted in the Word of the Lord and on His Word he meditated day and night.   
  • The rich young man knew only fleeting happiness, the other young man knew by faith the enduring joy of the Lord in His Word.  
  • The rich young man sought wealth and the other young man sought God.
  • The rich young man sought the testimonies of men, the other young man walk in the testimony of God.
  • The rich young man thought good intentions and burning ideals could keep his way pure, the other young man could, “keep his way pure… (only)   By guarding it according to Your Word.”
  • The rich young man had his reward and it was temporal.  The other young man sought his reward and it was eternal.
  • The rich young man knew his strength, his potential, his boundless enthusiasm for good which he thought he brought to God and the other young man knew the goodness of God in His Word to us all and he knew he was weak and the Lord came to him.
  • The disciples lauded the rich young man regarding his wealth as sign of God’s favor, the Psalmist lauded the Lord and sought not the praise of men.
  • The rich young man thought the possible, his own actions.  The only young man sought the impossible, our Lord.
  • The rich young man thought he began his relationship with God.  The other young man knew it was the Lord, in His grace, who made His beginning with him.
  • The rich young man sought works to gain salvation.  The young man of the Psalm lived faith and was saved.. 
  • The rich young man had his own  house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands;  the young man of Psalm 119 had a house, a mansion with many rooms, the Lord’s house and with the Lord, “…houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
  • The rich young man had many possessions which rust and moth rots and eats away;  the other young man has treasure in heaven, Faith, fear and love of God, modesty, holiness in life, discipleship, prayer, Scripture, communion and testament, safe in heaven.
  • The rich young man would be praised today for his spiritual lifestyle of which we could say, Blessed are the rich in spirit but of the young man, the Psalmist it is said by God, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.
  • The rich young man thought salvation was possible on his own and the Law showed him it was impossible;  the other young man knew salvation was impossible and with God all things are possible.

God makes the possible impossible, that is, the world, the flesh and the devil,by prayer, by His prayer from the Cross, It is finished.  The wealth of prayer is yours.
God makes the impossible possible, that is, salvation as He died broke and broken stretched out upon the Cross for us all.
God makes the possible impossible, all our idols and shows them for what they are: tyrants.
God makes the impossible possible, love as the fruit of faith.
Beloved in the Lord!  He has done this all in His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. 

(Comparison above inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s unfinished commentary on Psalm 119)

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This engraving is by Albrecht Durer who is considered to be the Michelangelo of Germany and he was a contemporary of the early years of the Reformation. He was sympathetic to the Reformation.

Frederick III, the Wise (1463-1525)Elector of Saxony from 1486. Called “the Wise” because of his vision and astuteness, which raised little Saxony to the rank of the most influential power in Germany. At the death of Maximilian I (1519), Frederick was offered the Imperial crown, but he declined it. Frederick was largely a nationalist and worked toward strengthening his own government rather than that of the Empire and the Church. He was a devout son of the Church. In 1493, he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and returned with a thumb of Anna, his favorite saint. This he added to the more than 5,000 relics he kept in the Castle Church at Wittenberg. (1) In 1502, he had established Wittenberg University, to which Luther was called (1508). When Luther’s reformatory activity began to attract public notice, Frederick protected Luther. He would have no one condemned unheard and unconvicted, nor would he have an offense that had been committed in his country tried at Rome. (2)Frederick and Luther communicated through Spalatin, Frederick’s secretary. Gradually the Gospel exerted its power on this devout Medieval man and Frederick became a Lutheran in faith—if not in public confession. He abolished the exhibition of his precious relics in 1523 and discontinued Masses in the Castle Church. Two years later, on his deathbed, he received Communion in the Lutheran and Scriptural form. (From Concordia:  The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, Concordia Publishing House)

(1)  “The collection included one tooth of St. Jerome, of St. Chrysostom four pieces, of St. Bernard six, and of St. Augustine four; of Our Lady four hairs, three pieces of her cloak, four from her girdle, and seven from the veil sprinkled with the blood of Christ. The relics of Christ included one piece from his swaddling clothes, thirteen from his crib, one wisp of straw, one piece of the gold brought by the Wise Men and three of the myrrh, one strand of Jesus’ beard, one of the nails driven into his hands, one piece of bread eaten at the Last Supper, one piece of the stone on which Jesus stood to ascend into heaven, and one twig of Moses’ burning bush. By 1520 the collection had mounted to 19,013 holy bones. Those who viewed these relics on the designated day and made the stipulated contributions might receive from the pope indulgences for the reduction of purgatory, either for themselves or others, to the extent of 1,902,202 years and 270 days. These were the treasures made available on the day of All Saints.” (From Here I Stand by Roland Bainton)

(2) After the dramatic confrontation at the Diet of  Wurms, Luther, a declared heretic and under the Imperial Ban, could have been killed on sight, so,                                            “Frederick the Wise had decided to hide him, and gave instructions to court officials to make the arrangements without divulging the details, even to himself, that he might truthfully feign innocence. Spalatin, however, might know. Luther and one companion were apprised of the plan. Luther was not very happy over it. He had set his face to return to Wittenberg, come what might. With a few companions in a wagon he was entering the woods on the out skirts of the village of Eisenach when armed horsemen fell upon the party and with much cursing and show of violence dragged Luther to the ground. The one companion, privy to the ruse, played his part and roundly berated the abductors. They placed Luther upon a horse and led him for a whole day by circuitous roads through the woods until at dusk, loomed up against the sky, the massive contours of Wartburg Castle. At eleven o’clock in the night the party reined up before the gates.” (From Here I Stand by Roland Bainton) Luther was so imprisoned for nine months and he called this castle, “My Patmos” but while there he began another momentous event in the history of the Reformation and indeed, the whole Church:  he began translating the Bible into German.

The Wartburg


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