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Archive for March 1st, 2015

St. Mark 8:  “And He began to teach them that the Son of  Man must suffer many things…” 

One of the words that has become used a whole lot more in the computer age is “template”. 

noun:  1..  pattern, mold, or the like, usually consisting of a thin plate of wood or metal, serving as a gauge or guide in mechanical work

 2. anything that determines or serves as a pattern; a model 

Jesus is pointing His disciples to His Cross looming in the future and in the distance.  The Gospel of His prophecy of His death and resurrection will be the template of salvation. His cross, His suffering many things is the things of God, God’s mind and His mind is made-up:  He saved you and will. 

His Word is the template for your salvation, the joyous word of your forgiveness in Jesus Christ, the way of the Cross is the baptismal path.  And in the way that is just and so justifies, makes us right by faith.  This Gospel, in fact all the  Gospel, written and taught and preached and administered in the Sacraments is the template of His Cross.  I know I have pointed out before the floor plans of the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe and America is cross-shaped.  The cross is the template of the Church, His Temple, His Body.  This is the template of each life within Christ’s Body.  In today’s Gospel is the precise moment in which the Lord began to teach His suffering:   rejected, killed, buried and risen. 

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Our Lord asked a rhetorical question which begs no answer because it is self-evident that the question itself is  the answer:  when a man wants the whole world, he will lose his own soul in forfeit to get it. Satan certainly knows the Faustian bargain which is no deal!   We all get it.  Even folks who are not “religious” or spiritual get it.  We see it played out, repeatedly, in the courts of public media and opinion. It is the Faustian bargain.  Losing one’s soul for gaining the whole world is Satan’s real deal and the soul lost is hell…or even a piece of that pie. This is piously lamented as the succession of sports figures, movie and television stars, politicians and the like rise and fall is played out, shaking heads in self-righteous indignation thinking Oh it’s not me.  Yet, we know it can be. 

 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:  33.   Jesus triumphs over Satan and the world. He teaches them He must suffer many things…the must is a must, it is a divine necessity. Why?!  Sin must be accounted for and the judgment of it.  God is the just judge.  And the suffering begins almost in the next verse:  His own disciple, Peter, who had just confessed Him as the Christ, rebuked the Lord. Rejected, killed, shamed is no way for a Messiah to act!  You are thinking like men that a glorious escape, which leaves iniquity, unaccounted. Therefore, Jesus suffers the torment of temptation from a disciple, a friend. He must for He must save Peter, you, and me. He has, you can count on that more than anyone can count on the stock market or the weather forecast. 

What is the world?  Answer:  it is God’s good creation, pulsating with His life and love.  Nevertheless, the “world” in the hands of  man bent on being God as Satan promised, the world became something else:

“In this creation, life is received in faith as the sheer unmerited gift of God and then shared as freely as it is given in love for the neighbor. If you take creation, subtract faith, and love from it, the remainder is “the world.” Take away faith and love and the creation becomes clueless about God and itself and ends up looking to itself and when it “gets religion”, as the saying goes, the world makes itself into a god. “A god,” says Luther “is whatever you look to as the source of your good.” In addition, what creation, minus faith and love, looks to for its good is itself. And just so, creation becomes “the world”. The “world”, theologically is the creation bent on being its own god.” (Pr. Louis Smith). 

“I’ve given you everything, the best years of my life” “I’ve scrimped and saved and what thanks I do I get?”  “Oh, this is to die for” And each one of us will but that is not the final chapter. 

God entered fully into the world, the Greek word for world is cosmos.  As in “cosmetics”.  The world apart from God, its Creator, knows how to look good, enticing, well, tempting; it is said we are “self-made” men and women.  But it is death. We look for easier and less astounding ways, the easy way out, but that is not just.  A trade-off, If I do this, then you will HAVE it all, that is the template of the world, and that is bartering, dealing not saving grace. God’s law kills us with that truth concerning iniquity.  Thinking the things of man, like Peter, our minds are made up. We want it all and want it now. You can, says someone, for a price, a steep price that looks like a deal at the start. However, the price is the soul.  Then one is sold. What can a man do?   For what can a man give in return for his soul? Another question, which is its own answer, a man can do nothing.  However, God can and has.  Bought for a price, a steep price.  What’s teh price, as the Elizabethans would say, “God’s blood”.  He became sin and died, a must.  The template of His Cross and Resurrection is not only seen but also first heard, Scripture is summed up by the Catechism and for us today, look at the back of the bulletin please, the 2nd article of the Creed:

What does this mean?  Answer:  I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.  He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and delivered me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death; in order that I may be wholly His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

This template is our daily life in Jesus Christ and it is baptismal and related to the 4th Chief part of the Catechisms, especially this Q and A:

What does such baptizing with water signify?–Answer.It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?–Answer.  St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6We are buried with Christ by Baptism into deaththatlike as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Another Elizabethan, Shakespeare wrote:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.”

The brave in Christ Jesus do die many deaths and will taste of life forever:  Jesus Christ.  Dying and rising is our wet walk in Baptism and not to be ashamed of it, but  proud of His love which has loved us to the end and will forever. His blood teaches us we are His.    St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York: unmistakably a cross, a cross in the midst of Vanity Fair, unashamed. Around it buildings tower over that church.  Cathedrals have spires:  and the cross points us to heaven. And as tall as the skyscrapers are in NYC round about finally only point to themselves.  Many of the cathedrals have at the entrance a baptismal font:  the way we enter and are His people.  Our cruciform lives pointing others to heaven:  Jesus died and rose for you.  Plainly.

 

 

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