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Archive for December 21st, 2016

  Almighty and ever-living God, You strengthened Your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in the resurrection of Your Son. Grant us such faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that we may never be found wanting in Your sight; through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  

Appointed Scripture for this day:  

Judge 6:  36-40

Psalm 139: 1-12

Romans 10: 8b-15

St. John 1:  35-42a

All four Gospels mention St. Thomas as one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. John’s Gospel, which names him “the Twin,” uses Thomas’s questions to reveal truths about Jesus. It is Thomas who says, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” To this question Jesus replies, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:5-6). John’s Gospel also tells how Thomas, on the evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection, doubts the report of the disciples that they had seen Jesus. Later, “doubting Thomas” becomes “believing Thomas” when he confesses Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:24-29). According to tradition, Thomas traveled eastward after Pentecost, eventually reaching India, where still today a group of people call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” Thomas was martyred for the faith by being speared to death. (Collect and Intro from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:

The first Latin words  of this Great O Antiphon is: “O Oriens”.  “Oriens” can be variously translated,”Dawn”, “Rising Dawn”, “Rising Sun”, “Dayspring” etc. “Oriens” is the Latin basis of our words, both noun and verb, “orient”.   We are oriented facing the east…for from the East has come our Savior. “Orient” can mean both “east’ and the “rising sun”. I find it most interesting the ancient understanding that we are found facing East, from which has come the Light of the Word. The west has been considered in Church history as the haunt of the demonic.  In the eastern Orthodox Churches, in a Baptism, the catechumen will face the west and the priest will physically turn him toward the east:

The sponsor, holding the child who is to be baptized, faces to the west (rear of the Church); as does the Priest, who asks the following questions thrice and they are to be answered each time by the sponsor.

PRIEST: Dost thou renounce Satan, and all his Angels, and all his works, and all his service, and all his pride?

SPONSOR: (Replies for the child) I do.

PRIEST: Hast thou renounced Satan?

SPONSOR: I have.

PRIEST: (Once) Breathe and spit upon him.

The sponsor, holding the child, then turns to face the east (toward the Altar); as does the Priest, who asks the following questions thrice and they are to be answered each time by the sponsor.

PRIEST: Dost thou unite thyself unto Christ?

SPONSOR: I do.

PRIEST: Hast thou united thyself unto Christ?

SPONSOR: I have.

PRIEST: (Once) Dost thou believe in Him?

SPONSOR: I believe in Him as King and God.

We all need to be so oriented.  We need to spit upon the devil and “his empty promises” (from the Lutheran Baptismal rite) who wants us lost, disbelieving in Christ and found in the devil’s unholy kingdom. Thomas was not with the apostles when the Lord  first appeared.  It was not until 8 days later that Thomas was  with the Apostles, the Church. Apart from Christ, and the apostolic Word,  Thomas was lost and in the dark. Apart from the utter grace of God, we are lost.  

Thomas was disoriented and firm in his disbelief and error. He was in a sense a thoroughly going modern man.  He did not believe the report of his fellow apostles, nor the faithful women.   Thomas said he would not believe unless he could put his hands in the Savior’s wounds.  When the Lord appeared in the locked room, the Lord invited Thomas to put his hands in His Wounds.  Then Thomas cried out, My Lord and my God. Thomas believed and he confessed Jesus is very God from very God who in His wounds bore the sin of the world.  His Wounds are the light of the Savior and our salvation, “…to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death”.  

We live in a disoriented time and culture that has lost its way, and lost its Way which chooses the way of death in its video games, its movies and in abortuaries.  May the Way of Christ, the truth and the life, be our light day by day orienting us toward His Kingdom!

Roman Catholic theologian,Hans urs von Balthassar wrote that in this dark,moonless night, it makes no sense not to use the flashlight the Lord has given us.  His means of Scripture, Prayer, Sacraments, Confession and Absolution, Preaching and Teaching of Law and Promise are the Holy Spirit’s means orienting us to Himself, the Christ, so we can ever find the Way as He did so for Thomas.  

O Lord, may we shine Your Word for others as well to find the Way Who finds us all.  O Lord, Your Word is lamp unto our feet, a light unto my path  and the light of our souls.

Oriens means East, the Rising Dawn, the Light of the World and Sun and Son: Christ was born for this.

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