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Archive for November 1st, 2019

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Doors and doorways and their thresholds are boundaries, from outside to inside, from inside outside. When you hear the knock on the door, and no one is expected, there can be a rush of concern.  When expecting a dinner guest, there is joy of the time ahead, but not knowing the way the evening will actually turn out. When leaving in the morning for work, much is expected and routine but there is always the unexpected.  When leaving for an important doctor’s appointment or leaving to have lunch with your best friend, the threshold is certainly different. Doorways are filled with anticipation, which can be either fraught with worry and fear or pregnant with the hope of enjoyment and a time together with family and friends.

The Beatitudes begin the Sermon on the Mount, or Mountain.  This keynote sermon is the Lord’s first public sermon and Jesus’ Beatitudes are the doorway, the threshold to the Sermon on the Mountain encompassing chapter 5, 6 and 7, and indeed in His deeds and words the whole Gospel for us and our salvation. This is the threshold by which the Lord carries His Bride across into His presence.

Though when He sat down, no one then expected what He would say and teach.  St. Matthew tells us that Jesus sat down,  And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: As the Lord opened His mouth to teach, He opens the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.  Only His Gospel opens the reign of the Lord into our lives by faith through grace.  His Gospel fulfills the Law and the Prophets that the door is opened as He opens His mouth and will be fully opened in His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. On another occasion, Jesus saw many were leaving Him and He asked the disciples, will you leave as well? Peter, speaking in behalf of the Apostles, Lord, to whom shall we go for you have the words of eternal life.

The beatitudes are the Lord’s words of eternal life.  In Advent, in the 4th of the 7th Great O Antiphon, we can pray:

O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, You open and no one can close. You close and no one can open:  Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

Jesus was speaking to prisoners and He described the darkness so that the crowds see the light of His Word.  He came as Matthew wrote,

so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
    the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned
.”

Those who can not open the door to heaven and the kingdom by their own good deeds or spirituality, and none can but only fool themselves, we sing the Truth:

 Jesus sinners doth receive;
Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live
And from God and heaven wander!
Here is hope for all who grieve–
Jesus sinners doth receive.

And He can change us with His breath, the breath of the Holy Spirit. There is a suffocating selfishness in man that only holiness can ventilate and the Holy Spirit breathes into us The Word made flesh.

But those who are filled with themselves, who think their pretty good, who think their righteousness comes from themselves, can not enter the narrow gate which leads to life. 

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. As it is written in Revelation:  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  He opens the door so we can also close doors.  He stands at the door as He is door but doors we must shut: the door to false doctrine and immorality in the disguise of light,  the door to the sins of the flesh as shown us in the 10 commandments…in a nutshell, close the door to the world, the flesh and the devil.  Shutting that door is too heavy for us, but in Christ alone is can be shut: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.

It is clear in the Gospels that Jesus cast out demons as did the apostles. Jesus and the apostles did not dress up as demons, they cast them out. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

God loves the world. It is not an ideal man that He loves, but man as he is; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find abominable in man’s opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, the real man, the real world, this is for God the ground for unfathomable love, and it is with this that He unites Himself utterly. God becomes man, real man. 

If the Lord had wanted only ideal men to come to Him, He would still be sitting on that mount waiting to open His mouth till this day. Jesus did call not saints to Himself, He called to Himself sinners to be sanctified, redeemed by Him to repent and to be His saints.  Those who are poor in spirit, hunger and thirsting for God’s way, those made pure in heart and make for peace in this war-torn world, who stand up for Christ and are then knocked down.  He blessed them with God’s own righteousness. He came not to call the sanctified but to sanctify or make holy the unholy in His forgiveness. He calls not the righteous, but sinners.

  But open His mouth He did:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, mourning, etc…not exactly a recruiting poster for denominational Christianity purpose driven, positive thinking, your best life now as the purveyors of the national religion with their feet planted firmly in their time teach it. but real men and real women, the least the last the lost. “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” is a good recruiting ad.  One who calls us its, the many, the lowly, poor in spirit, mourning at the way the world is to be His saints.  But there is a similarity between the marines and the saints in one way:  both are in formation. Marines stand out, so do Christians.  The saints are not being conformed to the pattern of this present world but being transformed by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s tools are in arsenal of His Word:  faith, peace, prayer, salvation.  The saints are a work in progress, to be saints, but His work always.   Unlike the other Marine slogan, “Never given, always earned”, here it is: Always given, never earned.  And also:  Always given, ever learned, as the saints are disciples, learning and growing in faith and love in the communion of the saints, in the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost, who both and unto the ages of ages is blessed. Amen.

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