Browsing Pastor's Corner

Red Mass Thank You

Oct 4, 2018

When the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses, the meeting took place in a tent. The actual word for the tent that is used in the passage is Tabernacle, that sacred place which was a temporary dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant…the Word of God inscribed on stone and given to the people.

Now as sacred and holy as that meeting tent or tabernacle may have been, it was a foreshadowing of the greater tent or tabernacle to be erected not made by human hands but the hands of God. And that Tabernacle would not be made of marble, stone, wood and gold…but something more precious and more enduring…flesh, bone and soul.

When the Blessed Virgin Mary consented to being the Mother of God, in like manner when the pillar of cloud descended from Heaven and came to rest upon the meeting tent and Moses, that same presence of God in the person of the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary overshadowing her with His all embracing Glory and thus made incarnate in her womb, Jesus Christ, that same Word of God inscribed not in stone but now made flesh, become human.

In the womb of Mary, there is not only a meeting of God’s divinity with our humanity but a fusion of those two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ we call the Incarnation.

But this is an awesome privilege that is not only reserved for Mary…as the Spirit’s presence upon Moses was not only meant for him but for seventy others…this presence of God is meant to dwell in all people.

And nowhere does that occur and in more dramatic fashion then when receiving the Holy Eucharist we are filled with a greater presence of God, more so in fact than when Mary conceived Christ in her womb, because she had an infant growing within her who had not yet conquered all sin, suffering, evil and death.  In Holy Communion, in the meeting tent or tabernacle of our bodies, the fullness of Christ in victorious and risen form is now present in us.

In a separate passage, Paul mentions the “tent of meeting” or the tabernacle, comparing it to the earthly human body: “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

When Paul says, “The tent that is our earthly home,” he is referring to our earthly body, our temporary dwelling place. Just as the Israelites moved the tent of meeting from place to place waiting for entrance to the Promised Land, believers in Christ are wanderers on the earth—people who are not “at home” in the world and who “seek a city that is to come.” 

But while we seek this city and make our way through this earth to Heaven, the journey is unfortunately filled with many threats and dangers that might harm us and worse kill us. Living in a fallen world with fallen people who are prone to making decisions that not only harm oneself but others and society as a whole, laws are necessary. 

Laws protect our general safety, and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself.  We have laws to help provide for our general safety.

When sin entered into the world, God found it necessary to introduce an enforce a system of law that would not only protect people from the harm they could inflict upon each other, but safeguard their relationship with God, improve it, re-form ourselves more into that likeness of God in whose image we were created.

The most dramatic presentation of God’s law prior to the Incarnation was the Ten Commandments. However, the Incarnation is that same love of God now in flesh form…the law was not only given by God but is God and modeled for us perfectly in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Law is a good thing, in fact the absolute best because ultimately all law falls under the same umbrella and that is the Law of Love.

As Jesus says on the night of the Last Supper: 33Little children, a new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

How is this a new commandment? Has it not always been man’s destiny the reason for his creation to love and be love? What makes it new is that in the Incarnate person of Jesus Christ, God loves in human form so that we has humans can fully love in Divine Form…filled as we are with that same Spirit of God who descended upon Moses and the Elders, the Blessed Virgin Mary and now all of us…especially by way of the great Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.  As Saint Paul re-iterates:

“Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

And notice, like last week’s Gospel, that Jesus addresses the Apostles as Little Children to emphasize the point, that there is no worse breaking of the law than when a child is harmed…as Jesus insists today:

There is that reference again to children…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea.

To be thrown into the sea is the equivalent of breaking the law and being thrown into jail…who aspires to have that happen to them…and yet, prisons are overflowing. But as bad as that might be, Jesus reminds us there is something worse…way worse than to be thrown into prison or even the sea and that is to be thrown into Gehenna or Hell where their worm does not die and the fire in not quenched.

I am sure we have all had the unfortunate experience of being brought before a judge of some kind, a principal perhaps in school for some violation…the fear we experienced or when we see those flashing blue and red lights in our rear view mirror and how instantly nervous we become.

If we fear humans being placed in positions of such authority to pass judgment on us regarding our short-comings and violations of the law, can we even begin to imagine being brought before the judgment seat of Christ who is absolute, perfect and pure truth?

What is crime if not sin? Sin is the great violation of the law of love which impacts our relationship not only with God and each other, but all creation.  We are familiar with the phrase crimes against humanity which sadly became a popular term during the Nuerburg Trials that followed World War II?

At Calvary we were all found guilty of sin…but Christ was given the death penalty for our crimes...that we might live...we made bail because of the payment He made in his own blood...there is nothing more costly than our salvation. Our get out of Jail free card is not so free then. .  As the Book of Revelation reminds us regarding Jesus and what He accomplished for us:

for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God

those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.

10You made them a kingdom and priests for our God,

and they will reign on earth

Thankfully or mercifully, God does not provide us with His law to cause us more fear in a world that seems to breed it more and more each day with the evil in it, but to cast out that fear.

And this is why the Psalmist can say today the laws of precepts of the Lord bring joy to the heart.  Reducing all laws into two...Jesus says:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

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