Eph 1:11-14; Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 12-13; Lk 12:1-7
We must be alert to the danger of believers in every age of the church. The danger of compromise with the values of the world threatened the followers of Christ. Not long after the Emperor made Christianity acceptable, the sure choice of martyrdom had ceased among the believers. The courage to stand up before the enemies of the Cross is rare in our church today. In our own day, it is much easier to hide behind the pseudo respect that our world shows to religious people and their leaders. Governments of the world still give a respectful nod to churches and even grant a certain exemption from severe taxation. However, when church leaders go public and make the demand that laws reflect morality, they are stonewalled and marginalized. Yet, the word of the LORD is upright and true. It offers the guidance so necessary for us to be a blessed nation, a people he has chosen for his own inheritance. Indeed, from the heaven the LORD looks down and he surveys all mankind. He knows our ways and he knows our hearts. He summons us to hear the truth that sets us free, to live the truth that alone will bring justice and peace to our land. As Saint Paul reminds the Ephesians, we too are reminded that we were made for the praise of his glory. In our own day the Lord Jesus summons us to live in the freedom of his truth, and to not be afraid of those who can only kill the body but cannot destroy our souls. To live such a courageous life, we must feast at the Table of the Lord, who gives his own body and blood as our daily bread.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One LORD who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will and purpose. It is his good will and perfect plan that we exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. What does it mean to exist for the praise of his glory? It means nothing less than to live and move and have our being in Him who first loved us. Through him, with him and in him we live by the power of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of the Father. Our strength and our courage flow from the mystery of the Cross of Christ. In his crucified and surrendered flesh we behold our new life and victory. We too have been made new in the obedience of the Only Begotten Son. All of our own plans for power, significance, and pleasure have given way to the supreme delight of dying and rising with Christ. Behold even our pain becomes one with the suffering and transformation of the Cross of Christ. What was merely rejection and execution is seen for its true beauty and glory. Nothing is more precious. Nothing is more glorious. In Christ we have heard the word of truth and the Gospel of our salvation. We have believed him that loving surrender to the will of the Father is pure delight. We have trusted that to loose our life is to gain life eternal. To loose our identity in Christ is to find ourselves seated at the right hand of God. Because we have poured ourselves out in loving service we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, this is the praise of his glory. This is the eternal life of glory we share with Christ, the first born of the dead, and with Saint Ignatius and all the martyrs who have gone on before us.
Back then, at that time, during the earthly life and ministry of Christ the Lord, many people were crowding together and trampling one another underfoot. The crowds were overwhelming the Lord and his disciples; everyone wanted to be near the Lord Jesus and his disciples. This public display of approval did not diminish the Lord’s warning, “Beware of the leaven—that is, the hypocrisy—of the Pharisees.” Those who did not join the affirming crowds, the Pharisees had an agenda and a plan to catch Christ in his preaching and condemn him. Their teaching and their influence was powerful, and their power was threatened by the teaching and influence of the Lord Jesus. Yet, the Lord Jesus was not afraid of their threats; he continued to preach and heal. However, if we speak in private and at hidden assemblies the truth of the gospel, we too could become a threat to them. The Lord Jesus wants to encourage us to be faithful in our witness behind closed doors. He assures us that someday we will not fear to proclaim from the housetops. Indeed, we cannot let the fear of threatened Pharisees in any age to keep us silent. They have only the power to kill the body, but after that they can do no more. Indeed, we have only to fear our own fear that keeps us from being faithful to the LORD, who alone can cast us into Gehenna, into burning and despairing separation from the Lord of Glory. It is the Fear of the LORD that enables us to trust that we are never beyond the notice of God. Indeed, he has counted every hair on our heads. The LORD of heaven and earth knows us better than we know ourselves. Indeed we are worth more than anything else in his sight. We are precious in his eyes because we are one with Christ, his Beloved Son.