Devotional Thought for our seemingly broken days:
5 A man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 Jesus saw him lying there, and he knew that the man had been sick for such a long time; so he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 The sick man answered, “Sir, I don’t have anyone here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am trying to get in, somebody else gets there first.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” 9 Immediately the man got well; he picked up his mat and started walking. The day this happened was a Sabbath, John 5:5-9 (TEV)
211 Lazarus rose because he heard the voice of God and immediately wanted to get out of the situation he was in. If he hadn’t wanted to move, he would just have died again. A sincere resolution: to have faith in God always; to hope in God always; to love God always… he never abandons us, even if we are rotting away as Lazarus was.
1 It is taught among us that private absolution should be retained and not allowed to fall into disuse. However, in confession it is not necessary to enumerate all trespasses and sins,2 for this is impossible. Ps. 19:12, “Who can discern his errors?”
XIII. THE USE OF THE SACRAMENTS
1 It is taught among us that the sacraments were instituted not only to be signs by which people might be identified outwardly as Christians, but that they are signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us for the purpose of awakening and strengthening our faith. 2 For this reason they require faith, and they are rightly used when they are received in faith and for the purpose of strengthening faith.
I often hear people saying they miss the way church used to be. They may indicate the music or the preaching. Mostly what they long to see are the full sanctuaries on Sunday morning, and church campuses that were busy every day and night of the week. In dact, for a couple decades we can see the phenomena of people moving from one church to another, looking for the one that is coming alive, that seems to have a new life about them.
We want revival, much like the man who was at the pool wanted to be made well, much like Lazarus, to his surprise, found himself alive at the command of Jesus. ( I love St Josemaria’s idea that he could have decided to stay there, as I think it is descriptive of many of us!)
But are we ready for it? Do we really desire it?
For what it will take is the sureness of our absolution. Revival and renewal, whether individual or parish wife, requires something. The realization that every one of our sins are forgiven! Revival, being brought to life in Christ means we know and depend on the promises that nothing, including that sin, can separate us from the love of God.
What an incredible thing these sacraments are, these sacred times are, when we realize that God is at work as He desires to be, awakening and strengthening our faith, our dependence on Him.
For that is what having a strong faith means, we depend on God more, not less. We realize His presence in our lives more, not less. We let Him guide our lives, much like a leaf caught up in a stream…drifts and goes where the current takes it.
This kind of reliance on God’s mercy and love, these things we call grace, is at the heart of every revival, every renewal in the history of the church. It is the hope that underlies the Lutheran Reformation, and the Catholic councils we know as Vatican I and Vatican II. This is Escriva’s “The Way” and what Luther preaches so clearly in his catechesis.
So Jesus says to His church today and to you and I,
“Do you want to be healed?”
“Do you want to be forgiven of your sin?”
“Do you want to be renewed, and revived”
It starts with trusting in God enough to pray, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!”
Holy Father, Lord Jesus, and Blessed Holy Spirit, in your mercy, help us to say yes, letting you in to cleanse us of all sin and unrighteousness, helping us not to fear coming clean as much as we fear to remain trapped in our sin, which drives us apart from you. We pray this in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 922-926). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.