Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20:19-23 (NAB)
So rejoice my friends, based on your confession and your faith in Christ hear these words. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. adapted from the Lutheran Liturgy, Confession, and Absolution
22 We urge you, however, to confess and express your needs, not for the purpose of performing a work but to hear what God wishes to say to you. The Word or absolution, I say, is what you should concentrate on, magnifying and cherishing it as a great and wonderful treasure to be accepted with all praise and gratitude.
It is necessary to discover anew the meaning of the scandal that enables one man to say to another: “I absolve you from your sins.” In that moment—as, for that matter, in the administration of every other sacrament—the priest draws his authority, not, certainly, from the consent of a man, but directly from Christ. The I that says “I absolve you …” is not that of a creature; it is directly the I of the Lord. I feel more and more uneasy when I hear the facile way in which people designate as “ritualistic”, “external”, and “anonymous” the formerly widespread manner of approaching the confessional.
It does seem scandalous, every Sunday as I stand in from of my parishioners and guests, and dare to forgive their sins. Who am I to have just a great task. Or worse, in those times where people aren’t repentant, to hand them over to Satan for a season. ( 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Thes. 1:20)
But who am I to dare tell Joe that his sins are forgiven? What if he is a man who cheats on his wife, or is verbally abusive toward his co-workers? What if he’s been stealing and breaking into houses, or cheating on his taxes? What if he constantly gossips about political figures?
How dare I stand there, look at him, and say, “I forgive your sins…”
Luther has it correct, the focus is not on me, but on you hearing what God desires you to hear. You are freed from the bondage you put yourself into by sinning. The eternal consequences have been transferred to Jesus on the Cross, they are not yours. You need to cherish these words, value them as life-giving, life-restoring. It is a spiritual form of CPR and first aid.
Pope Benedict seems to resonate with these words as well, as he discusses the delegation of Christ’s authority (see Matthew 28:18) to forgive sins is given to the pastor to use, for the benefit of God’s people. THe “I” there is no longer dustin the sinner, but it is Jesus speaking to you.
His authority, His message, His decision.
You are forgiven.
It is finished.
For by the stripes Jesus bore, you have been healed!
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
67 Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: “Do you also want to leave?” 68 Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. 69 We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-69 (MSG)
257 The Lord, the Eternal Priest, always blesses with the Cross. (1)
Last night, as we gathered in Bible Study, we talked about Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12. We talked of how he had a thorn in the flesh, and how he begged the Father in Heaven to remove it, not once but three times. Each time he received an answer. Peter had a similar discussion once with Jesus as well, three times having to hear an answer. We all laughed, knowing that some of us need to hear what has to be said 4 or 5 or even 211 times. Jeremiah accused God of deceiving Jeremiah. St Josemaria tells us that Jesus always blesses with the cross…. but that means there is a cross.
Yeah, there are days like that. Days were we have to give voice to that which flows from our hearts. The pains, the doubt, the brokenness. We can’t bury it, we can’t just ignore it, and let our hearts harden, for then they will surely shatter.
There are times where you have to exhale the poisons in your system, before you can breath in the Spirit. You have to let it go (O gosh – not that phrase! 🙂 ) Prior to seeing the answer that is there.
In the gospel reading above, the crowds have abandoned Jesus. They don’t want to admit the depth of their need, a need that can only be met through the body and blood of Christ be given and shed for us, to be more than just those who observe, but those who are joined to Christ’s death, that we would be joined to His resurrection. With all abandoning Jesus, He turns to the last dozen…..and offers them an opportunity to leave the pain, to leave the discomfort of the message that challenges their nicely fabricated holiness.
Somehow Peter gets it right, No, not somehow rather by God’s grace.
Where else could we go Lord? The best hope we have, the only hope, is to walk with you, through whatever it is that opposes us. It’s the cry of faith, that God is God, we aren’t, and so we trust in Him. Or like a paralytics father cried out, “Yes I trust in you Lord, help me to trust in you!” As odd as it seems, we need the times in Elijah’s cave, we need to have rants like Jeremiah or Moses or David. We need to have the times like Peter on the beach, and like Paul struggling to really hear God, distracted by a thorn in the flesh.
I think that cry of faith can only come from the point where we know nothing else, Where we are broken and weak, the place and time we’ve given up on trying to do it by ourselves. It is then we look up and see that God’s been there all the time. It is then we hear His words, and know they are the words of life. It is then, as we feel His embrace, that we know His mercy, love and peace are endless. Sometimes we don’t realize the value of that, until we face walking away from it.
And then – our hearts lifted by the the words of life, we find ourselves given that life, dwelling in it, for we walk in the presence of God.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Location 1254). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Thought of the Day:
As I peruse my fb page, and I see the “soundbites” that proliferate it, many include a call to make a choice.
Some call to make a political choice.
Some call us to make a purchase – making a choice to spend money so that our life will be perfect. ( I tend to block MLM posts quickly)
Many call us to make a moral choice, or urge others to make a choice, or even to force them to make a choice.
These are choices that fellow believers would have us make – stating how critical they are. These choices are not critical! For a believer, for one in a relationship with God, there is only one decision.
All three readings today talk of it – and why we make the one we do:
Joshua said this “choose this day whom you will serve,”
Are you going to choose to walk with God, or will you continue to follow some other god, made in an image you find palatable. Remember – he is talking to people who have seen God at work, who know His love. He’s not speaking to unbelievers, those unfamiliar with His love and power. Yet we, like those who heard these words, struggle with listening to God, to following His call, to giving up all the things that burden and distract and enslave us. Until we realize what the apostles did, when they too were faced with the decision. Here is that account.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
You’ve come to know He is God, that His words bring life….that’s what you need to know, as a believer, how to live.
Choose wisely…and know His love and mercy never will fail you.