Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Monday Homily

29 March Anno + Domini 2010
 “How Much More?”
Hebrews 9:11-15 (Isaiah 50:5-10; John 12:1-23)

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
“For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:13-14). 
What a glorious passage to consider as we embark upon the Holiest Week of the Church Year, for Holy Week is about but one thing – the Blood of Christ shed on the altar of the cross to take away the sin of the world. 
That Blood, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us, is a better Blood, a Blood that does more and cleanses better than the blood of the Old Covenant sacrifices.  If the blood of a mere animal could cleanse and sanctify, how much more must the Blood of the very Son of God cleanse and sanctify?
This, my friends, is the mystery of Holy Week upon which we meditate.  In the Old Covenant, it was the blood of goats and bulls, and other animals, which atoned for the sins of God’s people.  That blood was shed and sprinkled upon the altar and upon the people, and their sins were truly forgiven, not because there was something special in that blood, but solely because that blood looked forward to the better Blood to come – the Holy and Precious Blood of the very Son of God!    
That Blood has come.  It is the Holy and Divine Blood of the ultimate Sacrificial Lamb of God, shed on the cross of Calvary, once for all, to take away the sin of the world.  That is the mystery, dear friends, for the Blood shed there does not belong to a mere animal, but to God!  God’s Blood is shed on the cross!  Think about that:  God’s Blood.  It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  How can God bleed?  How can the Creator of all things suffer and die?  How can the Eternal Word of the Father, through Whom all things were made, shed blood?  How can the Author of Life cease to live? 
Of course, you know the answer, for we confess the answer in the Creed each week, that the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, God of God, Light of Light . . . came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  That’s the answer.  The Son of God left His place of glory in heaven to become incarnate in human flesh – to become man. 
But, knowing that answer does not take away the mystery of it all, for it’s well beyond our human comprehension to fully understand this.  God became man.  You figure that one out!  And, if you can figure that one out (and you can’t, so don’t strain yourself too much!), then figure this one out:  God became man, in order to die!  Good luck with that one!  You could ponder that every waking hour for the rest of your life and you would still be dumbfounded. 
But, thanks be to God, you need not figure that out – you need only believe.  And, believe you do, for the One who died on the cross has entered the Heavenly Temple as High Priest by means of His own Blood, and has called you to be His.  He placed His own Divine Name upon you in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, thus bringing you into His New and Everlasting Covenant, that you would receive the promised eternal inheritance secured for you by His Blood.  He can do this, for the Blood He offered is more than enough to purify and cleanse you from every sin. 
And, mystery of all mysteries, that same Blood He offers to you this day.  If the blood of animals, when sprinkled upon defiled persons, could purify their flesh, how much more can the Blood of Christ given you to drink into yourselves forgive your sins and strengthen and preserve your body and soul, unto life everlasting!  How much more?  Eternally more – and then some! 
Come, then, dear brothers and sisters.  Bring your sins, every one of them, to the altar, and have them washed away by the Perfect and Eternal Blood of the Lamb!  There is no better way to begin this Most Sacred Week.  In Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name.  Amen. 

Now the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting.  Amen.

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