God's Will is His Word. His Word rules and governs, informs and defines, and moves all things to their appointed ends. Man too is being moved to His appointed end. And yet what shall that end be? In one way it is the same for all. First there is the death of the physical body. But are we just bodies with ungovernable and pre-determined appetites? No. God respects us more that that. He respects and even honors our intellect and free will so perfectly that He wishes to reward us with what we want. If we have not wanted Him, we shall not be forced to have Him. Life without God, removed from His presence, is called Hell. You can't complain once you are there, since this is what you have spent your life accumulating -an existence without God! God respects your freedom of choice! If we want Him, and have tried our best to repent and embrace His truth, beauty, and goodness throughout our lives, He shall welcome us into His embrace.
Of course, God isn't stupid and so He knows that we are not either. Embracing His way means that we not only believe in Him, but are so completely overawed by His truth, beauty, and goodness, that we come to know that they alone can ensure our return to Him. Knowing God comes through His Son Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ we find His truth made flesh. But there is more. God's truth is His love for us. He loves us to the point of giving Himself completely to us in the suffering and death of Jesus. Why must the Son suffer and die for us? Because it is the only way back to God. Men have tried doing it on their own for centuries, only to fall flat on their faces. To be reconciled to God, we must admit that we are powerless. We are powerless to help, heal, and save ourselves. It takes God's Son to do what we cannot do. In God's Son alone, our sin, our suffering, our death are transformed. No longer do they reveal the final judgment on man’s condition and destiny. Now they can become the triggers and catalysts for new life. Sin, impotence, and death can be faced courageously and defied and destroyed by the righteousness, strength, and new life of Jesus Christ. Death can be swallowed up into life's new hope and future. Satan can be banished to the Hell he has desired and deserves. With some insightful cleverness and wisdom, he might even be seen as what we have sometimes wanted but now reject because we want God and we want Him forever.
Let us, in this Holy Week, choose God in Jesus Christ. Let us learn, however, that if we hope to be with Him forever, we must lose all rights to ourselves in order to find ourselves in Him and in all other men. Let us, in other words, suffer and die in the loving outstretched arms of our Savior, because we have lost ourselves and want to find them in the illuminating wisdom of His uninterrupted forgiveness. Let us remain held tight in His passionate embrace as He brings our old selfish selves to death. Let us move through our death into the new and promising land of Resurrection. So let us remember always that the road back to God is paved with the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the forgiveness of sins. If we do not forgive, we shall not be forgiven, and don't want God. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans v. 10)
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St. Michael and All Angels Sermons