30 November 2010

Homily upon St. Andrew's Day - 2010

[John 1:35-42a]

A God who is everywhere is as useless to you as a God who is nowhere.  What you need, and need desperately, is a God who is somewhere.  A located God, coming to you in grace and mercy.

“We have found the Messiah” St. Andrew tells his brother, St. Peter.  “He brought him to Jesus.”

Finding Him and bringing someone else to Him only happens when you know where He is.  Andrew didn’t have any doubts about that.  St. John the Baptist had pointed Him out:  “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  And so Andrew and another disciple had followed John’s pointing finger to the – to all outward appearances anyway - unremarkable Man, and began literally walking behind him, going where He was going.  “What are you seeking?” He asks them.

He asks us much the same.  What are you looking for?  For indeed, He will be a bit of a disappointment to you if you’re looking for anything else other than the presence of God in human flesh and blood.  He’s not the quick fix or easy answer to the problems that you tend to obsess upon.  Rather, He challenges your thinking that those things are so big and important.  I think it’s great that Andrew doesn’t ask for anything more than this:  “Where are you staying?”  Where are you located?  Where can we find you?

“Come and see!” He invites and off they go to find where He was staying, where He was located.  They spend the day there, listening to Him speak, but most of all:  simply being with Him.  And something clicked for them in that.  They realized in a way that they likely never had imagined that life itself was different now.  Just spending time with Him and listening to Him – being in His presence – it changes you and it discloses to you exactly what life itself is made for.  For that’s it!  We were made to be in His presence.

This is what was lost in our first parents.  This walking with God in the garden in the cool of the day and conversing with Him and just being with Him.  And behind all the intense longings of this world, this is the hidden longing.  “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our souls are restless until we rest in You.” – St. Augustine.

And that restlessness leads us into all kinds of sorrow, all kinds of mischief.  We do some mega stupid things to try to quiet it and sometimes when stupid doesn’t work, we try stupider.  But they’re all doomed to fail.  Every last one.  That ache inside?  It is only quenched by one thing:  the One for whose companionship you were made.

How well did old David confess this!  “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Or even more explicitly:  “Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire besides Thee.  My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.”

And not to know where this One is located so that you can be with Him – that is agony indeed.  And so when you find Him and spend time with Him, suddenly Your heart swells with a joy that cannot be kept to yourself.  This is not just what YOU were made for; this is what EVERYONE was made for.  Hence Andrew’s immediate confession to his brother:  “We have found the Messiah” and he brought him to Jesus.

Oh, people loved by God, if our confession of the Christ has grown weak, might it be that we have forgotten where He may be found?  If we follow John’s finger to the Lamb of God, where do we arrive but at this altar.  “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us, grant us Thy peace.”  Here we kneel down and experience the most intimate communion imaginable.  The Son of God, the very One Andrew followed, He comes to you here with His body and His blood – the body and the blood that He assumed for your sake from the Virgin’s womb, the body and blood that He offered on Calvary’s tree to free you from condemnation, the body and blood that were raised in glory and exalted to the right hand of the Father – this He comes to give you and He puts it right into your mouth with His promise:  “for you, for the forgiveness of sins.”  And so He bodies and bloods you to Himself.  "Because I live, you will live also." One body with Him.

How can we not, then, with Saint Andrew, walk away from this house where Jesus is staying and go into the world and announce to our families, to our friends, to our neighbors, to our parents and our children, that we have found the Messiah?  He is not long ago and far away.  He is here and present, continuing to teach us in His words and to impart Himself to us in His body and blood.

We too can “bring them to Jesus” for we know now where He is, and we know that this is what life itself was meant to be:  communion with the Son and the Father in the Holy Spirit.  God bringing us not that which solves the pressing issues that WE think we face, but God simply in unfathomable love giving us Himself that we might have the joy we were created for in the first place.

Which is to say, knowing where He has located Himself in grace, let us leave this place, crying out with David, Andrew, and all the saints:  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in Him.”


Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Herberger on "Invenimus Messiam":


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William Weedon said...

Amazing. I love Herberger and I cannot thank you enough for giving us his gems in English, Matthew!