Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Homily for St. Romanus, Martyr

Trinity Lutheran Church
Worden, IL

August 6th, 2008

Matthew 10:26-32

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“So have no fear of them.” “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” For Saint Romanus, the converted soldier, these words were all too real. He was martyred. Evil men killed his body, but they didn’t have the power to kill his soul. We, on the other hand, live lives of comfortable security protected from persecution by the Constitution. But then again, while it protects us from men, it cannot protect us from the effects of sin in this world and the fear this puts in us.

There are plenty of things to fear and worry about in this life. You might be fired from your job. Money may run dry and bills left unpaid. Children could grow up and make bad decisions. A loved one could be taken away at any minute. But truly, these are minor cares and worries for they only take their toll on our bodies. And these bodies are bound for death anyway. Jesus says, “Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is the fear that matters.

Who is the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell? It cannot be the devil. Christ has beaten Satan. He’s judged. The deed is done. One little Word can fell him. He has no power over us. So then, the one who can destroy both body and soul is God, the almighty and everlasting. He is the judge. The one who will come to judge the quick and the dead. The one who will come to judge men by their deeds and destroy all those who are not perfect in his sight. He is the one to be feared. For are your deeds perfect? Are you spotless and blameless in the sight of God? Standing naked in front of God with only your imperfect and shameful deeds to cover you is indeed a frightening prospect.

But while he is to be feared, He says, do not fear nor be afraid. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God watches over all living things, and you are of more value to him than they are. Repent therefore from all your sins, take comfort and see what God has done that he is able to love and value you.

God sent Jesus to stand naked on the cross. But he was not really naked, for he was covered in your shameful and sinful deeds. Jesus Christ the Son of God hung before the face of God and was condemned. The wrath of God, intended for you, was sent against Jesus Christ. Your sins were paid for bought with the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Yet, the grave could not hold God. And Jesus came out from the tomb no longer clothed in your sins and shamefulness, but with fresh garments of his own righteousness. And through his Word in Baptism he clothes you with these pure white stainless shameless garments.

This is why he says, do not fear. In those pure white garments given to you by Christ your will be judged at the final judgment according to deeds. But God will look at you and no longer see your shameful and imperfect deeds. He will see you clothed in the deeds of Christ. Clothed in the merits of Christ our Lord and Savior who won salvation for you on the cross. And you will not be destroyed in soul and body but be preserved until life everlasting.

So we rejoice in this salvation and gladly do as Christ our Lord says, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my father who is in heaven.” And what better way of acknowledging God before man than by receiving the things which God wishes us to receive? We come to church and hear God’s Word in the Sermon. We take and eat and drink to our forgiveness the body and blood of Christ. And we live in our Baptisms, daily receiving the promise of forgiveness which he gives. Yes, Jesus gives and gives and forgives and forgives. In these things Christ acts, and by receiving we proclaim to others that He is the Christ.

So we fear the Lord, trusting in His promise when he says to us - Have no fear, for my Son has stilled my wrath and you have life, in soul and body, everlasting.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I like the last full paragraph. Well done.