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me mercy. No, no; but let us say: I am born in sin and am full of filth and evil lusts. It is, therefore, not vecessary for me first to sin in order to be able to confess myself a sinner. I have, alas, been only too great a sinner from the very beginning ! I am already under the curse of God and condemned to eternal death. Therefore, since God in infinite compassion calls me to repentance, will I now turn myself unto Him and take refuge in this Lord, whose suffering has ransomed sinners, and whose innocent death has delivered me from the death so well deserved and long since merited, and who has reconciled me unto God!
He, however, who abuses this sermon of mercy, and refuses to forsake and confess and repent of his sins, may look upon the murderer on the left of Christ and upon the rulers of the Jews and upon the soldiers, and consider how they fared in their wickedness and what they merited with their impenitent lives. If we would be benefited by the Lord Jesus and by His agony and prayer, we must follow the example of the malefactor who confessed his sins and prayed for grace, and acknowledged that Christ was the Lord and the King of everlasting life. May the dear Lord Jesus, our eternal King, grant us this. Amen.
CHRIST Commirs His MOTHER TO THE CARE OF John.THE SOLDIERS DO NOT BREAK THE LEGS OF CHRIST, BUT WITH A SPEAR PIERCE HIS SIDE, FROM
WHICH BLOOD AND WATER Flow.
John 19, 25–37. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary MagdaJene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy Son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother ! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture migbi be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and tbey filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. Wben Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished : and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was a high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. They came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But wben they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs : but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saiih true, that ye might beliere. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken. And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced.
t. John, toward the end of the passion history, st relates three things, about which the other Evangelists do not write, but which are, nevertheless, very important in point of doctrine and consolation. These also must be considered, that we may have the whole of this history before us.
The first of these things is, that Christ, while on the cross, commends His mother to John, and also John to His mother, so that they might be inclined toward each other as are a mother and her son, and that they might love and in every way assist each other. John tells us too that he immediately took the mother of Jesus into his care and treated her as if she had been his own mother.
This narrative is generally regarded as an illustration of the fourth commandment, which says: “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” With this accords the fact that John lived longer than the rest of the Apostles, namely, sixty-eight years after the resurrection. Although this explanation is not improper as far as it goes, it is still too narrow; for that which the Lord does and says here upon the cross dare not be regarded as done and said for only a few individuals. Christ intended His works and words to embrace the whole world, but especially the Christian Church.
That, therefore, which Christ here says to Mary and John alone, we must regard as a command for all Christians and for the entire Church. Since Christ hangs upon the cross and, by His death, saves us all from sin and death, we must be toward each other like a mother and her son, who in all things sincerely love, aid and advise each other. This is the meaning also of the command which the Lord so often repeats during the last Supper: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you;" “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” The love between a mother and
her children is the deepest and most sincere that can be found.
The Lord uses the words "mother” and “son” with special reference to both parts of the Church, viz., to those who teach the Word and to those who bear. Even as a mother nourishes her infant and diligently cares for it till it is grown up and has become strong, so honest pastors also labor and take pains to teach the people and render them good Christians. Thus Paul calls his disciples, whom he had reared as with a mother's trouble and toil, children, 1 Cor. 4; Gal. 4; 1 Thess. 2. The Church cannot be properly conducted unless they who exercise the office of the ministry have for her the affection of a mother. If they have not this love, the result will be indolence, indifference and unwillingness to suffer. The Lord very explicitly teaches this in the 21. chapter of John. He there commands Peter to preach, but not until He had three times asked him: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” By this question He meant to say: Unless thou lovest the lambs as a mother loves her children, whom she tries to rescue from the flames even at the peril of her own life, thou wilt never be fit for a preacher. In thy office as pastor, trouble, toil, ingratitude, hatred, envy and many a cross will be thy lot. Now, if the pastors have no motherly heart, no fervent love for the flock, these shall receive poor care indeed.
On the other hand, again, they who have not received the command to preach, but stand in need of information and instruction, must deport themselves like sons, suffering themselves to be taught, led, nourished, and cared for in other ways, thus
conducting themselves toward their teachers as a pious child conducts itself toward its mother. True, children's love for their mother is not as great as the mother's love for her children, even as the proverb says: Amor descendit, non ascendit, that is, love moves downward, not upward. Still, nature prompts pious children to honor their parents, and to serve them and yield to them in everything that they desire and need. When this is the relation between mother and son, between pastor and congregation, then all is well.
If, however, the mivisters of the Church are lacking in motlıerly affection, or if the hearers are void of childlike fidelity, it is out of the question that things should go right and that God should be pleased. This we have sadly experienced in the case of the Pope, the bishops and the whole priestly rabble, for they have no such motherly love. They think that the office was given them merely that they might be great lords and live at their ease. Therefore, they not only take poor care of the sheep, but they even, to their heart's content, skin and butcher the lambs in life, property and soul, as we only too well see. Again, we frequently find the deficiency in the hearers, that they, like ill-bred children, do not properly provide for their pastors. This is the case, among us, with peasants, with citizens, and especially with the nobility, who deal so closely, stingily and niggardly with their pastors, that seldom one is found who willingly gives to the ministry as much as he should. And this is done in spite of St. Paul's pointed and earnest admonition, not to communicate sparingly of our carnal things unto them that communicate unto us spirit