Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
EASTER SUNDAY, 1931.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
An announcement. A fact. A promise. “I am come that they might have life.” “He is risen.” “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life.”
It was Our Lord Jesus Christ who made the announcement. It was Our Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. It was Our Lord Jesus Christ who made the promise. The announcement is clear. The fact is certain. The promise is irrevocable. The gift of God is eternal life. It is a gift of God, not of nature. So if we want to think of the gift we must think of the Giver. We must look to God and not to nature. Then we shall understand. There is darkness in nature. But in God there is no darkness at all, but the night is as clear as the day. In Him is life; and the life is the light of men. If we look to nature we may find hope. If we look to God we find realization. Here lies the difference between a pagan and a Christian Easter.
If one may draw an inference from the cards which bear the pictures of rabbits and eggs and flowers, it would seem that the pagan idea of seeking out nature for the secret of life is a popular one. As far as this goes it is right enough. The whole world sings a Benedicite at Easter. God clothes the world with exquisitely beautiful things which He made beautiful because He loves beauty and is Himself Beauty. And we offer Him the first fruits of these beautiful things in worship. Flowers and incense and fire and smoke have their proper use in praising God.
What I mean is we must go to the Author of life to experience life, and to the Giver of life to receive it. It is a gift that only God understands. But it is a gift that we are meant to enjoy. We must receive it and use it as the gift of God. The longer we use it the better we understand it. Only we must not expect to understand it at once. We gain our knowledge of life by living. We live and learn. Yet we live while we are learning.
Our Lord has taught us all we need to know about living the life which He has given to us. The mysteries which are too high for us He has withheld from us. The mysteries which we may grasp He has placed within our reach. Literally they are within our reach, since we have only to reach out our hands to receive the gift of life. Every Christian who has received, the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ has been fed with the Bread of Life which comes down from Heaven. It is this Life which preserves our bodies and souls unto Everlasting Life. Whosoever eats this Food has Everlasting Life and will be raised up at the last day. The Christian has the Life in him.
This Life does two things for us. It overcomes sin. It overcomes death. In our present stage of existence its work is to overcome sin. Sin and life cannot go together. Sin destroys life. So it must be gotten rid of. This is effected by constant supply of new Life, increasing to superabundance, and by its expulsive power casting out sin.
Then when Life has overcome its most obstinate enemy, it sweeps away the last enemy, which is death. We shall have no difficulties with death.
Affectionately in Our Lord,