Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1931.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The disciples desired the Presence of Our Lord. They were sad when they were deprived of His Presence. They were glad when His Presence was restored. They could not endure the idea of His absence. It was unthinkable and unbearable. His Presence meant everything to them.
To the world it meant nothing. The world rejoiced because it thought He had gone. The disciples rejoiced because He had returned. The world’s joy was to be turned into dismay. The disciples’ sorrow was to be turned into joy. The disciples loved Him. The world did not. The disciples had Him. The world had not. It was faith that made the difference.
It is faith that makes the difference now. “Faith the outward sense befriending, makes the inward vision clear.” And Faith is the gift of God. Faith is not an intellectual attainment. Faith is a Theological Virtue. It is a Virtue which by sheer compelling power lifts mind and heart and will into the knowledge and love and peace of God. Faith is not subservient to the world. It is the victory by which the world is overcome. It is the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become, the Sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name. Virtue means power. Faith is a virtue because it is power to believe. Faith is a God-given power. We look to Our Lord for it. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Both our faith and we ourselves are His workmanship.
We must begin with Him as the first disciples did. This is not difficult to do, because as a matter of fact, He begins with us. We love Him because He first loved us. Discipleship is as simple and as easy for us as it was in the beginning. Some call of Our Lord comes. It comes to each person in some intimate way. It provides a test. It calls for a response. It presents a venture. And for the venture faith is given. And after that faith goes on to the finish. One only has to follow on. Our Lord makes allowances for failures. He knows how to finish what He has begun. If this business of advance in the spiritual life is made the chief business, each step leads to some discovery of some new wonder. One discovery follows another. There are always new wonders at every turn of the road. One is always discovering for one’s self something new about the Sacraments; something new about prayer; something new about the practise of the interior life. It is not really new. It is really very, very old. It is only new for us. We have no doubt often read about it. We have been told about it over and over again. Either we did not think or we did not listen, or we did not care. And then something happened to us. We had to think. We had to listen. We could not help caring. Then at last we understood. It cost Our Lord a Good Friday. But it brought an Easter to us. The secret of Easter is the Presence of Our Lord. In His Presence is the fulness of joy. Life in Him is the eternal Eastertide.
Affectionately in Our Lord,