Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT.
PASSION SUNDAY, 1938.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
This is the proclamation of Passion Sunday. Our Saviour has obtained for us what we cannot obtain for ourselves. His Passion is the price paid for our eternal redemption. The price paid indicates the value of the gift. We begin today to consider the Passion and to meditate upon the meaning of redemption.
The Passion reveals the significance and the destructiveness of sin. Sin is disobedience to the laws of God ordained' by Him for mans' preservation, protection and development. This disobedience results in alienation, darkness and death. It inflicts wounds which cause the loss of spiritual discernment; unregulated animal appetites: distaste for moral goodness: moral weakness which enslaves, enfeebes and perverts the will: incapacitates the soul for right relations with God and man; prevents the soul from attaining the virtues by which it might accomplish the purpose for which it was created: deprives the soul of the capacity for enjoying life in this world and the next: imprisons the soul so securely that it cannot of its own strength escape: plunges the soul into final despair: leaves it in loneliness, a prey to pains of sense and pains of loss.
So terrible is the misery caused by sin, so helpless is man in his enthralment, so great is the love of God for man, that God came down from heaven to save man from his lost condition and to restore him to his lost heritage. "God so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the Propitiation for our sins."
"For us men, and for our salvation, the only-begotten Son of God came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate: He suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven." By His suffering and death upon the Cross for our redemption, He made there (by His one oblation of Himself once offered) a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.
By the merits and death of Jesus Christ, and through faith in His blood, we may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of His passion. So has the ghastly tragedy of man’s sin been averted by the glorious triumph of the Cross and Passion.
The Christian religion is the religion of redemption. The Christian Gospel brings the good news to sinners. The Christian penitential discipline offers the service which is perfect freedom. The Christian Sacraments convey the medicine which cures the disease which is beyond human power to cure. The doors of the Church are the only doors in the world upon which is found the inscription, "him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." The Church is the home of penitents.
To each penitent Our Lord gives the way for bringing forth the works of repentance mete for each. To each penitent He gives the relieving grace which makes expiation and reparation possible and acceptable. To each penitent He gives the yoke which is easy, and the burden which is light. Each penitent knows and sorrows for his sins. Each penitent knows and is trustful in the Passion of the Saviour. Each penitent steadfastly believes in the greatest mystery in the world—the forgiveness of sins.
Affectionately in Our Lord,