Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1941
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The forty days of Eastertide were days of manifestations of Our Lord's Resurrection. He apppeared to His disciples. They saw Him and were glad. As it had been in Bethlehem so it was then. "He was in the world, and the world knew Him not."
The shepherds and wise men saw Him and adored Him in the mystery of His Incarnation. The disciples saw Him and adored Him in the mystery of His Resurrection.
For them the forty days were days of sorrow turned into joy. Their Lord had risen and appeared unto them. The forty days were days like the former days. The discipleship which had seemed broken forever was resumed as though nothing had happened. But something had happened. Just what it was would make itself evident before the forty days were over.
The discovery was this. It was the discovery of a new life and of a new joy. There was joy in the old life of discipleship. But the world had taken all the joy out of that life. The new life had a new joy. That new life and that new joy the world could not take from them. Both were in their secured possession. They knew it. They were glad.
But how did they know it`? In the first place they saw the Lord. St. Mary Magdalene saw Him. St. Peter saw Him. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus saw Him. The disciples in the upper room saw Him. St. Thomas saw Him. The five hundred saw Him. They had all that joy.
They had something else over and above that. What was it? It was newness of life for themselves. The former things had, for them, passed away. All things had become new. Ask St. Mary Magdalene. Ask St. Peter. Ask the disciples who had forsaken Him and fled.
But we do not need to ask. We can see for ourselves as we read the Eastertide Gospels. We have only to keep in our minds the last events of the Passion. The panic stricken flight without farewells. And then to contrast all that with the Easterday meetings. The old relations were resumed as though they had never been interrupted. The conversations were calmly continued without a single reference to past failures.
There was the same understanding love and sympathy; the same generous trust; the same mutual confidence. The Easter forgiveness brought a new revelation of the love and gentleness and generosity of God.
Truly the forty days of Eastertide were days of newness of life. It was the newness which made the difference for the first disciples. They accepted it without a tremor of hesitation. They never even referred to it, so far as the records show.
They rose and walked in the power of their Lord's Resurrection. They walked straight into apostleship, discipleship, martyrdom and sainthood. They preached their Gospel as eye-witnesses. They knew the certainty of those things wherein they had been instructed. They had perfect understanding of all things from the very first.
We must keep all this in mind during the great forty days of Eastertide. The forty days of Lent are given to us for acts of penitence for the forgiveness of past sins. The forty days of Eastertide are given to us for acts of faith in walking with our Lord in newness of life in the power of His Resurrection.
We are to school ourselves in the practise of keeping repentance and faith in true balance. The emphasis on faith is the keynote of Eastertide.
Lent and Eastertide devotions are inseparable. Repentance and faith develop the humility and charity which will make us receptive to the good desires that God puts into our minds, and to the help that God puts into our wills to bring them into good effect.
Affectionately in Our Lord,