Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, 1941.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
We have made our visit to the Manger. We have followed to the house in Bethlehem where the Holy Child received the gifts of the Wise Men. We are waiting now for the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, and the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin. We are on the way of following the foot steps of Our Lord's most holy life.
This way will be made clear to us by the calendar of the Christian Year. The sacred events will be set forth in order. The Holy Scriptures will convey the declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye witnesses from the very first.
The Liturgy will guide us in our public worship. The Holy Communion will unite us with Our Lord as very members incorporate in His Mystical Body. He will make us one body with Him, that He may dwell in us, and we in Him.
We do more than the offering of the solemnities of devout commemoration of the mysteries of Our Lord's life. We share them. Our Lord desires to live His mysteries in us. He desires to extend them and perpetuate them in us. He desires to make in our hearts a Bethlehem, a Nazareth, a Calvary, a Garden of the Resurrection, a Mount of the Ascension.
He desires to live His life in us, not only for us, but in us. As we gratefully profit by the outward signs given us as aids to devotion through the symbols of the Church's worship, we must keep the more devoutly the inward reality of Christian worship. The inward reality is the indwelling life of Our Lord in our souls. He dwells in us. This is our hope of glory.
As we follow on from the Manger it will be made clear to us that Our Lord has glorified the common life. He does not demand from us the extraordinary life, but the ordinary life lived extraordinarily well. He will order the way and He will provide the power. He does not demand the impossible. But He does continually make the impossible possible. He grants us miracles of grace. We may face life with courage and say with humility, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me."
The Epistle for the day contains a practical instruction on the way of life as we shall find it. It is the ordinary way of the ordinary life. The manner of living it gives it value. "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
The Christian life is life in Christ. It is hid with Christ in God. It manifests Christ in every thought, and word, and deed. The Christian is unconscious of this. He is not conscious of himself. He is only conscious of his Lord. "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." He is utterly dependant upon gifts of grace. The gifts will never be lacking. Saint Paul was so sure of this.
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us," he writes to the Romans. To the Corinthians he wrote, "There are diversities of gifts; but the same spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."
Whatever the gifts may be, it is the same God working in each. Each gift will bear the impress of God. That impress will appear in certain spiritual qualities.
Simplicity is the first. Mercy, with cheerfulness, kindly affection, joyful hope, patience, prayerfulness, sympathy. These are some of the virtues with which Our Lord taught Saint Paul to glorify the common life. In the exercise of them we shall make the joyful discovery, as Saint Paul did, that the road from Bethlehem is the road to Heaven.
Affectionately in Our Lord,