Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"Jesus said to His disciples, a little while, and ye shall-not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father."
The disciples could not understand what Our Lord meant. In the meantime they must wait in faith for Our Lord to make it clear. And this is what happened.
After the Crucifixion for a little while they did not see their Lord. They were overwhelmed with sorrow. Then came the Resurrection. For forty days they saw Him with bodily sight. Then after His Ascension they waited. But this time they waited with joy.
Then came Pentecost when the Holy Ghost came down upon them. After they had received power from on high they saw their Lord with spiritual vision. Their hearts rejoiced. And their joy no man has ever taken from them.
"Ye shall see me, because I go to the Father." "Because I go." This was what the disciples could not understand. They came to understand through their experiences with Our Lord during the Forty Days of Eastertide. Our Lord spent those days with them. He appeared to their bodily sight and senses. He walked and talked with them. Their hearts burned within them. They knew Him. Then He would withdraw His bodily presence from their sight. Then He would suddenly appear.
' Always He was solicitous for their slightest needs. He even thought of their hunger after they had been fishing all night. He was tenderly considerate of their spiritual needs and sensibilities. In every way He was their friend as He had always been. The consciousness of this never left them. They showed by their actions that they were strengthened by a power not their own, but definitely given to them by their Lord.
After this became constant their sense of His abiding presence in them possessed them so firmly that they felt that whether they saw Him with their bodily eyes or not, He was always near them; always with them; always in them. They really believed in His promise that He would never leave them. They were sure of this wherever they might be. They lived on with Him, without interruption. And so when He appeared they ceased to be surprised. He never seemed to come from a distance. It was just as He had told them. "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
After Pentecost His presence remained in the Church which He had built. Our Lord manifested Himself in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. He drew all men unto Him. All over the world the hearts of men burned within them. The Blessed Sacrament became the centre of Unity. On the Altars of the Church Christians beheld the Lamb of God. They beheld and cried, "It is the Lord."
The power of the Presence of Our Lord draws all men unto Him. Men may resist or refuse, but always the power is there. The weary, the heavy laden, the sinful, the sorrowful, the sick, the dying, the dead, for all of these the prevailing Presence continues as Advocate with the Father, as the Propitiation for sinners, as Help of the Helpless. In the last extremities of life and death, the eyes of all are opened, and all know Him. And all cry, "It is the Lord."
This experience repeats itself in the hearts of Christians under conditions of solitude when the outward and visible signs are withdrawn. The inward and spiritual realities remain. In solitude the Christian watches. In silence the Christian listens. In quiet the Christian waits. The Christian speaks to his Lord in prayer. The Lord speaks to the Christian in meditation.
The favors of strength for temptations, consolation for trials, refreshment for weariness, peace for disquietude never fail in times of need. The Christian finds the evidence of the abiding Presence. With joy he exclaims, "It is the Lord."
Affectionately in Our Lord,