Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"Jesus was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake."
The man to whom this miracle was given could not have prayed for it. He was dumb. He could not say, "Lord if Thou wilt Thou canst cast out this devil that possesses me." He could not say by signs, "Lord if Thou wilt Thou canst loose my tongue and give me power of speech." He was dumb.
But worse than his physical disability was his spiritual disability. He was possessed by a devil. He was spiritually dumb. He was helpless in body and soul. This was his one appeal, his helplessness. He was beyond human help.
Only one power could release him. That power was the touch of the finger of God. Only one Person possessed that power. His touch was the touch of the Finger of God. With the finger of God He could cast out devils. For this purpose He came into the world to love us, and to give Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God.
The silent suffering of sorrowful humanity went straight to His Sacred Heart unfailingly. He knew the sins of man and He knew the sufferings of man. He knew the causes. He possessed the power to cure. First He would cast out the devil, then He would set free the captive soul and restore the powers of spiritual sight and hearing and speech. The bodily cures were the outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual cures; the signs of the power of the finger of God.
When outward signs were needed He could give them. But the miracles that mattered most were the inward and spiritual miracles. After that the dumb could praise God. The deaf could hear the voice of God. The blind could see the manifestations of God. These were the things that mattered. These were the greater miracles that overshadowed the lesser miracles. These are the miracles which continued and continue to this day.
The signs of the power of the Finger of God are to be seen in the Sacraments by all men of good will who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, minds to understand and wills to accept.
The second part of the Gospel contains Our Lord's warning that there are perils to be guarded against after a miracle. "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house, whence I came out. And when he cometh he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
The heart from which evil has been driven out must be filled without delay. It must be made one body with Our Lord; that He may dwell in it and occupy it. It must be filled and kept filled with grace and heavenly benediction. The cleansed heart must feed on Him by faith, with thanksgiving. It must continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as God has prepared for it to walk in.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
Saint Paul teaches this mystery of the indwelling life of Christ in the soul as the Christian's hope of glory. It is the joy of Communion. It is the fulness of life. No heart is ever empty in which Our Lord lives.
Affectionately in Our Lord,