Wednesday after the First Sunday in Lent
And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14: 22-25
Our unbelieving, “impious” age tends to have a problem believing in the miraculous. This ought not to surprise us: The human mind, in its fallen state, generally has a problem believing in perfectly believable things. The deceit of self-love, our delusional attempts to make ourselves “as gods, knowing both good and evil” blind the mind and soul to the realities of God’s truth surrounding us in the order of his creation and those more perfectly revealed through the prophets and, in these last days, by His only begotten Son. Indeed the Son of God was incarnate to “destroy the works of the devil” whose aim, from our infancy, has been to convince us of this very lie: That divinity consists in rebelling against God; that in knowing something other than God, we can be “as gods”. And yet we are left with this simplicity of this truth: “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” If our end is to be the divine life, then it can only be by the measure of God’s righteousness, it can only be accomplished by our conforming to the image of God and not on the basis of walking apart from God. That God condescended to take our nature upon Himself to teach us this truth, to become our righteousness, is made all the more profound to us when we consider that though our vain attempts to be as God separate us from Him, yet his humbly becoming a man and emptying Himself of His Glory accomplishes the end of making us like Him.
Lent is the Church’s annual reminder to us of the truth of the fall in us; of the truth of our sin and the greater truth and reality of God’s love, witnesses in the redeeming work Jesus Christ on the Cross. George Herbert, that great master of Anglican divinity, reminds us of these two fundamental principles, these “two vast, spacious things” in his poem “The Agony.”
Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.
Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.
Who knows not Love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.
The Rev. Edward Rix
All Saints, Wynnewood