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Saturday after Lent IV, March 17, 2018, Deuteronomy 34:1-12

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Posted: Sunday, March 18th, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

It’s party day. People are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with parades, alcohol, all sorts of fun and games. It’s practically Irish Independence Day. Faces are painted green, corned beef is devoured, and everybody pretends to be Irish.

What would St. Patrick think? Today the Church has us read about the death of Moses. Somewhere in his 5 books we’re told he was the most humble man ever. In the end he died alone on Mount Nebo and was buried by God and no one knew the tomb site. That’s how a humble man would want it. After all, Satan had every intention to turn his tomb into a site of pilgrimage, which is why he argued with St. Michael over the body, as Jude reports in his Epistle.

What comes to mind when you think about Moses? We tend to think of him as a lawgiver. He may have been Egypt’s crown prince, but he gave it all up for his people. After 40 years in exile he was sent by God from the burning bush to lead His people Israel to freedom. He led them to Sinai. There God gave Him The Law, The Ten Commandments. He began to give him rules for the civic and religious life of the people, rules He continued to give during their 40 years in the wilderness.

But would Moses want to be known as a lawgiver? Not necessarily. For he did not write simply to tell you rules you must keep lest you make God mad. He wrote The Law in order to write The Gospel. The Law by itself cannot save you. It can only tell you what you need: a Savior. If you try to use it to earn eternal life, you will not win the battle, for your soul is full of wicked desires. You were born with no love for God, and this affects you all your life. The Commandments want you to admit you cannot deny your flesh the way God wants you to. They want you to admit that God is holy, and you are not.

So Moses then comes in to speak of a Prophet like him Who is coming after him, about a woman’s Seed who will crush the serpent’s head. That’s why he wrote. That’s what St. Patrick preached. The woman’s Seed crushed the serpent’s head. The Son of The Virgin crushed the devil’s power. With a tree he urged us to sin, so with a tree God saves us from sin. He urged us to eat a forbidden fruit, so God urges us to eat the fruit of Jesus’ Passion. By a tree the devil killed us, so on a tree Christ quickened us.

So we rejoice. We rejoice that the Gospel has come to us. Faithful men like Patrick have delivered Moses and the Prophets, the Apostles and Evangelists, to us. These writings save us. They tell us how Jesus saved us. They are the content of the message we are to proclaim in church and school and missions, at home and away. Christ Jesus died to save sinners, of whom I am chief. He humbled Himself to the death of the Cross, to hell itself, to exalt you to heaven.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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