Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday in Advent 1: The stained cloak

Opening Sentence
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Isaiah 40:5

Commemoration: Francis Xavier and Others
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servants Francis Xavier, Robert Morrison, Karl Guetzlaff, and James Hudson Taylor, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the peoples of Asia. Raise up, we pray, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 20; Psalm 21:1-7; Psalm 21:8-13

Lessons: Amos 5:18-27, Jude 1:17-25, Matthew 22:15-22

What is meant by "a cloak stained by corrupted flesh" [ESV, "the garment stained by the flesh"]? This is said of those who have a life stained by the lusts of the flesh. We all have clothes which bear the marks of our life, whether we are righteous or not. The person who has a clean cloak is one who leads a pure life, whereas the one who has a soiled one has got mixed up with evil deeds. Or a cloak may be soiled by the flesh if the latter is formed in its conscience by the memory of those evil deeds which spring from the flesh and which still work on the soul. Just as the Spirit can make a cloak for the soul out of the virtues which come from the principle of incorruptibility, so by analogy the flesh can produce an unclean and soiled cloak from the lusts which belong to it.

Maximus the Confessor

The stained cloak is our flesh. However, we are not called to hate our own flesh as such but only the fact that it has been stained by sin, and we are called to work for its cleansing, so that what is carnal may become spiritual. However, this cannot be done in our own strength but only by the power of God, as Jude goes on to say in his closing blessing. . . .

Jude is right to say this ["Now to him who is able to keep you from falling. . ."] because the more careful we are in what we do here on earth, the more fully we shall rejoice in the blessing which we shall receive in the future. . . .

This [final] verse [from Jude's epistle] gives equal glory to the Father and the Son in all things and for all time and eternity. By saying that glory, majesty, dominion and power should be attributed to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, Jude is refuting those who believe that the Son is inferior to the Father. As he goes on to say in conclusion, the Son does not have his beginning at some point in time but has been there from all ages, is there now and will be there forever. Amen.

On Jude

In the Blead Midwinter