God Manifests His Perfect Holiness in Christ through Compassion and Forgiveness
God reveals His perfect holiness in compassion as “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). By His grace in Jesus Christ we are holy just as He is holy (Lev. 19:2) and we are “God’s temple” in whom “God’s Spirit dwells” (1 Cor. 3:16). This gift of holiness begins with fearing, loving, and trusting God above all things and leads us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev. 19:18). No longer should we practice “injustice in court”; no longer should we “be partial to the poor or defer to the great”; no longer should we “go around as a slanderer” among God’s people; no longer should we “take vengeance or bear a grudge” (Lev. 19:15-18). Though we were His enemies, our Lord Jesus Christ has loved us and forgiven us. Nourished and sustained by His holy body and blood under the bread and wine of His holy Supper, we “shall be holy” (Lev. 19:2) even as the Lord our God is holy.
Collect for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany: O God, the strength of all who put their trust in You, mercifully grant that by Your power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for grace and forgiveness: Spare us, O Lord, and mercifully forgive us our sins. Though by our continual transgressions we have merited Your chastisements, be gracious to us. Grant that all these punishments which we have deserved may not come upon us, but that all things may work to our everlasting good; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .
Prayer for obedience to the Word: O holy and most merciful God, You have taught us the way of Your commandments. We implore You to pour out Your grace into our hearts. Cause it to bear fruit in us that, being ever mindful of Your mercies and Your laws, we may always be directed to Your will and daily increase in love toward You and one another. Enable us to resist all evil and to live a godly life. Help us to follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to walk in His steps until we shall possess the kingdom that has been prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns...
Prayer for our enemies: Almighty, everlasting God, through Your only Son, our blessed Lord, You commanded us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us. Therefore, we earnestly implore You that by Your gracious working our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and may be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with Your whole Church; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns...
Monday, 14 February 2011—Psalm 103:8–11; Antiphon, Psalm 103:2–3—That we are called to a life of holiness will be made clear by the Old Testament and Gospel readings. However, to lead a life of holiness is impossible for sinful humanity. But, because the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, He forgives all our iniquity and does not deal with us according to our sins. For this reason, therefore, we are called upon to bless the LORD, O my soul.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011—Psalm 119:33–40—Again this week, a portion of Psalm 119 serves as the Psalm of the Day. In the Hebrew, each line of this section begins with the fifth letter of the alphabet, He (it is pronounced hay, and looks like this: ה). The psalmist, desiring to lead a holy life, a life pleasing to the LORD, calls upon Him to lead me in the path of your commandments. It is only by the LORD’s leading that we are able to do His will, as our will has been corrupted by sin. The author is ever aware that his own works cannot save him; therefore, he prays to God, in your righteousness give me life! Our righteousness and our life come only by the grace and mercy of the LORD.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011—Leviticus 19:1–2, 9–18—In Deuteronomy 7:6, Moses reminded the Children of Israel that they were a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession. In keeping with this status, that was not earned, but given as a gift from God, He now calls them to lives of holiness: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. By virtue of our baptism into Christ, we are the Children of God. And He calls us also to lives of holiness. In this section, our dealings with our neighbors are in view. God has created all people; Christ died to redeem all people. If we mistreat those whom God created and for whom Christ shed His blood, we mistreat Him. Jesus will have more on this subject in the Gospel reading for Sunday.
Thursday, 17 February 2011—1 Corinthians3:10–23—In order to “make it” in the world, we are often told that we have to “sell ourselves”: to show a prospective employer or college recruiter why we are the best and why anyone ought to be pleased to have us. In this case, what is good in the secular world is disastrous in the Church. The Church is no place for anyone to build himself up. Rather, we build on the foundation which has been laid for us by God’s holy prophets and apostles. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the foundation they laid was consistently one that points to Christ, our Savior and our Redeemer. This must be the basis for all teaching and preaching in the Church: Christ crucified and raised again for the justification of sinners.
Friday, 18 February 2011—Matthew 5:38–48—In this continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to a life of holiness when dealing with our neighbors, even those (especially those!) who are our enemies. He points out what ought to be obvious: If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? We are called to a higher standard: to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This, indeed, is what Christ Jesus did for us sinners. Romans 5:8 declares: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. In the same way also, we ought to show love to those around us, whether friend or enemy, especially by the proclamation of the life-giving, saving Gospel.
Saturday, 19 February 2011—Sunday’s hymn of the day, My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker (LSB #820), echoes the Introit, which exhorted, Bless the LORD, O my soul! It is a jubilant song of praise in response to all that the Lord has done for us. His grace and care are endless; He has pity on His children; He puts our sins away. For all this and more, My soul, O praise the Lord!
Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship.
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.