daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Thursday, the Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist, October 18, 2018
2 Timothy 4:9-17, Psalm 144, Luke 10:1-9

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted


"After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'" (Luke 10:1-2).

Today is the feast of St. Luke, the evangelist. St. Luke preached the gospel in writing. He is one of the four evangelists, one of the four authors of the four Gospels.

In today's gospel reading St. Luke tells us how Jesus sent out seventy disciples to preach the good news of the kingdom of God, and he said to them:

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Luke 10:2).

The harvest is the souls of those who are ready to hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus tells his disciples that there are many such souls that are well-prepared and disposed to hear the good news if only there were someone to preach it to them.

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few" (Luke 10:2).

In today's Office of Readings we hear a homily of St. Gregory the Great on this verse of St. Luke's gospel. He says that although the world is filled with priests, "yet in God's harvest a true laborer is rarely to be found." There are many priests, he says, but few really preach the gospel. So pray, he says, "that after we have taken up the office of preaching our silence may not bring us condemnation from the just judge."

But what exactly is the gospel, the good news that we are supposed to preach? What is the missionary message that Christ sends us out to proclaim to the world? At lauds on today's feast the Scripture reading is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, in which St. Paul tells us what the essence of the gospel message is:

"Now I would remind you, brethren, on what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast - unless you believed in vain.

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Here St. Paul tells us what exactly the gospel is, namely that Christ died for our sins and rose again, as the Scriptures foretold. This is the gospel with which St. Paul evangelized the world. This is the gospel that people received from St. Paul and through which they were saved, namely that Christ died for our sins and that on the third day he rose from the dead. Here is the very essence of the good news, of the gospel, that will save us and all who accept it with faith. This is the gospel that St. Paul himself received from those who were Christians before him and that he now passes on to the Corinthians and to all to whom he preaches.

But what is the significance of the phrase "Christ died for our sins?" Our sins are our worst enemy. They stain our conscience and throw us into depression. We can't forgive ourselves for them. We can't clean ourselves from them, and they will be punished forever in hell when we die. Serious sin puts us into a terrible state for which there is no earthly remedy. Even psychologists and psychiatrists can't cure us of our guilt problem for our sins.

So what hope is there for us, for we are all sinners? Who has been able to avoid sin for the whole of his life from his earliest childhood up to the present day? No one! We are all sinners! "None is righteous, no, not one," says St. Paul (Romans 3:10). Who can save us from the weight and depression caused by this guilt?

There is only one person who can save us from the burden of guilt for our sins, and that person is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, because he is both God and man and he died for our sins. He died to save us from our sins and from the guilt that we carry with us because of them.

But why is his death is so important, and how does it save us from our sins? Christ's death is important because only his death saves us from our sins and makes us truly righteous again. No one else's death can do this for us, since only the Son of God is able to do this.

But how does Christ's death save us from our sins and make us splendidly righteous again? It does this because God decided to make up for our sins by sending his own only Son to be born on earth as a human baby, grow up, teach us the truth about God and about human life, and then be put to death as a criminal, instead of us, for our sins, as our representative and substitute, to suffer our full and just punishment for our sins for us. Christ suffers our death sentence for our sins for us so that God, the divine Judge, can justly set us free from them. God is perfectly just and in justice all our sins need to be justly punished, or else God would be unjust in forgiving us without due punishment.

So how does this work in practice? We are sent by Christ into the whole world to preach the good news of our salvation in Jesus Christ to all peoples. The good news that we are to preach is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. So repent of your sins (stop sinning) and put your faith in Jesus Christ, and God will count Christ's death on the cross as your death for your sins. If you believe in him, God will credit your personal account with Christ's death and mark you down as acquitted and righteous, because your substitute, Jesus Christ, paid by his death your debt with God for your sins. So God considers you now as righteous, and he reckons your faith to you as righteousness. God reckons Christ's perfect righteousness to you for your faith, because of what he did for you on the cross.

This is the essence of the gospel that we are to preach to the world, namely that "Christ died for our sins." So believe in him so that you might benefit from this good news.

At midmorning prayer today we read:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live'" (Romans 1:16-17).

We are to preach the gospel. The gospel is filled with power for salvation to all who believe in it. In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. That is, if we believe in the gospel message, we will see God's righteousness revealed to us, and we will see that we are made righteous by God through our faith. The righteous one shall live by faith. He shall become righteous by his faith in Christ, because of what Christ did for us on the cross. There is no other way to become righteous. Only Christ's death makes us righteous, and this being made righteous by his death for our sins only happens to us by our faith in him.

The first petition at lauds today is:

"Let us sing a song of praise to our Savior, who destroyed the power of death and made clear the path of life and immortality through the gospel."

Through the gospel Christ destroyed death's destructive power over us and opened up eternal life for us. It is through the preaching of and believing in the gospel that this happens to us. It is through Christ's atoning death on the cross, accepted by us by faith, that we sinners are made righteous and heirs not of hell forever, but of eternal life with God in heaven forever. It is through our acceptance of the gospel by faith that we are saved and made righteous.

The entrance antiphon today is:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation" (Isaiah 52:7).

This verse is fulfilled in the mission of Christ's disciples. It is the feet of the evangelist who walks over mountains to bring good news and glad tidings to people who have never heard of Christ. He comes to bring them the gospel of how they can be saved by faith in Jesus Christ, because of his atoning death on the cross for our sins.

Here, then, in the words of St. Paul, is the simple and powerful gospel of our salvation:

"If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved" (Romans 10:9-10 NRSV).

Justification and salvation from sin will be yours if you put your faith in Jesus Christ. Christ does the work. Our part is only faith for our justification and salvation from our sins. Our faith connects us with Christ's work on the cross for our salvation.

We have already passed from death to life when we believe in the gospel:

"Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24).

It is our belief in Christ that removes and forgives our sins and enables God in all justice to declare and make us righteous. So we pass from death to life by believing in him.

So believe in the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and genuinely repent of your sins (stop sinning), and you will be justified and saved from your sins. You will be declared and made righteous.


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