Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vicarious Substitution

Mass at Carmel began about ten minutes late to-day; Fr Richard is, shall we say, not a morning person!

In any case, the Gospel according to the Novus Ordo lectionary was that of the healing of the leper (St Mark i, 40-45), and hearing it read triggered off my own reflection upon its deeper meaning: Christ our Lord, having stretched forth His mighty hand and worked a miracle of healing, restoring the leper to the assembly of the chosen people of God, perforce has to stay outside the towns henceforth, since the wonder was bruited about: so the healer in a sense becomes the leper - and this is vicarious substitution.  

This was the wonder that God the Son worked for the whole human race befouled by endemic sin: that by His theandric act, dying upon the Cross as our scapegoat and propitiatory sacrifice, He healed us of our guilt and restored us all, that we might be clean in God's sight and assemble as His Church, the assembly of those called forth from darkness and the shadow of death into His marvellous light and kingdom of life.  Mark that, though in the pericope Our Lord had henceforth to avoid the towns, all went out to Him - and so Hebrews ix, 11-13 rang in my ears:
For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate.  Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
As Christians, while in hope we are saved, in the eyes of the world we are as much fools as Our Saviour, fit to be rejected and despised of men.  Yet such is the fascination of Christ, that even nowadays, men and women still venture out of the towns, to come nigh unto the Lord, whatever the cost.  If we desire to reign with Him, we must first bear the Cross with Him, having part (howsoever lowly) in His sufferings, that we may have part in His redemption.  

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