Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33
Our precious Saviour teaches us with these words which are found written in today's gospel, that we must first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things shall be given. We know that with the kingdom of God is understood first the kingdom of grace or true and living Christianity, as the Saviour has established it, and which was spread by His disciples through the preaching of the gospel, and explained more broadly in the holy Scriptures. This kingdom of heaven, of which the Saviour speaks so often, should be found in a person's own heart if he has become a Christian and a child of God. So testifies the Saviour Himself, when He says to the Jews, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20,21
If now the kingdom of God is within us, then we should strive after this, that the kingdom of God would come into our heart, that we would come to feel the power of the kingdom of God in our hearts, which is to be the temple of God and God's dwelling place. And how else could this come into our hearts, if not in that way, that we strive after it, that we first become Christians and children of God, so the kingdom of God would come to us and we would become a partaker of the greatest power and honor of the kingdom of God. When now the Saviour tells His disciples to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, it signifies that they must strive after Christianity, or be diligent to beg, to hasten, to strive, to cry out and to knock upon the door of heaven, and to pray to God that he, through true penitence, repentance, and living faith, could receive his sins forgiven, would become a partaker of God's grace, and thus would find the kingdom of God in his own heart. To whom, now, that kind of a change of heart and mind happens, or who first strives after Christianity and becomes a Christian, to him is given all these natural possessions; he becomes rich through Christianity. But a natural person does not believe that he will become rich through Christianity, but he thinks that a person becomes poor through Christianity. Natural intellect says thus, "Whosoever is zealous after the world, he should become rich, but he who does not look out for himself, he will become poor. Whosoever is covetous in gathering the substance of the world, he will become rich, but he who gives away his own, he will become poor. Whosoever works diligently will become rich, but he who does not work, he will become poor." Therefore the natural person concludes that he will become poor if he should begin to be delirious in this way like these pietists. The enemy has painted such apparitions before the eyes of the slave of the world that he believes all the lies which are carried along the road by the sorrowless. If one word is spoken to the slave of the world, to that is added ten more lies before it has gone a league (6ž miles), and every lie of a slave of the devil others believe, as Paul testifies that the god of the world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so they must believe lies. Therefore if one word is spoken to the whiskey merchant, to cease from that ungodly whiskey business and become penitent and make repentance, then he says, "If I quit my whiskey business I will immediately become poor." That is always the first word from the mouth of the whiskey merchant when he is asked to make repentance. "I will become poor if I must quit my whiskey business." But the whiskey merchant does not count how much goes into his own mouth and how much the devil of honor takes of what the devil of greed has gathered with crooked whiskey business. If it is said to the drunkard, "Cease from drinking that flowing devil's dung and become penitent and make repentance," then he answers, "Is liquor not God's blessing; is that what you call . devil's dung?" Not even the drunkard believes that he becomes poor through drinking, but through the Christianity he would immediately become poor. If it were said to a meek whore, "Cast away your finery and become penitent and make repentance," then she will soon show her pass, with which she can travel freely in the kingdom of the whores, and says to her advisor, "Look at your ass, I have earned my finery respectably, I have certainly not stolen it." She speaks of having respectably earned it, although she had earned it by adultery, for the meek whore does not believe that she will become poor through adultery. If it is said to the slave of the world, who is so zealous after the world and working greedily that he does not have peace during the day nor rest at night if it is said to him, "Become penitent, you slave of the world, and do not kill yourself with endless sorrow," then he answers, "Must we cease from doing work and lie idle as the pietists?" The devil has given the slaves of the world that faith that the Christians do not work but lie idle and eat what belongs to others. Therefore the Saviour becomes a liar since He has said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." It signifies that a person becomes rich through Christianity. But the slave of the world thinks that he will become poor if he begins to be delirous as these pietists are delirious. Namely, the slave of the world does not remember how much work has been neglected in dances, weddings, taverns, and many foolish trips which would not have been done if the prince of the world had not reversed their eyes. In that place where he thought he would best gain goods of the world, in that place he just came into misfortune. So the slave of the world has figured wrongly, that which he thought was coming to him for gain, that came to him for misfortune. What he thought was coming to him for honor, it came to him for shame. As for example, the drunkard and the whiskey merchant when they must pay a fine, and the meek whore when she has a bastard child. What the devil of greed brought in, that the devil of honor took away; whatever finery increased the honor, that adultery destroyed. So all has gone backward from what old Adam has contemplated.
Now since the eyes of some have been opened through this Christianity which now has appeared, many can see how foolishly old Adam has figured: it has gone just the opposite from what he has thought in sorrowlessness. Oh! If from now on the people would begin to become wiser! If the words of the Saviour would be rightly understood, then all these natural possessions will be given to those who first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Through Christianity a person must become rich, no matter how the natural intellect opposes. But as the natural goods do not come without seeking, so also the kingdom of heaven does not come without seeking, and therefore the Saviour has said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these others will be added unto you." Oh, if all the poor pagans would begin to seek the kingdom of heaven, so that they would become rich and gather all kinds of spiritual goods, which rust nor moth corrupteth nor thieves break in and steal. All poor and beggars who want to become rich begin now to seek imperishable goods, not from the bosom of the earth, where the earthlings dig for themselves perishable goods where they think they will find a treasure trove, but when it is beheld in the daylight it is only a charcoal pit. But you must seek from above the imperishable goods which neither rust nor moth corrupt, nor thieves break in and steal. And those few souls who have found those imperishable goods, pray the great Crossbearer that He would protect their most precious goods so that the great thief of the world would not be able to steal them. May that exorbitantly rich man hear the sigh of the poor, miserable, beggarly, and down-pressed ones. Our Father, etc.
The Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34
In today's gospel the Saviour warns His disciples of that ageless sorrow of natural livelihood. He tells them to take an example of the birds of heaven, who neither sow nor reap, and of the lilies of the field who do not spin and are nevertheless more beautiful than Solomon, the great lord. In accordance with these teachings we must, at this time, through Godīs grace observe: The birds of heaven and the lilies of the field.
The First Consideration: The birds of heaven, who feeds them in the time of frost?
The Second Consideration: The lillies of the field, from where do they receive their beauty? May the great Creator give His grace, that the birds of heaven would always be able to twitter to the lone traveler, when he longingly travels from the heathen land to the new Jerusalem, and that a weary traveler would find some flowers of eternity when he sometimes travels on the verdant meadow. These flowers of eternity will be planted upon his grave.
The First Consideration; Of the birds of heaven: Who feeds them in the cold weather? The Saviour has said, "They neither sow nor reap." They must be lazy about working, since they do not sow, but whosoever begins to consider their nature, he soon notices that the birds of heaven are not lazy, as the crows and magpies imagine. Surely they do not sow or reap, but they nevertheless are in unceasing work, as we see how the swallow, with especial diligence, gathers from the earth and heaven all kinds of building material and substance of livelihood. From the earth they find all kinds of building materials from which they build their nest. And it is one example which we must take from these birds of heaven, as for example the swallows and nightingales, that they live in matrimony two and two, always in pairs. They are not like the crows and magpies who gather at mating time and again scatter. But the swallows live in matrimony and raise their young together, so also the nightingales and other chickadees always live in matrimony and take care of their young. Therefore from where have the magpies, crows, and other beasts of the forest learned such a trick that they live mixed up like animals? The crows and magpies certainly do not live in matrimony as the chickadees, swallows and water fowl. But the magpies and forest devils are quite the whores, and such are also the crows and magpies which here laugh around the church.
Another example of the birds of heaven that we must take notice of is that the swallows do not lay their eggs until the nest is finished. Who then taught the cuckoo to place its eggs in the chickadee's nest, a great trouble for those chickadees who are left to incubate the cuckoo's eggs and bring up its young. The cuckoo certainly does not care for its young, nor does it take care of them, but lays its eggs stealthily in the chickadee's nest and leaves its eggs there. Is it any wonder that the young of the cuckoo starve their foster mother, for the young of the cuckoo have such a big stomach that the foster mother can in no wise feed them. She herself must starve since the young of the cuckoo swallows all the food substance which the foster mother brings to the nest. And what do the young of the cuckoo do when they grow bigger? They leave their foster mother to die. Such is that unthankful cuckoo; it is almost like the dragon which lays its eggs in the sand and leaves the eggs there. There are also the same kind of two-legged creatures here, who lay their eggs before the nest is ready; do the swallows and chickadees do so? They are not swallows, they are not chickadees, who lay their eggs before the nest is ready. They must be some owl who lays its eggs before the nest is ready, or else some unthankful or shameless cuckoo, who does not have time to build itself a nest: she cannot take time from cuckooing and eating, she does not have time to incubate the eggs, but lays them in the chickadee's nest. No doubt there are also some dragon-like creatures here, who lay their eggs in the sand and leave them there I think that from the dragon's eggs young of the dragon will come forth, which will eat the chickadees, and such terrible creatures lie now in the sunshine and pierce those who go by with their sharp tongue and bite with poisonous teeth, and no one kills them.
But now we must speak of those birds of heaven which live in matrimony and do not lay eggs until the nest is ready. Where do the young of the swallow get food and how do they live since they do not sow or reap? Our Saviour has commanded to take an example of the birds of heaven: who will feed them when all the food is gone on the earth? That great Creator who has given them life will take care of them so that not one dies of hunger, and also to the young of the raven He gives food at the acceptable time. Have the young of the raven merited food, who do not thank their Creator for the light, as the chickadees which twitter in the morning as soon as the sun rises, with a clear voice singing a hymn of thanks to that great Creator for the first ray of light which awakens them in the nest. So do the swallows also, but the young of the raven let out a terrible sound when some sheep or other animal is killed by the wolf. Then the young of the raven are happy, in that hope that they, too, can eat the carcass along with the wolf. Have such terrible birds merited food, as the young of the raven and the owls, which love the darkness and hate the light? The owls do not dare to move about much in the daytime, but in the time of darkness, then they are on the move. Their eyes cannot stand the light although they have large eyes in the skull. Do you think the owl is a beautiful bird, which twists its neck and looks backwards? Nevertheless, even to this night bird is given its alloted share.
The owls are not all gone yet, although they have tried to get rid of them. But the swallows have not built their nests around the church, but farther away, and in other villages they have built their nests. Nor do I know what could be the reason that the swallows are not seen here around the church, but only crows and magpies. And here they caw every day as if they were in need of food, and if some chickadee were in their company, its voice could not be heard because of the cawing of the crows.
Now you chickadees and nightingales, swallows and other small birds, wherever you are, you must soon leave and go to another world; for that reason you have no worry as to how you will be sustained during cold weather when all food is gone on the earth. You no doubt know that this time of grace is so short that you do not have such a long time before you will be able to move to a warmer climate, which is on the other side of the earth. As soon as the young of the swallow can fly, they will get away from this cold climate to the other world. Therefore they are without worry as to how they will be sustained, for they know that the great Creator, who has given them life, will feed them with the seeds which fall from the field which the Lord has allowed to grow. From those seeds the chickadees get their sustenance for that short time that they are remaining here.
But the crows and magpies, how will they be sustained when this short and unpredictable time ends? They do not eat those seeds which fall from the field, but they eat only worms which are in the manure, or they are another kind of a bird, and even blacker than these crows, of which the Saviour has said that the birds of heaven ate that portion of seeds which fell by the wayside. So I believe that distress will finally come to the crows and magpies when winter comes. Then the chickadees will be far away, on the other side of the earth where the sun stands overhead, and there is the tree of life which does not shed its luxurious growth of leaves, and manna which came down from heaven. There the chickadees and swallows and nightingales will sing the new song to that great creator, who has given them life and feeds them so abundantly without their sowing and without reaping.
Behold the birds of heaven, you of little faith and of weak faith; take heed of the birds of heaven, and take an example of them, how the Lord feeds them although they do not sow or reap. You, too, beg for the blessing of the Lord, then you will receive, you doubting and unbelieving ones.
The Second Consideration; The Saviour says to the disciples, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." But a grown person, whose heart is very attached to the world, does not look upon the flowers; he does not take an example for himself from them and think if he, too, was so beautiful as these despised flowers, but he only tramples And dungs on them. No matter how attractive and beautiful the flowers of the field would be, the slave of the world does not care for them. But if a meek whore comes into a boutique where the merchant of the world has spread out the silk kerchiefs and other finery, then the eyes certainly turn in the skull like an owl. The lust of the eye becomes so great that if she does not get one of these silk kerchiefs by stealing, she must begin to buy one; even if it is her last quarter, she will spend it. She no doubt thinks, "What shall I do with money?" But it does not come to mind, that what shall I do with finery. However, many a meek whore has had to sell her finery at half price when the bowels begin to be empty, although the natural intellect should say that much to them, that the money which is spent on finery in the youth would be more necessary for the children, since they go around naked, nor is there food to put into the mouth. But the devil also confuses the natural intellect through the lust of the flesh, and makes a person so blind that he looks with the desire of the eye upon those flowers which the master of tricks has painted upon silk kerchiefs and calico rags. But he does not look at all upon those flowers which the Saviour has said to look upon, that they could take some example for themselves, if they too could become as beautiful and lovely as these despised flowers, who cry every morning over sinners and pity them because of that nakedness which came upon them through the fall into sin, when they lost their beautiful clothes of innocence, and had to cover their shame with finery which they themselves made. Do you see, you grown person, how the innocent children, who do not understand to long for that outward finery, admire beautiful flowers when they find them in the meadow. From them they make crowns for themselves and keep them as something. They understand to behold the beauty of flowers better than a grown person. And where does this come from that a child looks on the flowers with a good will, but a grown person does not care about them anymore than an ox or a calf? It comes from this, that a grown person's heart is fastened to the world. He does not keep God's created flowers to be beautiful, but those he keeps to be beautiful which the devil of adultery has taught the world's master of tricks to paint, promoting finery.
The Saviour has said that the beautiful lord Solomon was not as beautiful as the flowers which grow in the field. Therefore, behold the flowers of the field, you children of the world, and take an example of them, how beautiful they are and lovely; they toil not neither do they spin. However if you would become as beautiful as one flower of the field, you would be acceptable for a bride for the Saviour. Go to seek the beautiful and lovely flowers in the valley of Sharon, in that garden where the Saviour sweat blood. Perhaps you will find some flowers of eternity there, which do not shed their petals nor change their color, upon which the blood of the Saviour has dripped. This blood has pressed some flowers in the valley of Sharon and made them like roses, which grow among the thorns. The thorn is a sharp bush with which the Saviour was crowned; in it are the sharp branches and needles which pierced innumerable wounds in the head of Jesus. But in the same thorny bush the most beautiful red roses grow, and those roses the daughters of Zion now seek from among the thorns, since the thorns have been acceptable to the Saviour for a crown, which now has changed to a crown of glory, then the flower of the thorn should be suitable for the bride of the Saviour for adornment on her day of glory. The thorns have pierced innumerable wounds into the head of Jesus, from which the red blood has flowed, and from that blood the flowers of the thorn have become red and beautiful roses. Seek therefore, those roses in the garden, you daughters of Zion, who always want to be beautiful, and behold those flowers which have grown from the thorn, for they are the most beautiful flowers on the earth. Are you, daughters of Zion, as beautiful as these flowers? If you were as red as these thorn roses, then you would certainly be acceptable for a bride for the Saviour, that thorn-crowned King. Seek yet those flowers of eternity which never change their color. Then you have fulfilled the command of the Saviour, when He says, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not neither do they spin, but Solomon, that great lord, in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
Prepare now, you daughters of Zion, that you would become as beautiful and as lovely as one of these flowers. Then you would be acceptable for a bride for that thorn-crowned King, who bears the crown of glory. And His bride has a thorn rose on her breast on her day of glory, which will soon come. Amen.