24th Sunday after Trinity.
The angel said to Tobit, "It is good to hide the secret of a king: but honorable to reveal and confess the works of God." (Douay wording) Tobit 12:7.
[Finnish Bible says that the works of God must be highly praised and proclaimed.]
These words are found written in the book of Tobit and we hear from them that a person keep must secret the counsel of kings but the words of God must be proclaimed. However people do contrary to this command. If the king tells someone what he intends to do very few men are so trustworthy that they can keep that secret to themselves that they would not divulge it to anyone even if it causes harm to the kingdom if someone reveals the secret counsels of the king. But not many want to reveal the works of God's grace for great harm and shame come to the devil if someone begins to cry out to the world what God has effected in them. If, for instance, a Christian would begin to tell the world how the spirit of God has effected a change of heart and mind in him, and how he has felt the effects of God's grace the enemy immediately becomes angry and says, "You boast of how good you are." The enemy does not want to give honor to God, that God would have done some good. The enemy wants to find much injustice in God's rule. In the enemy's mind, God is an unjust God if He condemns such a pious and honorable man to hell; and therefore he does not give God that honor that God would have effected something good. The god of the world wants to own that honor for himself that he has done what God has done. Certainly the enemy will allow such a work of God to be revealed which he has spoiled, for instance the work of creation. The enemy allows his slaves to say that they were created in the image of God, for he knows well that they no longer have the image of God, since after creation he has spoiled that image of God and painted God's image black, or changed God's image to be like the devil. The devil certainly allows his slaves to confess that God is their father as long as they do the deeds of the black father, but the enemy does not allow that people would proclaim such works of God which the enemy cannot spoil, as for example the effects of God's grace. Those effects the enemy cannot spoil when they are felt in a person but he wants to make naught of them and persuades his slaves, also, that such are of the devil. For example the awakening and torment of conscience, "they are nothing else than the effect of the devil", so also signs of grace and spiritual joy: the devil has affected in them, so say the slaves of the enemy. Likewise also of spiritual sorrow; "it is nothing other than a trick of the enemy". All that God does and which the enemy cannot change, spoil, or bring to naught, that the enemy takes and owns for himself or persuades his slaves that they are of his doing. But the enemy does not allow that his work would be revealed from which shame would come to him; for example, adultery, stealing, lying, etc. The devil has such great honor that he denies confession of sins and says, "It is not necessary to cry out such to the world." He always wants to cover up and hide sins so that the world would not know what he has done in darkness. When the world keeps him as a meek and honorable man, he always wants to own for himself that he is a meek, honest, and honorable man. If someone blames him for their sins he denies it and says, "You are lying", for he does not take any sin upon himself no matter what. When the first woman blamed him for sin, he became angry at the seed of the woman and still wants to destroy those who can bring his works into the light. Said in a word: the devil has such great honor that he denies and covers up his own evil deeds so that the world would always think well of him. But those works of God which he cannot spoil, change, or bring to naught, those he owns for himself, and gives his slaves that faith that the effects of God's spirit are of the devil. And although he cannot get the awakened into such a faith that the effects of God's spirit are of the devil, nevertheless he causes them to be ashamed of them so that they would not reveal the effects of God's spirit. Namely if the awakened souls would begin to cry out to the world what they have felt of the effects of the spirit of God, God would receive honor through that, but the devil has such great envy that he would not allow at all that some soul upon the earth would give honor to God and confess openly what the spirit of God has worked in him. Therefore the enemy makes the newly awakened ones feel ashamed of the workings of the Holy Spirit, so they do not dare to reveal to anyone what the spirit of God has effected in their hearts. Namely if he reveals the effects of the spirit of God to the world, the children of the world would begin to mock the newly awakened and say, "You brag about yourself and make yourself so good." Moses' brother Aaron and sister Miriam said, "Does God speak only through Moses?" They became envious and the devil of envy put them to mock Moses that he made himself good. Other slaves of the world became angry with Moses and said, " Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy — wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?" Numbers 16:3.
They wanted to accuse Moses of pride when they themselves were in pride. If an awakened person cannot hide the effects of God's spirit, the slaves of the devil say, "even he became crazy," he has caught the dog's disease; "even he became a wild spirit". Because of this mockery and persecution the enemy causes some newly awakened ones to be ashamed of the workings of God and to hide the effects of the spirit of God, so that honor would not be given to God but to the devil. But we hear now from the afore-mentioned words which are found written in Tobit 12:7 that the angel told him to proclaim the works of God when he says, "It is good to hide the secret of the king but honorable to reveal and confess the works of God. "
Would the angel then have been in spiritual pride when he commanded Tobit to cry out to the world what a great grace had happened to him? Now some thieves of grace concede that it is not spiritual pride which speaks of God's grace, for they themselves can confess "that they lie at the foot of the Savior's bloody cross every day". And certainly the enemy will allow them to cry out that much to the world, for he knows that thieves of grace are secret enemies of the cross of Jesus, although they imagine that they are at the foot of His cross. But he entirely prohibits confession of sin and says, "no one need to cry out his sins to the world". Through that confession of sin shame comes to the devil, therefore he does not allow his slaves to confess their sins. But what do those words signify which are found written in Numbers 5:7. "Then they shall confess their sin which they have done … and give it unto him against whom he hath transgressed." But thieves of grace want to expound this place so that a person must confess his sin only to his neighbor against whom he has transgressed and not to others. Therefore we must find other passages in the Bible which show that God demands an open confession of sins.
But since in today's gospel is given us an example of how honor of the world prevents one grace-seeking soul from confessing before the world the poor and wretched condition in which he finds himself to be, and how the same devil causes some grace-needing souls to steal grace from the Savior; it would be necessary to pray to God and that great Crossbearer that He would open all eyes of the blind youth to see how the enemy, because of honor of the world, misleads even those who know their wretchedness. He causes those grace-needing souls to hide that poor condition in which they are and steal grace from the Savior. If now all who suffer the issue of blood would reveal openly before the world what a wretched and poor condition they are in, then the whole world would know what has forced them to beg for grace. Hear Thou great and exalted King of heaven, all the sighs of the wretched, sorrowful, and down-pressed ones. Our Father, etc.
The Gospel Matthew 9:18-26.
Two miracles that Jesus performed are recorded in today's gospel. First He healed one woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years and, second, He awoke a ruler's daughter from the dead. We will take the first event under consideration:How they who try to steal grace in secret from the Savior must finally confess openly what they have done.
We must first take heed of what Mark and Luke have additionally written about this woman who has suffered this issue of blood for twelve years. From these we know that this woman who slipped through the crowd and got so close to the Savior that she could touch His garment, intended to go home without saying a word. But when the Savior began to question who had touched Him, this woman had to confess with trembling what she had done. From this we surmise that grace thieves cannot get away with stolen grace without questioning. Perhaps this woman was able to steal grace in the way in which it is written in the gospel, therefore all grace thieves can get so close to the Savior that they can surely steal His grace, for some have never suffered the issue of blood and nevertheless they think that the Savior is merciful to them.
That great crowd who followed Jesus then because of curiosity and pressed closer was only an idle crowd who had gathered because of curiosity and they crowded and pressed closer to the Savior. No doubt they imagined they were worthy of touching Him. Now the sorrowless do likewise. They crowd and press closer to the Savior even though they have no distress; and then when the question arises of who has touched Him they deny everything. After a short while these idle, sorrowless people are ready to cry out, "Crucify". Such now is the love of the sorrowless crowd toward the Savior, although they imagine that they lie in the Savior's bosom. Once they cry out, "Hosanna to the Son of David," and another time they cry out, "Take him away! Crucify!"
It is still more remarkable that those few souls who suffer from the issue of blood can still steal grace like this woman who, because of shame or honor of the world, did not dare to come before the eyes of the Savior and to openly confess what kind of a sickness she had. She did not dare to fall on her knees and to pray that the Lord Jesus would help her. Nor did she dare to cry out: "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me!" But the devil of honor caused her to sneak and crowd among the throng so that she could get so close to the Savior that she could touch the hem of His garment. Therefore this woman had the intention to steal and those unbelieving wretches who say that a person cannot steal grace can now see by this woman's example how clever a thief of grace is at sneaking behind the Savior's back. Other distressed people are accustomed to always come before the Savior's eyes and lament of their distress. They fall on their knees and pray, and they who because of blindness cannot come very close to the the Savior cry out afar off, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me!" But this woman began to steal grace very nicely. It was remarkable that the theft turned out some way. But when the question of who had touched Him came up all denied it; and this woman did not dare to reveal herself immediately. Honor of the world was so great in her that she certainly would have left like a sneaky dog if Jesus would not have begun to question further who had touched Him. The Savior certainly knew who it was but He wanted to try that woman, if honor of the world would allow her to confess her theft. Now the Evangelists Mark and Luke write of that woman that she finally had to confess her theft when, namely, distress came to her and she saw that this matter was not secret. Mark says that the woman feared and trembled knowing what was done in her; and Luke says that she came trembling and falling down before Him, declaring unto Him before all people why she had touched Him. From this you see, thief of grace, that Jesus does not allow thieves of grace to go without questioning. Truly you see what kind of fear and trembling will come to grace thieves when the conscience begins to accuse them that they have touched the holy person of the Savior without permission. Thirdly you see that thieves of grace must finally confess before the whole world why they have touched Him secretly and without permission, although present-day thieves of grace say, "No one needs to cry out to the world why they have begun to steal grace." This woman, however, had to confess, not only to the Savior but to the whole nation, how she had suffered the issue of blood for twelve years, and what she had thought when she went to steal grace from the Savior. That issue of blood is a shameful sickness although it was put upon her by God, but before the world it is considered shameful; and therefore a grace thief does not dare to confess that she has such a disease before distress comes. The devil of honor caused her to hide it. Even now the devil of honor causes some to hide their condition that they have contracted the issue of blood. They do not dare to reveal it to the world because they fear that they will be ridiculed. It is shameful before the world that they have become such ones. They spend much on doctors, but the issue of blood is not such a sickness that doctors are able to cure. Evangelists remember that she became worse and not better when she had been to the doctors. Spiritual quacks cannot cure those who suffer the issue of blood, nor can other doctors, but only the Savior can cure that sickness. But it is worse that such patients do not go immediately to the Savior, and still worse they come on the sly and squeeze through the crowd. They do not come openly to the Savior and to the whole world to confess, to cry out, to pray to that great Crossbearer that He through His great grace would help them, but they sneak behind His back to steal grace from the Savior.
Such now are those thieves of grace who suffer the issue of blood. They are truly in need of grace, but they have such great honor of the world that they do not dare to reveal themselves to the world nor to the Savior before the question arises, "who has touched Him?" That sorrowless crowd who, without reason and because of curiosity force themselves upon the Savior, press from every direction and almost walk on Him with their feet, they all deny that they have touched Him. They certainly are able to lie that they have not pressed Him, although they have shoved Him with the elbows of sin and trampled Him with their feet, and with their bodies crowded His holy person. Nonetheless they lie and deny that they have touched Him. This sorrowless, idle crowd are so bold to press and obstruct and push themselves upon the Savior that Peter had to say to the Savior, "Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee." Peter was con-founded at their stupidity and complained that this idle crowd did not hold hold the Savior in better esteem, nor were they at all ashamed to shove and press themselves upon Him. What did they care who are like magpies and forest devils, who do not even know to fear the Son of God? Don't worry, when judgement time comes then they will see whom they have trampled and oppressed! Then they will begin to accuse the Savior like He has formerly revealed, "Lord we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets," we have preached in thy name, which signifies that we have been well acquainted with each other, but He will say, "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity. I know ye not."
Take heed now all you people who suffer from the issue of blood; take heed of this woman who intended to steal grace because of honor. Take heed for your souls that you would not go to steal grace, but come openly to lament of your distress before Him, even if the whole world would hear what kind of a sickness you have. Although grace thieves say, "You do not need to cry out your sins to the world," and with that word they give honor to the devil and not to the Savior who does not allow grace thieves near Him without questioning. His will is that all secret matters must be openly proclaimed. Let no one depend upon this, that this woman could keep that stolen grace which she had stolen. That came from the great love of the Savior, when He began to question who had touched Him. But if the Savior had allowed her to go with stolen grace without questioning, then the devil would have received joy from her that she would not have thanked the Savior for that grace which had happened to her. The devil of honor, who prevented her from confessing her distress, would also have prevented her from thanking the Savior, and that would have been contrary to the Bible which says, "The works of God should be highly proclaimed." If the works of God do not become manifest, then God is forgotten and the devil receives all the honor. When the children began to cry out, "Hosanna to the Son of David," the lords did not like it that the children honored the Savior, but the Savior said to them, "If these shall hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." But God help me, few are they who thank God. Even those who have felt God's grace are so unthankful that they do not remember very long from what a terrible sickness they have been saved through the grace of the Savior. Amen.