Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.--LUKE iii. 4.




CHRIST IS OUR LORD



INTRODUCTION. Today's Gospel opens with an enumeration of a number of the temporal lords that ruled on earth in the time of Christ, and concludes with the inauguration of the reign of the Messiah, "the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Tim. vi. 15), of whose kingdom " there shall be no end " (Luke i. 33).

It was customary in the Orient, when monarchs were expected to visit their subjects, to prepare in advance the roads and highways in order that the progress of the royal party might be made with ease and comfort. St. John reminds us today that we should make a similar preparation for the coming of our Divine Lord at Christmas.

I. Christ as God is our Lord. 1. God is the Lord and Master of us and of all things, because He is the Creator and Preserver of all. But Christ as God is one with the Father (John x. 30). 2. Holy Scripture expressly says that all things were made by the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (John i. 3). "All creatures, both great and small, those that dwell above and those on the earth, spirits and bodies, all alike come from the creative Word" (St. Augustine). "It is He who created all; it is He who gave order to all, who gave the heavenly bodies their movement, the sun its light, the ocean its limits, the earth its fecundity; . . . it is He Who moves and governs all, and preserves the world in its admirable unity" (St. Anthanasius).

II. Christ as man is our Lord. 1. Christ, by His own blood, has purchased all mankind. " You were not redeemed with corruptible things, as gold and silver, but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter i. 18, 19) ; "you are bought with a great price" (1 Cor. vi. 20). Hence we are Christ's property, and He is our Lord. 2. In a special sense Christ is the Lord of Christians, for in Baptism we are enrolled under His standard and promise to be His faithful followers. Our name of Christian, disciple of Christ, reminds us of His sovereignty and of our duty towards Him. 3. A particular title that Christ has to our loyal service is that He came to us not as a dread sovereign, surrounded by pomp and power, but as the Prince of Peace in goodness and mildness.

CONCLUSION, 1. The Christian prepares the way of the Lord by removing from his soul all that can impede the coming of Christ to him. 2. Exhortation to proximate preparation for the feast of Christmas: (a) " every valley shall be filled," i.e., avoid sins of omission by making new resolutions and efforts to practice virtue; (b) " every mountain and hill shall be brought low," i.e., sins of commission, mortal and venial, should be repented of and atoned for; (c) "the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain," i.e., all injustice, uncharitableness, wrangling, dissensions etc., should give way to righteousness and good will among men (Luke iii. 5).



Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part I

ARTICLE II OF THE CREED
WHY OUR SAVIOUR IS CALLED BY DIFFERENT NAMES

Our Lord. Of our Saviour many things are recorded in Scripture, some of which clearly apply to Him as God and some as man, because from His different natures He received the different properties which belong to each. Hence, we say with truth that Christ is Almighty, Eternal, Infinite, and these attributes He has from His divine nature; again, we say of Him that He suffered, died, and rose again, which manifestly are properties compatible only with His human nature.

WHY CALLED "OUR LORD"

Besides these terms, there are others common to both natures; as when in this article of the Creed we say "our Lord," a name strictly applicable to both. As He is eternal as well as the Father, so is He Lord of all things equally with the Father; and as He and the Father are not the one, one God, and the other, another God, but one and the same God, so likewise He and the Father are not the one, one Lord, and the other, another Lord. As man, He is also for many reasons appropriately called " our Lord," and first because He is our Redeemer, who delivered us from sin. This is the doctrine of St. Paul. " He humbled himself," says the Apostle, " becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."(l) And of Himself He said, after His resurrection: " All power is given to me in heaven and on earth."(2) He is also called "Lord " because in one person both natures, the human and the divine, are united; and though He had not died for us, He would have yet deserved, by this admirable union, to be constituted common Lord of all created things, particularly of those who in all the fervor of their souls obey and serve Him.

MATTER FOR EXHORTATION SUPPLIED BY THIS ARTICLE

It remains, therefore, that the pastor exhort the faithful to the consideration of these His claims to the title of "Our Lord"; that we who, taking our name from Him, are called Christians, and who cannot be ignorant of the extent of His favors, particularly in having enabled us to understand all these things by faith, may know the strict obligation we, above all others, are under, of devoting and consecrating ourselves forever, like faithful servants, to our Redeemer and our Lord. This we promised when at the baptismal font we were initiated and introduced into the Church of God; for we then declared that we renounced the devil and the world, and gave ourselves unreservedly to Jesus Christ. But if to be enrolled as soldiers of Christ we consecrated ourselves by so holy and solemn a profession to our Lord, what punishments should we not deserve were we, after our entrance into the Church, and after having known the will and laws of God and received the grace of the sacraments, to form our lives upon the laws and maxims of the world and the devil; as if, when cleansed in the waters of baptism, we had pledged our fidelity to the world and to the devil, and not to Christ our Lord and Saviour! What heart so cold as not to be inflamed with love by the benevolence and beneficence exercised toward us by so great a Lord, who, though holding us in His power and dominion as slaves ransomed by His blood, yet embraces us with such ardent love as to call us not servants, but friends and brethren?1 This, assuredly, supplies the most just, and perhaps the strongest, claim to induce us always to acknowledge, venerate, and adore Him as "our Lord."



Sermons

THE SECOND ARTICLE OF THE CREED
BY THE REV. P. HEHEL, S.J.


When in the first article of the creed we say, "I believe in God the Father," we confess thereby the existence of only one God, the oneness of the Godhead. But we confess also at the same time the distinction of the Persons who are in the Deity when we say, "I believe in God the Father." We explain this distinction of persons more explicitly when in the second article we say, " and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord." According to this we declare:

First, that we believe Christ to be the natural Son of the Eternal Heavenly Father and the Second Person of the Godhead in the same pre-eminent manner as St. John gives testimony of Him when he says we " confess that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John iv. 15) ; therefore that Father and Son are one God in substance and distinct only in Person.

Secondly, we confess of this Second Person that He is the only Son of the Heavenly Father. We indicate thereby that God has no other natural Son, who is begotten of the Father from eternity, equal to Him in substance and in nature. For although the Heavenly Father as Creator of all mankind is at the same time also the Father of all, yet we cannot be called the natural sons or children of God, but only adopted sons, because He has graciously adopted us as His children. For St. Paul also writes to the Romans: "You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father)." We have thereby become children of God, heirs of heaven, and co-heirs with Christ; but Christ is the only beg-otten, the only natural Son of the Heavenly Father, and He has no equal.

Thirdly, we confess that this natural only Son of God is called Jesus Christ. With this name we testify that He is also our Redeemer and Saviour. For the Angel called Him Jesus before He was born of Mary, because He was to save His people from their sins. We call Him also Christ, i.e., the anointed of the Lord, to express thereby that the Son of God is at the same time man and God, consequently the true Messiah, whom God sent into the world for the redemption of His people, whom He anointed as High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech, and who offered Himself as the sacrifice of expiation for the whole world.

Fourthly, we confess of the only Son of God that He is our Lord when we say: " And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord." We express thereby that Christ has power and authority to control our whole being, that He is Lord over all we possess, over life and death. This right was acquired by Christ:

1. Through the redemption. Christ became our Lord by buying us with the infinite ransom of His own most precious blood from the bondage of the devil.

2. He is also our Lord because He has received from His Heavenly Father the most absolute power to rule over all mankind and the choirs of angels, over heaven, earth, and hell. Christ Himself told us this when He said: " All power is given to me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. xxviii. 18).

3. He is our Lord because according to the Godhead He is one with the Father, therefore He is also our Creator and Author, who has the right to control and command His creatures as He wills.

4. He is in particular our Lord because we are Catholic Christians, and He is the Head of the Catholic Church. We are united with Him as members to the body which is led by the head. This is all contained in the words of the second article, and this we believe and confess when we say, "And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord."

But we have much to learn here from in order that our life may be conformable to our faith. We confess that Christ is our lawful, absolute Lord, to whom we are subject in all things, who can condemn us to eternal perdition in soul and in body. No one except God has such authority upon earth. For although the rulers of this world punish their subjects, or may even kill them, yet the soul is not subject to their authority. Hence Christ says: "Fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. x. 28). Oh, how unreasonably you behave when you esteem a man more than God, when you would rather offend God than displease a man! It is true you do not perceive this now, for money is being pressed into your hand. You are invited to well-spread tables. All this dazzles you. But it is a human recompense. You will hold on to it until this earthly existence ceases. Then another kingdom will open before you where only one Lord rules, and distributes everlasting punishment or eternal recompense. Do not forget this, dear Christian, so that you may so serve men as not to lose the reward of the Eternal Lord.


1. Phil. ii. 8-11. 2. Matt. xxviii 18.
3. John xv. 14.