The Works of Christ are Gifts and Examples

Advent 1 Sunday

Matthew 21:1-5

“Now, when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them: “Go into the village that lies ahead of you and soon you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her; untie them and lead them to me. And if anyone says anything to you, say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will leave them to you.” Yet all this took place in order to fulfill what was said by the prophet who says: “Say to the Daughter Zion, Look, your King comes to you, gentle, and rides on a donkey and on a foal of a beast of burden.””

We are to consider and note two things in the gospels. First, the works of Christ given to us as gift and benefit. Faith is to cling to them and is to become proficient in them. Second, the same works are presented as an example and pattern which we are to follow and imitate. Thus, all gospels are recognized to teach first faith and then works…This gospel chiefly excites and demands faith. For it depicts Christ in his gracious coming. No one may receive nor accept him unless he believes that he is the man and comes with the intention in which the gospel depicts it. Everything that is shown here in Christ is utter grace, gentleness, and goodness. And those who believe in him and regards him as gracious, are blessed. Look here: He does not ride on a stallion, a warlike animal. He does not come in terrifying splendor and might. Rather, he sits on a donkey, a peaceful animal, only prepared for burden and labor to help man. Thereby he indicates how he comes, not to terrify, drive, or subjugate man but to help man to bear his burden and to take it upon himself. And although it was the custom of the country at the time to ride on donkeys and to use horses for war, as Scripture often notes, everything is designed that this Kings entry would be recognized as gentle and kind. Secondly, he begins to ride and comes to the Mount of Olives to prove that the only comes out of, and with, pure mercy. For oil in Scripture means God’s grace that heals and prepares the soul just as oil naturally heals and helps the body. Thirdly, there is no armor or war cries but only singing, lauding, rejoicing, and the blessing of God. Fourthly, Christ, as St. Luke writes (19:41), wept over the city of Jerusalem because it does not recognize or accept such grace. Their loss causes him sorrow; he does not deal strictly and harshly with them. Fifthly, the greatest proof of his goodness and gentleness is that he introduces what is written in Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9. Thereby he kindly invites people to accept Christ by faith. The events in this
gospel took place and were recorded for the sake of this verse, as the evangelist himself confesses.

St. Louis ed., 11:1-2.

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