Faith, Reason or Nature?

Advent 1 Tuesday

Matthew 21:5

“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.”

Third, he says: “Observe” or “look.” By this word he rouses us from sleep and unbelief as someone who would bring forth something great, peculiar, and notable, something which people desired for a long time and which they should receive with joy. And such rousing is certainly necessary because reason and nature despise everything that concerns faith; it is utterly uneven for them. E.g., how might nature and reason recognize that this man was supposed to be the King of Jerusalem although he comes across as so poor and lowly by riding only on someone else’s donkey? How does this entry fit with being a great King? But it is faith’s nature not to judge and follow based on what it sees and feels, but based on
what it hears. It clings to the Word alone and not to appearances or gestures. This is also why only those received Christ as a King who followed the word of the prophet, who believed in Christ, and who measured and received his kingdom not by their eyes but by the Spirit. They are the true Daughter Zion. For it is impossible that those should not be offended by Christ who want to follow their sight and feeling instead of firmly clinging to the bare, pure Word. And this image lets us receive and retain the first thing in which the nature of faith is depicted before us. For just as here the appearance and object of faith is utterly nothing and contrary to all reason and nature, so in all articles and cases of faith you find the same trivial and paradoxical appearance. Moreover, it would not be faith if things looked and acted as faith considered them and as the words say. And this is exactly why it is faith: It does not appear or act as faith and the words say. If Christ had ridden into Jerusalem in splendor, like a king of this world, then the appearance and the words would have been according to reason and nature and things would have looked as the words say. Yet no faith would have remained then. This is how it goes, then, that he who believes in Christ, must recognize and retain riches under poverty, honor under shame, joy under sorrow, life under death, and he must do so by faith who clings to God’s words and who expects this. Fourth, he says, your King. Here he sets this King apart from all other kings. He is your King, says he, who has been promised to you, whose you are, who alone should rule you–but in the Spirit and not like a physical government…Oh, this is a comforting word for a believing heart. For outside of Christ man is subject to many angry tyrants who are not kings but murderers, under whom he suffers great distress and fear, e.g., the devil, the flesh, the word, sin, and also
the law and death with hell…Yet where your heart receives this King by a strong faith, then you are safe, fearing neither sin, death, nor hell or any misfortune. For then you know that this King of yours is a Lord over life and death, sin and grace, hell and heaven, who has all things in his hands. For he became our King to redeem us from such overbearing tyrants and to rule over us by himself…Look, such great things are contained in these simple words, “Look, your King.” The poor Rider of the donkey and inconspicuous King brings such exuberantly great gifts. All this reason does not see; all this nature does not comprehend. Faith alone does.
St. Louis ed., 11:4-7.
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