The Two Words of God

Advent 3 Wednesday

Matthew 11:4-6

“Jesus answered and said to them: Go and tell John what you see and hear: The blind see; the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed; and the deaf hear, the dead rise up, and the gospel is preached to the poor. And blessed is he who is not offended by me.”

What does Christ mean when he says, the gospel is preached to the poor? Is the gospel not preached also to the rich and to the whole world? Or how is it that the gospel is such a big deal that he lists it as a great benefit, although so many people are hostile to it? Here we must know what the gospel is. Otherwise we cannot understand these words. This is why we should note well and with diligence that God sent two words or sermons into the world from the beginning, the law and the gospel. These two sermons you must distinguish and recognize well. For I tell you, besides Scripture, no book has been written, not even by a saint is something in existence, where these two sermons have been properly
distinguished, although much depends on knowing this distinction. The law is that word in which God teaches us, and demands, what we should do and leave undone, as in the Ten Commandments. Now, if human nature is by itself, apart from God’s grace, it is impossible to keep the law because man is corrupted and has the utterly evil desire to sin after Adam’s fall in paradise, being unable to love the law wholeheartedly. We experience all this in ourselves. For there is no one who would not rather that there be no law. And everyone finds and feels in himself that it is difficult to be good and to do good, while it is easy to be evil and do evil. And such difficulty or unwillingness to what is good causes us not to keep the law. For what is done with reluctance, difficulty, and unwillingness is the same before God as not keeping it at all. And, thus, God’s law convicts us by our own experience that we are naturally evil, disobedient, and lovers of sins and enemies of God’s laws…The other word of God is not law or commandment, and it also does not demand anything of us. Rather, once the demand is made by the first word, that of the law, and miserable sorrow and poverty have been created in the heart, he comes and offers us his sweet, living Word and promises, pledges, and commits himself to give grace and help so that we should get out of this sorrow. All sin is not only to be forgiven but also destroyed, while love and the desire to fulfill the law are to be given. See, such divine promise of grace and forgiveness of sin is properly called gospel.
And I say again and again that you should not understand the gospel to be anything but the divine promise of his grace and forgiveness of sin…Such promises, however, are all based on Christ from the beginning of the world, so that God promises such grace only in and through Christ. Christ is the messenger of divine promise to the entire world. This is also why he came and commanded the promise to be broadcast throughout the world by means of the gospel, while he
previously had always proclaimed it by the prophets.

St. Louis ed., 11:80-84.

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