Saturday of Septuagesima Sunday – Galatians 3:10-18

| January 30, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Chicago Cubs logoGalatians 3:10-18

We’ve all heard of curses before, for they are the stuff of legends.  They say there was the Curse of the Bambino, so that the Red Sox were cursed from being able to win the World Series.  For reasons still unknown, that “curse” has been lifted, and they have now won the W.S. twice.  Now if you really want to believe in curses . . . check out the Chicago Cubs instead!

They say there was a “Year Zero Curse,” so that any president elected in a year ending with a zero would die in office.  Why the Curse of Tecumseh (or Curse of Tippencanoe) suddenly ended with Ronald Reagan is not quite clear.

When I was about 8 or 9 my family went to Merrimac Caverns in Missouri.  I remember standing with a large crowd by a large stone that was suspended by an impossibly thin rock formation so that the stone was suspended over the air.  The guide explained that there was a curse on the rock so that anyone who stood under the rock for 60 seconds would have the rock fall down on top of them.  Being raised in an intellectual home and taught to doubt ridiculous things, I refused to believe in this curse.  I remember trying to look tough, smoking my bubblegum cigarette, and to this day I secretly (well, not so secretly anymore) believe that this is why the tour guide chose me to stand under the rock.

The guide counted . . . . and counted.  I was sure, but there was still room for doubt.  But I reasoned, “What kind of crazy tour guide would let some little kid get killed under the rock.  He’d be in too much trouble!”

Naturally, I survived to tell about my escapades.  Unfortunately, the curse couldn’t prevent the rock formation from damage by some mischievous university students a few years after I had visited it.

Such curses are like Halloween amusements, and they aren’t very real or very powerful to us.  There is one real curse in life, but it’s one that many people appear to be unconcerned about, even while they lose their heads over global warming and baby seals.  That curse is the curse that was placed upon mankind by God in response to our disobedience to Him.  It is the source of all of our other curses and woes, and we are powerless against it.

Usually, the story goes, there is something a hero can do to remove the curse.  He may have to defeat a monster or perform some other heroic fate to defeat the power of the one who curses and to show his courage.  Unfortunately, for mankind, no hero was found, for the only heroes we could find were men and women who were themselves under the curse.  No one was strong enough to remove the sword from the stone, and no one could be found to open the seals.

And then, in the Greatest Story Ever Told, God Himself, the one who had pronounced the curse, provided a way out for those under the curse.  Out of love, God Himself sent His Son, born under the Law, to be subject to the Law, to redeem those under the Law and the Curse.  In the most dramatic reversal in history, the One who was the True Hero, who was sinless and without blemish and who perfectly kept the Law, chose to endure the Curse for the ones who had caused the curse in the first place and who rightly deserved it.

This is the story that St. Paul tells us this morning, saying, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (verse 13).  Just how did our Hero redeem us from the curse of the Law?  By actually becoming a curse for us.  On the Cross, being cursed by hanging on a tree, Jesus actually became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The One who is the Tree of Life became the Tree of Life by first being the Tree of Death for us.  When Adam and Eve chose to partake of the fruit of the forbidden tree, that tree became for them the Tree of Death.  But Jesus Christ also chose to eat of that tree for us, swallowing up death, digesting it, and eliminating it for us.  And then He became the Tree of Life.

This is a most amazing story, and yet one that is true.  Its wonder should never cease to amaze us because unlike other stories that might remain just good stories this is the one in which we are intimately involved as characters.  We were the ones under the curse, and it’s a good idea to be reminded of this curse.  Just as God promised blessings to the Israelites if they obeyed the Law and curses if they did not, God promised blessing to Adam and humanity if they would obey Him and curses if they did not.

The rest, they say, is history, and so we have been enduring temporal curses for millennia: suffering and pain; plague, pestilence, and famine; robbery, rape, and murder; contention, divorce, and abortion; anger, lust, and lying; death and all the other curses we daily suffer.  But these are nothing compared to the eternal curse we stand under: death for all eternity in our souls, separation from God, and an eternal home in Hell.

We must have some measure of the Curse under which every one of us lives before we can rightly understand the wonder of Christ redeeming us from the curse, by becoming the curse.

Now here’s where the wonder is multiplied.  Under the curse, our Hero becomes so identified with the Curse that He actually became the Curse and became sin.  But if this is true, then it must also be true on the blessing side of our story.  Paul says that Christ became a curse for us that His blessings might come upon us (verse 14, “that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”)

Not only did Jesus become sin and the curse, but He also became one of us.  If Jesus Christ, in removing the curse, can become sin and the curse, then in giving us the blessing He can also become one of us.  Not only does Jesus become one of us, the accursed race, so that He truly becomes a man, but He also is united with us in the way He was united to sin and the curse.  Through the promised Spirit that Christ has won for us, Jesus Christ is able to dwell in us, and we in Him!  As He participated in our sin and death, so we now can participate in His righteousness and life.  As He became the curse for us, we are enabled to participate in His blessing, which is union with Him.

The truth is that this truth is received and believed by faith, as incredible as it may sound.  This most incredible story becomes true for us, through our belief in the Hero, who is the one who saves us.  This is St. Paul’s story of the hero and the curse, and it is our story as well.

Sound incredible!  Incredible, but true.

Believe it . . . or not.

Prayer:  Father, we thank You that before the foundations of the world were laid, You have constantly decreed by Your counsel secret to us to deliver from curse and damnation those whom You have chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring us by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honor.   Since we have been called according to Your purpose by His Spirit working in due season, may we through grace obey Your calling; be justified freely; be your sons and daughters by adoption; be made like the image of Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; walk religiously in good works; and at last, by Your mercy, attain everlasting joy.  Amen. 

Point for Meditation:

  1. Imagine God’s plan of salvation as a story, complete with protagonist, antagonist, heroic feats, etc .
  2. Meditate on the curse that is rightfully yours that you may more faithfully give thanks for your salvation.

Resolution:  I resolve to find a way to rejoice today that the Hero has removed my curse and turned it into blessing. 

© 2016 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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