Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of our beloved monk and priest Dr Martin Luther, I want to express my appreciation for you inviting me here to speak amongst the presence of my distinguished fellow deacons, priests, nuns, cardinals, and - of course - your eminence, Pope Francis.
My homily today will touch upon some idiosycratic sectarian-catholic doctrines of not merely a superstitious but even a heretical nature. It is hoped that the Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus will enlighten you and control your immediate impulse to disbelief and especially any adverse physical reactions because of biased and prejudicial preconceived presumptions adhered to and professed by some of your ecclesiastical comrades entrenched and enslaved in certain fallible human traditions and practices.
First, it should be noted that the first living saints belonging to what the New Testament called: "The Way" -- as stated in Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 24:14, and 24:22 -- were not called: "catholics" but rather: "Christians:"
Acts 11:26 ...and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
The nonsubstantial statement that the word "catholic" is said to mean: "universal" certainly, in one sense, has nothing whatsoever to do even with religion at all, but instead bespeaks of some vague global unity not specifically attached nor related to anything in particular.
And when it comes to religion, there obviously is not, nor should be, unified agreement with such non-Scriptural and anti-Biblical "catholic" heresies as maryolatry, atonement by indulgences, purgatory and escape from such by indeterminate other-world punishment in temporary hellfire confinement, papal infallibility, and non-canonicity within both Old and New Testament of the pollutive inclusion of Apocrypha. More to be said about that later in this sermon.
Martin Luther, in his famous 95 Thesis nailed to a German-church door, certainly displayed no disrespect for Mary who birthed Jesus Christ, but rather his dispute was against indulgences and perhaps relics which some, at that time, misconsidered good-work additions as requirement for salvation and absolvement of sins.
Such a humans-must-do-something-weird-to-save-themselves attitude among not only catholics of that time, but many of them today, are similar to what some jews also incorrectly hold to (which in their case is that Israel themselves and their progenie are what and who saves them from destruction, both temporal and eternal).
The singularity of Christ as sole Mediator and Intercessor (and not petitioning nor praying to, in pseudo-sacred necromancy, dead saints such as Mary) is clearly put forth with such Scripture as:
First Timothy 2:5 There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...
Hebrews 9:15 Therefore He [Jesus] is the Mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
Hebrews 12:24 ...to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.
True, there are human helpers who, at times, can assist others for mere life extension:
Job 33:23 If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him;
24 and he is gracious to him, and says: "Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom;
25 let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor";
26 then man prays to God, and He accepts him, he comes into His presence with joy. He recounts to men his salvation,
27 and he sings before men, and says: "I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not requited to me.
28 He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit, and my life shall see the light."
...but that does not abrogate nor neutralize the preeminent position and function of Christ Himself as Primary Mediator and Intercessor, and in fact the only one who everyone of all time is required to implore:
Romans 8:27 And He who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
That is not to say that gossip-fodder sins blurted out in a private confessional to some priest are not of some value, because:
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
Keep in mind, however, that such disclosure of human failings does not accrue atonement against those sins, which atonement is something only Christ Himself provided and provides by His sacrificial bloody death on a Roman cross.
Not that human works are not necessary for salvation.
When Paul stated:
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 2:16 ...a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.
Galatians 3:24 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.
...he was not implying that doing good works are not prerequisite for salvation, and that the gospel is a only-use-it-if-you-reluctantly-have-to license to sin and "get away with it, albeit with penitential regret" for humans who "cannot be perfect because we're only human," but rather that doing good works of the Law, having done some good works of the Law, and intending to good works of the Law, cannot and never have and never will atone for lawless sins committed against Law.
It is interesting that First John never once implies the typical irrationalization of many claiming that we cannot be sinless because we are only human. He does state that we have already sinned, but as to those claiming forgiveness by the grace of God, committing even one sin is not an option for those truly born from above:
First John 3:9 No one born of God commits sin, because God's nature resides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.
First John 5:4 Whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.
First John 5:18 We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
That should be clear by the good-works-are-required-for-salvation-not-merely-atonement statement of Saint James:
James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by works [that is: doing good works of the Law] and not by faith [in whoever or whatever or even in Christ's perfect righteousness] alone.
On what basis does the Bible state that us doing good works [as we have the opportunity and are empowered and endowed with the perfect gift of Law-doing by the non-changing "Father of lights" of James 1:17] as are an integral part of salvation qualifying a person for eventual entrance into Paradise and not Hades?
Matthew 5:48 You, therefore, must [not should nor can] be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Luke 6:46 "Why do you call me: "Lord, Lord," and not do what I tell you?
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with all humans, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Even though we currently are "sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10) and also "perfected [as sanctified ones] for all time, by Christ's single offering" (Hebews 10:14), apostasy is possible for which neither our needed self-sacrifice of doing good works nor even Christ's sacrifice on the cross applies to us on the following frightful and terrifying condition:
Hebrews 6:8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.
Hebrews 10:26 If we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins
Hebrews 10:27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.
Indeed, what distinguishes an authentic evangelical Christian from a fake-imposter pseudo-"christian" is that the former "delights in the Law of God in their inmost self" whereas the latter disregards, ignores, even despises the Law of God in their inmost self:"
Romans 7:22 I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self...
Even when reluctantly and temporarily giving in to various temptations while besieged by outside non-solicited immoral or immodest duress (as Eve and Adam were from the Tempter in the Garden), real Christians still delight in the Law of God even while they are lamentably but sometimes even urgently disobeying that Law (for the time being) because of non-asked-for lurid demonic incitement or sadistic deprivation of whatever -- and that is why the benevolent Creator who imposed the "perfect-Garden" Serpent-and-Tree stumbling blocks, thankfully provided that completely-restorative Contingency Plan known as the Christian Gospel.
So are such temporarily-sinning Christians actually "saved?" Are they being deliberate and malicious, judgmental, intolerant hypocrites non-compliant against loving inclusive diversity? Yes or No?
Proverbs 24:16 ...a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again; but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.
Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Second Corinthians 1:19 The Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not: Yes and No; but in him it is always: Yes.
And how about Saint Mary? Was she immaculately sinless from the start, and if so, why did she [in her Magnificat] confess a need for a Savior?
Luke 1:47 ...and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...
Was Mary the "mother of God?"
One might presume so, according to the exclamation of Elizabeth:
Luke 1:43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
But was Mary the Source of Lordship for Elizabeth? And did Christ's Lordship originate out of Mary?
For most people, the mention of the word: "God" has Trinitarian implications, and it almost goes without saying that pitifully-finite and now-deceased, redeemed-by-Christ, sinner Mary did not birth God the Father Almighty nor the Holy Spirit.
In fact, Mary did not birth the Son of God but only birthed the Son of Man. That Son-of-God Divine nature of Jesus was incepted not by Mary nor by any human male [especially not in fornication as disbelieving jews wrongly implied in John 8:41] but instead by the LORD [YHWH] Himself:
Luke 1:35 And the angel said to her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."
Proverbs 30:4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the Earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name? Surely you know!
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Hey, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6 To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called: "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Matthew 1:23 Hey, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called: "Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).
Such power exists of womankind producing a human of either gender without the help of a human male [albeit with the help of the Trinity]? Sort of makes up for Eve's failure in the Garden, yes?
But Mary's gender and humankind inferiority was evidenced by Jesus, more than once, referring to her as "woman" instead of "mother:"
John 2:4 And Jesus said to her: "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
John 19:26 When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother: "Woman, behold, your son!"
Familial allegiance was of little importance to Jesus compared to greater aspirations and loyalties:
Mark 3:32 And a crowd was sitting around Him; and they said to Him: "Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you."
33 And He replied: "Who are my mother and my brothers?"
34 And looking around on those who sat about Him, He said: "Here are my mother and my brothers!
35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother."
Luke 8:20 And He was told: "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you."
Luke 8:21 But He said to them: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
Luke 14:26 "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
The reply of Jesus to the first Scripturally-recorded maryolatrous-catholic woman was quite telling:
Luke 11:27 As He said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him: "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!"
Luke 11:28 But He replied: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
Thus, it behooves the blessed of all Christian denominations to refrain from [with cowardly monkey-see-monkey-do conformity acquiescing to those around them] petitioning Mary as some convenient or additional Mediator with mindless and deviant rote mantras such as: "Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners..." and similar quasi-blasphemous incantations.
My final topic will involve the superstition of "purgatory" - which apparently (I have heard) is found somewhere in the apocryphal bowels of Maccabees.
The false presumption of being allowed to "live like the Devil" before death, then make up for it in "purgatory," is not concordant with the following Scripture:
Hebrews 12:17 You know that afterward, when [Esau] desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, because he got no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
Second Corinthians 6:2 He says: "At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation." Hey, now is the acceptable time; hey, now is the day of salvation.
No where in canonical (Spirit-approved Jewish-authored) Scripture is the word: "purgatory" nor the concept found. May ISIS behead anyone who claims otherwise.
Instead, there is the word "Hades" from which there is no penance of restoration possible and no transport away from, once consigned therein:
Luke 16:19 There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores,
21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried;
23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he called out: "Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame."
25 But Abraham said: "Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great Chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.'
27 And he said: "Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house,
28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
29 But Abraham said: "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."'
30 And he said: "No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent."
31 He said to him: "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead."
Speaking of Hades, it has been incorrectly inferred, in some of the church creeds, that Christ burned in anguish in Hades for a while before rising up to Heaven with a host of captives (Ephesians 4:8). But, examining the precise words of Scripture instead of concocting suppositions, clarification is obtained:
Acts 2:27 You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption.
Acts 2:31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
"Abandoning" a soul to Hades certainly does not mean temporary residence therein, but instead complete avoidance of such (as was not the case in the corrupted flesh of the rich man whose corrupted tongue was being corrupted with invisible tormenting flame in Hades).
If anyone deserved temporary punishment in some never-never-land made-up-mythical "purgatory," it would have been the eventually-penitent thief on a cross next to Jesus, who (not being baptized nor ingesting communion before his painful demise on said cross) was amply qualified for prompt entrance into Paradise simply by called Jesus: "Lord:"
Luke 23:42 [KJV, not RSV] And [the finally penitent thief] said: "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
That is the same thief described in:
Mark 15:32 "Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with Him also reviled Him.
Luke 23:39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, exclaiming: "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
40 But the other told him off, saying: "Do you not fear God, being that you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly, because we are receiving appropriate retribution against our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."
The immediate destination for that repentant thief was not "purgatory" but instead Paradise:
Luke 23:43 And [Jesus] said to him: "Truthfully I say to you: today you will be with me in Paradise."
That thief was no exception nor Special Case. Such same-day entrance into Paradise (not "purgatory") is also the case with all those saints who die with loving belief and trust in their claimed Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, I wish to thank all you for your patience listening to my brief essay today, and may the Lord guide you and protect you as you continue to witness for Him and His during these momentous last days amidst increasing rebellion, defiance, persecution, and both verbal and violent hostility.