Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Festival of St. Henry of Finland, Bishop and Martyr

Posted on January 19, 2023 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Matthew 5:17-26 (NKJV)
5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”
The Fifth Commandment includes much more than physical acts of violence. According to the Lord, any evil thoughts or emotions that we have about our neighbor, such as hatred, constitute murder in God’s eyes (1 John 3:15). Any unjust anger or rebuke toward him to embitter his life is the same as if we caused him physical harm, and just as offensive as murder to God.
The substance of the commandment is not simply about killing, but about having a true lack of love for your brother or sister. If we recognize from God’s Word that we’ve wronged our neighbor and sinned against him, we should go to him and confess our sin to him, humbly asking for his forgiveness, so that we can both come to the Lord’s house and offer our gifts to God as reconciled brethren. The righteousness of faith should be clearly visible by our righteousness of life, not only in following God’s commandments, but also in our efforts to be reconciled to our brethren. As God has forgiven us, so we ought to desire the forgiveness of our brothers and sisters, and forgive one another. May the Lord always work in us by His grace through the Holy Spirit to keep us humble and penitent, gratefully receiving the forgiveness of our sins through the redemptive work of our Savior and His exceeding righteousness for our entry into the kingdom of heaven.
Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, Who dost govern all things in heaven and earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people and grant us Thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Collect for the Festival of St. Henry of Finland, Bishop and Martyr
O God, who dost guide Thy Church through the faithful ministrations of Thy servants, grant that Thy ministers, like St. Henry, stand steadfast against those who would work iniquity; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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