Monday, March 3, 2008
Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar ("For You")--Martin Luther
“..there is besides this command also a promise…This ought most strongly to stir us up and encourage us. For here stand the kind and precious words, ‘This is My body, which is given for you…This is My blood…shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’ These words, I have said, are not preached to wood and stone, but to me and you. Otherwise, Christ might just as well be silent and not institute a Sacrament. Therefore consider, and read yourself into this word you, so that He may not speak to you in vain.
Here He offers to us the entire treasure that He has brought for us from heaven. With the greatest kindness He invites us to receive it also in other places like when He says in St. Matthew 11:28, ‘Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’…We must never think of the Sacrament as something harmful from which we had better flee, but as a pure, wholesome, comforting remedy that grants salvation and comfort. It will cure you and give you life both in soul and body. For where the soul has recovered, the body also is relieved.
…Here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin. It contains and brings with it God’s grace and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune.
…If, therefore, you are heavy laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to this Sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength (Matthew 11:28). If you wait until you are rid of such burdens, so that you might come to the Sacrament pure and worthy, you must stay away forever. In that case Christ pronounces sentence and says, ‘If you are pure and godly, you have no need of Me, and I, in turn, no need of you.’ Therefore, the only people who are called unworthy are those who neither feel their weakness nor wish to be considered sinners.”