Today is Reformation Day and it commemorates the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis on the door at Wittenberg setting off, finally, the protestant reformation. Every time I think of the Reformation I am reminded of the phrase "ecclesia semper reformanda", the church always reforming, and it challenges me to remember the call to daily reform both individually and as a church and the call to reformation always reminds me of a "pre-reformer", Jan Hus, and the image of Christ.
In 1402 Jan Hus was appointed the pastor of Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, Czechoslovakia and it was at that place that he began his journey calling for the reformation of the church that ultimately ended in his being burned at the stake. You see, on the walls of the chapel there were paintings contrasting the behavior of the Popes and Christ; the Pope rode a horse; Christ walked bare foot. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet; the Pope preferred having his feet kissed. Hus was so moved by the images of Christ that he had no choice but to call to the most “spiritual” in his society and condemn their betrayal of those images.
Jus expresses this conviction in his writing in De Ecclesia:
(They) gather up briefly all that the Scripture says, and especially the Gospel; what seems to indicate to them that they ought to be rich, live delicately, be famous in the world, and suffer no reproach for Christ, these sayings they ruminate over, proclaim aloud and make known all too extensively. But whatever calls for the imitation of Christ, as poverty, gentleness, humility, endurance, chastity, toil or patience – these passages they suppress or gloss over at their pleasure or expressly set aside as not pertaining to salvation. And the devil, who is the worst of sophists, leads them astray by their ignorance…
I site Hus’ life and writings because, as is the case in any call to the reform of the church, we must begin with the image of Christ. Any individual who seeks to reform his sinful state and come to salvation must first look to the image of Christ as their hope, any follower of Jesus who desires to reflect and magnify the grace that brought them faith must look to the image of Christ as their pattern and at a time when the Church looks to correct it’s crooked path and return to the way of the cross we must be brought to the indelible image of Jesus Christ. This has always been true and will always be true.