One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

April 27, 2011

For Wednesday of the Octave of Easter

Luke 24:13-35

Emmaus may have been the home of Cleopas and his fellow disciple.
At least it was their goal to spend the night in Emmaus after leaving Jerusalem.
The Gospel testifies that as they drew near to Emmaus they thought the Lord Jesus, whom they did not recognize, was going on farther.
They stopped him, and asked him to stay with them in Emmaus for the night.
He would be their guest, and they would share their lodging or home with him.
Their mysterious road companion had made their hearts burn within them with his unfolding of the meanings of all the old Holy Writings that dealt with the Anointed One.
Now Cleopas and the other disciple wanted to host him as their guest.
This was thoughtful and kind of them, since night was drawing near.
However, surely they hoped also that he would go on speaking.
“So he went in to stay with them.”
By custom, the host was to take a place at the head of the table, break the bread, and give a share to the guest.
Not today, though!
The mysterious guest in Emmaus failed to act as a guest.
He went against custom.
He took over.
He, their guest, broke the bread for them.
In doing this, he overturned their relationships, making himself the host, the householder, the master, and making them his guests and followers.
Cleopas and his fellow disciple recognized in the takeover that before them was their master, no longer dead, but wondrously alive.
Let this be a lesson for us.
If we want him to warm our hearts within us, let us ask the Risen Anointed One to open the Scriptures for us.
Even more, let us invite him to stay with us in the darkness that befalls the world.
Let us invite him to take over our lives— to take over, overturn, and break our old customs of sin— so that we may know him in the breaking of the bread.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 29, 2011

For Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Matthew 18:21-35

Although his apostle asked him today how often to forgive a brother, the Lord Jesus answered with a parable likening the Kingdom of heaven to a king settling accounts with his servants.
The Lord did not start the parable by telling of a debt between equals— whether they were fellow servants or brothers.
Rather, the Lord began with a debt a man owed to his king.
The original language of the Gospel gives the size of the debt an actual number equal to the salary for one hundred and fifty thousand years of work.
A debt that might as well be EVERLASTING!
God our King brought us as EVERLASTING souls into being out of nothing but his own goodness.
He forever upholds us in being out of sheer mercy and goodness.
For us merely to live is to be in debt forever to God.
For us to be alive fully is to be mindfully and joyfully grateful to him.
We can never pay back to God the debt we owe for our everlasting souls, but we can choose to live for him lives of upright thankfulness.
Having said all this, I now wonder at how our debt both rebels against itself and multiplies itself blasphemously through any one of our knowing and willful sins.
Mercy indeed holds us in being forever.
How unimaginable and how unbelievable it is that God himself in Christ handed himself over to torture and the death penalty for all our debts against himself.
At the point of fulfilling the SUM— ConSUMmatum est— Christ said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
He paid our debt to his Father.
Yet— unbelievably and unimaginably— he also hands over the payment to us.
Take... eat... my body... given up for you.
Take... drink... my blood... shed for you... so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

By agreeing and daring to take, eat, and drink the payment, memory commits us to give it to the Father to whom it belongs.
We are to give it to him from within our own bodies and blood in the lives we choose to live and in the mercy we bestow on our brothers as a small but nonetheless entirely required imitation of God’s everlasting mercy to us in Christ.
Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, almighty Father for ever and ever.

That God Be Glorified in All

February 28, 2011

For Monday of the Eighth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Mark 10:17-27

Today’s Gospel tells us the Lord Jesus looked with love upon a man who had observed the commandments from his youth.
The man had other lovable deeds.
First, he RAN to meet the Lord.
Second, he KNELT down.
He showed eagerness, reverence, and submission, even before telling of his lifelong OBEDIENCE to the commandments.
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him....”
It seems the mood of this love was fatherly, for the Lord turned to his disciples, and said to them, “Children....”
We are the sons and daughters of the Lord Jesus.
As a father he loves us.
Precisely as a loving father he tells us to do the impossible.
It is impossible for men to inherit eternal life, impossible for men to enter the Kingdom of God, impossible for men to be saved.
Like the man who had many possessions, we may be sad at what the Lord Jesus tells us.
Like the disciples in the Gospel today, we may be “exceedingly astonished” at what he requires.
“For men it is impossible....”
He meant what he said, because the Gospel today marked three times that before speaking the Lord Jesus LOOKED at his listeners.
He LOOKED at the rich man, and then told him to sell everything, give to the poor, and follow him if he wanted to inherit eternal life.
He LOOKED at his disciples, and then said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!”
Again, he first:
LOOKED at them and said,
“For men it is impossible....”

With fatherly love he looks at us and asks the impossible.
We may be “exceedingly astonished” and tempted to go away sad.
For men it is impossible,
but not for God.
All things are possible for God.

All things are possible for God who is a loving father to us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us RUN to him, KNEEL down before him, and OBEY his commandments.
Though he has all heavenly wealth as God, he sold himself as a slave to sin, and as a man like us he gave his all to our poverty, our impossibility, and our death.
Risen from the dead, God and man have together done the impossible in Christ.
He has himself become our eternal life, our salvation, and our treasure in heaven, the Kingdom of God.
With faith let us look steadfastly to his fatherly love, daring to hope for it, taking courage from it, and making bold to love and follow him in return.

That God Be Glorified in All

February 01, 2011

For Tuesday of the Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Mark 5:21-43

Despite the Lord’s strict orders that no one should know the Lord raised to life the dead daughter of Jairus, Jairus made sure everyone knew.
All came to know it so well that the name of Jairus is preserved here in the Gospel, though we find it nowhere else.
Jairus also made sure everyone knew the words of the Lord, Talithà koûm.
However, perhaps Jairus was so taken with the Lord Jesus that he forgot to tell us his daughter’s own name.
The happenings in today’s Gospel show the power of faith in the Lord.
The woman had been sick for years, but had faith to reach out for the Lord’s power.
For his part, the Lord had power that reached out for her faith.
Faith is power that works together with the power of Christ.
Though he knew “that power had gone out from him,” he told the woman, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.”
In his calling the faith-filled woman “daughter” we see his fatherly bearing.
Her healing unfolded inside another happening of fatherly bearing and faith.
Jairus already had faith that the Lord’s hands could heal and save his young daughter.
On the way to the home, the Lord and Jairus heard she was already dead.
However, the Lord turned to spur on the power of Jairus, the power of faith: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
Inside the house, with the faith of Jairus at his side, the Lords stretched forth the power of his hand and his words, Talithà koûm, to raise the dead daughter of Jairus back to life and health.
A few moments before, on the way to the house, the Lord had told a newly healed woman, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.”
In the same way, Jairus could have now said to his own little girl, “Daughter, my faith in the Lord has saved you.”
Both the healing of the woman and the raising of the girl let us see the power that comes out of the Body of Christ to meet the power of faith.
From the Body and Blood of Christ, his power meets, touches, spurs on, and works with the power of our own faith.
The Lord’s words to Jairus— “Do not be afraid; just have faith”— come to us now as we walk through the Mass towards the Body and Blood of Christ.
When the power of his Body and Blood meets the power of our faith, his words to the woman in today’s Gospel are for us also: “Daughter”— Son— “your faith has saved you.”
When he returns, he will wake the dead as well as the living to more life than they had ever known in their own flesh and blood and souls.
By his power and our faith, he will ban from us forever all sickness, pain, suffering, and death itself.
Then, whether or not Jairus had really forgotten to tell us his little girl’s name, the Lord will never let us forget our own joy at his side— Sons and daughters, your faith has saved you.

That God Be Glorified in All

January 23, 2011

For the Third Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Matthew 4:12-23
Isaiah 8:23 to 9:3
1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17

Today’s Gospel shows us the beginning of the public life of the Lord Jesus in the fullness of his manhood.
John the Baptist had been preaching the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Then the kingdom showed up in the person of the Lord seeking and undergoing the baptism of repentance at the hands of John.
Then, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, as the Gospel says, the Lord did not begin straightaway his “hands-on” public work and preaching, but withdrew into the desert to be alone with the heavenly Father for forty days.
There he prayed, he fasted, and he withstood temptations by which the devil tried to lead the Lord to repent from the mission the Father gave him.
After the forty days, the Lord went to his home in the hills of Galilee, but, as the Gospel says today, he “left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum” on the shore of the lake of Galilee.
There at Capernaum, he started his public mission.
He began preaching the same— word for word— as John the Baptist [Mt. 3:2], as today’s Gospel says [Mt. 4:17].
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Calling all to repentance, the Lord was seeking to fish them into life in the kingdom of heaven.
Then he also began to sharpen his message of repentance for specific men.
The meaning of “to repent,” in the original language of the Gospel at its word-for-word roots, is “to change mind.”
While everyone else heard the Lord say, “Repent,” a few Galilean fishermen heard him say to them personally, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
For them— Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John— to repent, to change mind, would be to follow the Lord Jesus and to think of themselves as no longer fishing to eat or sell, but as fishing men into the life of the kingdom of heaven.
The Lord would send them to do this new kind of fishing by preaching the same thing that John the Baptist and the Lord himself preached.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
When the day came for the risen Lord to ascend to his throne at the Father’s side, he told his apostles “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” [Lk. 24:47].
Ten days later, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, their public preaching was born from the “upper room.”
That day, Peter told the thousands of Jewish Pentecost pilgrims in Jerusalem what they should do [Acts 2:38].
Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mark the shift of wording!
It is no longer straightforwardly that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Rather, “at hand” are: the name of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
To repent, to change mind, as baptized sinners, is to receive the Father’s forgiveness, the Son’s name, and the Holy Spirit’s gift.
The beginning of the Lord’s own preaching, and the beginning of the preaching he gave his Apostolic Church, and thus the beginning of heeding the Lord and his Church is repentance.
It lets us be fished into the kingdom of the life of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
When the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and ascended, leaving his own “hands-on” work and preaching in the hands of his Apostolic Church, the Church, rather than begin straightaway to preach publicly, withdrew for a while into the “upper room” [Acts 1:13], the birthplace and chamber of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
From the Eucharistic Body and Blood of the Son, the Spirit of the Father brings to birth the preaching and works of the Church, calling all nations to a change of mind.
this is my body
given up for you
this is
my blood
shed for you and the many
so that sins may be forgiven

Do this in memory of me.

The Lord is fishing here in the Church, here at this Eucharistic Sacrifice.
Repent, and let him catch you that you may live.

That God Be Glorified in All

January 04, 2011

For Tuesday after Epiphany

1 John 4:7-10
Mark 6:34-44

The root of the word “epiphany” shows up in the original language of the first reading today.
In this way the love of God was REVEALED to us [“epiphanied” to us]: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him.
Each day at Mass this whole week, the Church opens God’s Word to other great and small epiphanies of his “only-begotten Son” whom he sent “into the world.”
These epiphanies reveal the identity, mission, power, actions, thoughts, and even the feelings of God the Son who came to be born a man in Bethlehem.
Today the Gospel reveals that in seeing the vast crowd of humanity the Lord Jesus thought of them as “sheep without a shepherd.”
Although our English version here says “his HEART was moved with pity for them,” the original language uses a root word for a different bodily organ, the SPLEEN.
To us today that sounds quite odd.
It simply means the Lord Jesus had strong and deep feelings when he “saw the vast crowd,” for he thought them to be “like sheep without a shepherd.”
This vast crowd— the original language spells out that counting only the males there are five thousand— this vast crowd is not there by accident.
Rather, they have already seen or heard of the Lord Jesus, his amazing teaching, and his miracles.
Today in the Gospel, he had left behind the towns and the crowds around the lake of Galilee, to be alone with his apostles and to rest.
However, the vast crowd, as the Gospel had told it, went RUNNING after him.
Running like abandoned sheep eager to have the Lord Jesus be their shepherd!
Without the living experience of sheep, perhaps we would be deeply moved to think instead of a vast crowd of orphaned children desperate to have fathers and mothers, and running, running, running to catch up with the Lord Jesus.
Have you and I come to Mass today, running like love-starved orphans, eager to catch the Lord Jesus?
What would we find in him?
Today’s first reading tells us “God is agápe”— love.
So as to “epiphany” himself to us, reveal himself to us, the first reading goes on to say Love has “sent his Son as expiation for our sins” and also “so that we might have life through him”— and not merely earthly life [Greek “bios”], but even God’s life [Greek “zoe”].
The Son of Love in his Gospel today is moved deeply to see the vast crowd running after him.
The Gospel tells us his first response to these abandoned sheep was “to teach them many things.”
The testimony of God’s Word today is that the Son comes to give us life, to be expiation for our sins, and to be our teacher in “many things.”
Only as the last concern does he bless five loaves and two fish to turn them into more than enough to feed five thousand hungry men.
Even at that, he overdoes it to see to it they have the sacred number of exactly twelve— twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish.
The sacred overflow is a sign that he has come to do far more than fill their bellies.
It is an “over-flow,” just as the Biblical word epiphany is literally “over-show.”
We may be sheep running to find the care of a shepherd in the Lord Jesus.
We may be orphans running to find the deeply moved love of a father in the Lord Jesus.
Let us take care to come running for what he wants to give and to show.
In the testimony of God’s Word, it is far more than food for our bellies.
Rather, he wants to teach us, to give us his Godly life, and to expiate for our sins.
Let us come running for that.

That God Be Glorified in All

December 27, 2010

For the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

1 John 1:1-4 John 20:1a,2-8

In pastures near Bethlehem, an angel told Judean shepherds they would find “in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” and that they would find him as “a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” [Lk. 2:11]— swaddled and in a manger, an animals feeding trough that did not even belong to the baby’s parents.
Today in the Gospel, Galilean fishermen run to the tomb where they had buried the same baby as a grown man— a tomb that did not belong to that man or his parents— and there the fishermen found the empty cloths that had swaddled the dead man’s body and head.
The baby’s swaddling clothes in the manger and the man’s swaddling clothes in the tomb served very different yet similar sets of purposes.
The baby’s swaddling clothes embraced him, calmed him, comforted him, warmed him, and kept him still.
The dead man’s swaddling clothes also embraced him, but could do nothing to warm, comfort, or calm his dead body.
The dead man’s body lay in stillness within the swaddling cloths of the tomb for only two nights, because on the third day he rose, and death would no longer swaddle or even so much as touch him again.
Our faith swaddles him now, or, rather, he swaddles us with eternal life, and St. John who was there at the tomb with St. Peter overflows in telling it by his letter to us.
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have looked upon
and touched with our hands
... the Word of life—
... made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you
so that you too may have fellowship
[“communion,” “oneness,” “participation,” “sharing”]
with us;
for our fellowship
[“communion,” “oneness,” “participation,” “sharing”]
is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

By sharing, participation, oneness, communion, fellowship with the apostles, we hear, see, and touch what they did: the Word of eternal life that now swaddles us.
We hear this in the following poetic lines from the “Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church” [202]:
We believe in God the Creator of the flesh;
and we believe in the resurrection of flesh
which is the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.

He came to save the body of flesh, because, in the same passage the Church says also, “the flesh is the hinge of salvation.”
Also, in her Catechism [1003-1004], the Church says of our fellowship with Christ that:
.... When we rise on the last day we also will appear with him in glory.
In expectation of that day, the believer’s BODY and soul ALREADY participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ....

That we might be swaddled, body and soul, with eternal salvation, we now eat and drink communion now, sharing now, participation now, fellowship now, oneness now in the real flesh and real blood of the man whose first earthly bed was a borrowed manger and whose last earthly bed was a borrowed tomb.
In the same flesh and blood, Christ Jesus the Lord now has his own everlasting throne.
St. John wrote of it in his letter and his Gospel, and we celebrate it now, so that, as he writes, “our joy may be complete.”

That God Be Glorified in All