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.

March 28, 2006

For Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 5:17-30
Isaiah 49:8-15

Today through the voice of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord tenderly promises salvation to all who hope in him.
For those who are undergoing baptismal preparations during Lent, the Lord through his ancient prophet promises and foreshadows salvation through baptism and the Eucharist.

“Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on a day of salvation I help you.
Come out of the darkness and show yourselves!
Along the ways I shall give you food.
You shall not hunger or thirst.
I guide you beside springs of water.”

To all of us who are sinners, whether already baptized or not— the Lord tells us in the same prophecy:

“You said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’
But I, the Lord, say to you,
‘Can a mother forget her infant?
Can she be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.’”

Finally in the Gospel, Christ the Lord, the Son of God in person promises us the same tender mercy and salvation.

“Just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever hears my word
and believes in the One who sent me
has eternal life
and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.”

For all who repent from sin, for all who pass from unbelief into faith, for all who receive baptism, there is the same promise: the passage from darkness into light; the passage from death into the inheritance of life and salvation.
Today is the third Wednesday before Easter.
The Mass of this third Wednesday before Easter used to be a special day for the baptismal candidates, the catechumens, in the city of Rome.
In Rome, from about the year of our Lord 600 until the year 1000, the catechumens were brought to church on this Wednesday.
They celebrated the same readings we are still using today.
The Mass on this Wednesday included ceremonies for the catechumens as a part of their preparations for baptism at Easter.
First, before the beginning of Mass, salt was placed on their tongues as a symbol of the saving wisdom they were to taste in the Gospel and Scripture, as well as a symbolic preservative to maintain them in that same saving wisdom.
Other special ceremonies followed the Gospel of the Mass.
First, the Creed was handed down to the catechumens.
One of the acolytes would lay his hands upon the head of the catechumen and recite the Creed line by line with the catechumen repeating each line after him.
Then the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, was handed down— also line by line.
Finally, the Gospel book was brought forward and handed over for the catechumens to kiss.
We, too, at this Mass today, are blessed to taste the salt of wisdom and salvation, handed down in the tradition of the Church: the tradition that is faith itself, the Lord’s own Prayer, his Gospel and his Blessed Eucharist.
May what we receive today preserve us forever in holiness, wisdom and salvation.
For our part, when we say, “Amen,” to the Body and Blood of Christ, we are agreeing to hand ourselves over unto holiness, wisdom and salvation.

That God Be Glorified in All


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