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.

May 29, 2006

For Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

John 17:20-26

Today in his Gospel every sentence our Lord speaks is about unity:
our unity or union with Christ the Son of God;

the Son’s union with his Father;

our union with the Father through union with his Son.

This holy union is SPIRIT.
The Church’s faith in that fact comes out when she prays through the Son who lives and reigns with the Father IN THE UNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
So today Christ our Lord comes to us, his Church, praying for us and with us that we might have UNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
UNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT … from the Father … and through the Son.
If we are to grow in loving Christ and his Father, it will come from unity of the Holy Spirit.
How do we come into unity and holiness of the Spirit?
Christ our Lord tells us today that unity of the Holy Spirit comes FROM and IN the Church of his apostles.
He speaks and prays today from the Last Supper, in the upper room, in the presence of his apostles.
Praying in the presence of his apostles, his Church, he tells the Father:
I do not pray for THESE only,
but also for those who believe in me through THEIR word,
that they may all be ONE;
even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Union with God our Father comes through his Son … in the Spirit … from the Church … to the world.
For the world, this is a scandal at least twice over.
It would be easier in the measure of the world, if union with God were a purely spiritual matter … easier if God had not become a man of flesh and blood … easier if his holy Church were only a spiritual reality, not also a gathering of sinful men.
As our Lord prays for Holy Unity of the Spirit, his gathered Church has at its core twelve SINNERS.
One has already gone off to set up his BETRAYAL.
All the others will RUN away once the Lord is betrayed.
Their chief spokesman, Peter, will even LIE three times that he does not know the Lord.
The Lord does not ask us to defend or ignore the sins of the Church.
Rather, the Lord wants and prays that we believe in him through the word of the Church of Apostles so that we may be one in the Spirit with him and the Father.
He says:
I do not pray for THESE [my apostles] ONLY,
but also for those who believe in me through THEIR word,
that they may all be ONE.

Just as the Son of God’s Human Incarnation, his Death, Bodily Resurrection, Bodily Ascension and Bodily Return in glory at the end of time are all scandals or hurdles to unbelievers, so the Church itself is a scandal.
The Church is assembled of sinners who are called nonetheless to be one and holy … AND APOSTOLIC.
The Lord himself says today that faith in him comes from hearing the word of the apostles for whom he prays.
The word of the apostles is handed on in the Church: one Church, holy Church, universal Church, apostolic Church.
Yet our sins scandalize the world.
How, then, might we reach union with God in holiness of the Spirit and so bring greater credibility to the word we speak to the world?
We are within the anniversary of those several days between the Lord’s Ascension and the public revealing of the Holy Spirit in the Church at Jerusalem.
The Word of God, the Book of Acts, tells us that the apostles devoted themselves with one accord to prayer TOGETHER WITH MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS.
Mary received the word not from the apostles, but from an archangel.
At Nazareth, in the presence of an archangel, Mary entered the overshadowing unity of the Spirit BEFORE the Church and FOR the Church, the Body of Christ.
She did so not as a passive object, but by freely speaking, “Let it be to me according to your word!”
Mary lived her obedient freedom all the way to the cross, even though the Church of sinners had run away.
From the cross, our Lord recognized and spoke to Mary first, and only then to the disciple behind her, telling the disciple to receive Mary as mother.
For ten days after our Lord’s Ascension, Mary, Mother of Disciples, brought her obedient freedom into the prayer of the apostolic Church. [Book of Acts, chapter 1, verse 14!]
With the apostles, let us with one accord devote ourselves to prayer together with Mary our mother, the mother of Jesus, that we may receive unity and holiness of the Spirit.

Lord! Let it be to us according to your word! Receive us as you have promised! Do not disappoint us in our hope!

That God Be Glorified in All


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