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.

July 13, 2006

For Friday of the Fourteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 10:16-23

The universal persecution of the Christian religion by Roman imperial decree, as we know, ended one thousand six hundred ninety-three years ago. [Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan, A.D. 313]
Today in the United States, we do not have an official state policy of persecution, prosecution and execution of Christians for the explicit, black and white reason of religion.
Furthermore, none of us may presume to declare in black and white that the second coming of Christ is at hand.
So, we live in an indefinite, gray “somewhere” that lies between the blood-red age of martyrdom in the early Church at one end and the moment of the Lord’s return in vivid, royal glory at the other end.
None of us may claim to know which of those two black and white poles of Christian history is actually closer to us in time.
We who are monks need to have a special sensitivity to the fact that we live in a gray “in-between” age.
It was when the black and white and blood-red age of Roman imperial persecution began to fade that Christian monks first began to appear.
In a sense, the first Christian monks were extremists rebelling against “grayness”.
Since for the most part they no longer had the opportunity to DIE for the faith, they chose to BE ALONE, living for FAITH alone, abandoning the world to live in the remote deserts.
It is not easy and perhaps not ordinarily possible to live our Christian faith as a never-ending drama— whether in the monastery or not.
Nonetheless, we need to bear constantly and sharply in our hearts and minds the fact that Christianity’s central proclamation IS a drama.
That is, for the sake of our salvation, the Son of God became a man, died for our sins, rose bodily from the dead, went bodily into heaven, and will return at the end of time.
Here in the Eucharist, we come daily to immerse ourselves in the infinitely living mystery and presence of the drama of Christ alive, dead, risen, ascended and returning.
Monks or not, whenever we eat and drink the Eucharist, we lift up the black and white and blood-red war-banner of Christ, proclaiming his death and resurrection until he returns in glory.
Today in his gospel, the Lord has told us that if we endure until the end we will be saved.
The prayer he taught us implicitly warns us to keep before our eyes the drama of endurance.
He tells us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
He does not have in mind just those merely gray temptations of daily life, but also the black and white fundamental choice of belief or unbelief in him as Lord and God.
That is a choice not only between atheism and Christianity.
It is a black and white choice of faith in Christ against any other religious faith.
The Old Testament never arrived at any prayer like, “Lead us not into temptation.”
Everyday, when we pray these WORDS of Christ during the EUCHARIST of Christ, we go on to add other words that sound like a prayer before BATTLE— a prayer as we stand beneath the victorious, blood-red war-banner of Christ our King.
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and forever.

That God Be Glorified in All


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