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 24, 2006

For Monday of the Sixteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 12:38-42

Just a few days ago our Lord said the day of judgment would go better for repentant pagans than for impenitent believers.
Today he goes a step further.
He says that the pagan city Niniveh and the pagan queen of Sheba will rise from the dead on the day of judgment and pass condemnation on believers, because these pagans repented at a mere word, but believers ask for miraculous signs.
Once again, our Lord equates faith with repentance from sin.
How many of us modern, Western Christians could characterize our personal faith as penitential?
Not only today and a few days ago, but from the very beginning of his preaching career, our Lord tied together repentance and faith.
He began his public career by simply preaching, “Repent and believe in the Gospel!”
Repentance is the “Fountain of Youth” for faith.
Repentance is the daily resurrection of faith.
Today our Lord points to his resurrection as the only real sign that he will give to those who want signs but fail to repent.
An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign;
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.

Faith in the risen Lord is faith in the forgiveness of sins, but such faith requires repentance.
On the day he rose from the dead, his first words to his followers were about the forgiveness of sins.
Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me,
even so I send you.
Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any,
they are forgiven;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

So, not only at the beginning and throughout his preaching career and public ministry, but also at their consummation in his resurrection from the dead, our Lord equates faith in his “Good News” with repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
We modern Westerners have lost a sense of sin.
This is the same as having lost true faith.
We can say this the other way round.
We modern Westerners have lost true faith.
This is the same as having lost a sense of sin.
Without repentance, we have no faith.
Then we are not at peace with the risen Christ … and not at peace with the Father who sent him … and not at peace with the Holy Spirit that comes from the breath of the risen Christ.
Our Lord taught us in a parable [Lk. 18:9-14] that the secret of holiness could be found in a short prayer of repentance.
Two men went up into the temple to pray,
one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,
“God, I thank thee that I am not like the other men,
extortioners, unjust adulterers,
or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week,
I give tithes of all that I get.”
But the tax collector,
standing far off,
would not even lift up his eyes to heaven,
but beat his breast,
saying [seven words],
I tell you,
this man went down to his house justified
rather than the other.

The Lord is risen from the dead.
That is good news.
In his Eucharist, he gives us his own flesh and blood— his whole self, human and divine.
That, too, is good news.
However, on the day of his resurrection and on the night of his first Eucharist, he told us to remember all of it as the forgiveness of sins.
Take this
my body
given up
Take this
my blood
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

“That sins may be forgiven.”
“Behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”

That God Be Glorified in All


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