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 14, 2006

For Saturday of the Fourteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 10:24-33

Three times today in his Gospel our Lord tells us not to fear those who might persecute us for living and proclaiming our Lord’s teachings.
Once, however, he tells us to fear God indeed.
He asserts that God Almighty has the power and the freedom not only to kill the body, but also to destroy the soul in hell.
Him we should fear indeed!
We might choose to ignore these words or deny the possibility of their being true.
Nonetheless, they come to us as the words of Christ the Lord himself.
We westerners of the late twentieth century must especially safeguard the recognition of the real authority and freedom of God to condemn us to hell if our faith in God’s saving power and love is also to be safeguarded.
Remember: in Christ’s parable of the blessed sheep and the damned goats it is Christ himself who orders the accursed to depart into the fire prepared for the devil.
The Old Testament really has no notion of an afterlife of eternal punishment in hell.
Jesus Christ was the one who brought news of hell to Judaism and to history.
Damnation and salvation are two perspectives on the mystery of one Almighty God who without need or obligation has freely chosen to bring matter into existence out of nothing, to give it form, life and a human soul, thus creating each human person— doing so without need or obligation— doing so with no explanation other than his absolute freedom, power, goodness and love.
One of the prayers for the Mass (the opening prayer during the twenty-eighth week of the Church year) asks, “Lord, make your love the foundation of our lives.”
That prayer is a paradox, for the Lord’s love is the only reason we exist and live at all.
The Lord’s love is already the cause and foundation of our existence and our lives.
That God can destroy the body and cast us into hell is not so great a cause of perplexity as the mystery that he has created us at all— a mystery of his freedom, power, goodness and love.
God’s real goodwill toward us is affirmed in his Gospel today telling us of his counting one by one the hairs of our heads as if each hair were a treasure.
We who were brought into being out of nothing are esteemed, chosen and desired as treasure by God who is power, glory and infinity itself.
Do not be afraid!
God your Father numbers even the hairs of your head.

This mystery of God’s almighty goodness and love calls out to us, summoning us to faith, drawing us out of the grasp of fear and into the embrace of gratitude and wonder.
Wonder and gratitude are the essence of worship.
They are the roots of holy lives.
Wonder and gratitude are the roots of fulfillment and happiness.
The Lord’s love is already the cause and foundation of our lives.
The difficulty for us lies in our own failure to take up and use the gifts he has already given us.
In baptism and in all the sacraments, the grace of faith is a seed already planted in us.
We have only to bring to it the exercise of our freedom and our wills.
Here now in the Eucharist, the seed of Christ himself awaits us.
In this great gift of himself in his Body and Blood, he surrenders into our lives his own wonder and gratitude for the Father’s goodness and love.
Christ pours out for us and in us his own living sacrifice of praise.
In him, with and through him, let us give thanks and praise to the Lord our God!

That God Be Glorified in All


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