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.

August 18, 2006

For Friday of the Nineteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 19:3-12

Today in his Gospel, Christ lays down what he calls the Creator’s plan for marriage “FROM THE BEGINNING”— that is, before the first time that human sin hardened the human heart.
The Creator’s original plan is that:
a man shall … be joined to his wife
what God has joined together, man must not separate.
To live marriage in Christ is to counter one’s own sinful hardness of heart and to work and stretch past sin towards the Creator’s ORIGINAL plan.
God originally gave grace-filled tenderness and unity to the human heart.
That is the original and final goal and vocation of Christian marriage.
Today in the Gospel, the disciples recognize that Christ is RAISING the bar.
Then, he raises a SECOND bar: celibacy “FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.”
Not celibacy for the sake of EARTHLY PRACTICALITY!
Not celibacy for the sake of time and energy to do “church-work”!
He calls it celibacy “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”
The Kingdom of heaven pre-dates the creation of a man and woman, even though it is always among us.
In the mind of Christ, celibacy points past, over and beyond merely practical realities.
Christ’s celibacy points to God himself.
The man and woman who marry are called to communion with each other before God.
Christ calls the celibate simply to communion before God with no human spouse.
Elsewhere in his Gospel, Christ tells us that in the end everyone in the kingdom will be in communion with God with no human spouse.
The celibate receives the call to let his heart and his life point to that kingdom for whose coming we all pray.
However, because sinful hardness of heart bogs down all men and women, the Christian celibate joins Christian husbands and wives in striving for the grace-filled tenderness that the Creator originally gave to the human heart.
Here in his Eucharist, Christ— a celibate and our Creator— brings us the communion of the Kingdom of heaven, together with the strength, tenderness and grace of the heart of God.
Here in his Eucharist, Christ gives married Christians and celibate Christians their marching orders, their vocation, their strength, their model, their fulfillment.
Once again, the Eucharistic prayer of the Church reminds us to pray “that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.”

That God Be Glorified in All


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