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 31, 2006

For Thursday of the Twenty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 24:42-51
1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

Today in one of his letters, we hear St. Paul pray for us.
… may the Lord … strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus….

Later in the same letter, St. Paul says to us, “You yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
In the book of Revelation [16:15], the Lord himself announces to us, “See, I am coming like a thief!”
Today in his Gospel, the Lord admonishes us in the same way.
Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.

He goes on to reveal that the Lord, the Son of Man, will appear suddenly and unexpectedly to JUDGE what he finds, and then either REWARD or PUNISH accordingly.
The words “to punish severely” appear in the reading today.
However, that is a translation that is too tame, and that disguises a more violent expression that the Gospel’s original language uses.
The expression is “to cut into pieces.”
Our Lord says in his Gospel today that the returning master of the house will CUT INTO PIECES the wicked servant.
Many today have a simplistic, bland and selective picture of Christ, one that leaves out any threat of hell or eternal damnation.
Our real Lord, in the rich mystery of his Gospel and New Testament, dramatically, harshly and repeatedly proposes the real possibility of being completely lost.
However, next to and at the same time as this real threat, the whole Gospel and New Testament also hold wide open the possibility of real hope for all.
Though there is a harsh threat from the Lord in his Gospel today, he invites from us not despair, but hope.
He asks, invites and commands us to expect him, to be on the lookout, to watch, to stay awake, to search and to hope for him, because he has declared both his constant presence and his eventual return.
One instance of his constant presence among us— one instance of his ever-present returning— is his Eucharist.
In his Eucharist, Christ the Lord breaks in upon us as JUDGE, judging what he finds.
When we rightly receive him in his Eucharist, we surrender ourselves to his judgment.
Paradoxically, our Divine Judge —Almighty-in-His-Love— Innocent and Pure— steals a place among the guilty who have received condemnation.
He took our guilt upon himself, and chose to be condemned in our place.
He the Lord was pierced and pinned by the nails of the cross.
He the Master was stabbed open by the blade of the lance.
He was punished in our stead.
He our God died the sinner’s death, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
This is He who comes as Judge in the Eucharist, pronouncing not merely a judgment of mercy, but one of SUBSTITUTION: he stands in our place and suffers our punishment, so that we might stand in his place and have a share in his glory.
In his Eucharist, then, we also rise with Him from the dead.
It is as the Risen One that he tells us who are already in Him:
Rise!
Awake!
Be watchful and ready!
I am already here.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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