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.

September 24, 2006

For the Twenty-Fifth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 9:30-37

Children don’t choose to be the smallest, weakest and most vulnerable members of the human race, but they are.
Adults don’t normally prefer to be small, weak and vulnerable.
Almighty God chose to come down from heaven in flesh and blood, born with all the smallness, weakness and vulnerability of an infant.
In the fullness of his manhood, he completely handed himself over— UNCONDITIONALLY AND WITHOUT LIMIT— to our worst weakness and vulnerability: death— death from torture and murder.
Almighty God who is Love shows on the cross that love has no conditions or limits.
He was not born in flesh and blood just to know earthly splendors and human pleasure— as good as those can be.
He came to take a share even in our suffering and death.
His taking part in human life— his having human flesh, bones and blood, his human joys, his own human suffering and death— his COMPLETE COMMUNION in the total reality of our humanity makes it possible for OUR total humanity to enter into the riches of God himself.
That is what happened when God rose from the dead still personally invested with human flesh and blood, still personally invested with human feeling, thinking and choosing.
Flesh and blood humanity itself— in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ— is seated now at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
When history is finally fulfilled at the return of Christ, we— if we have been faithful— we will each see our own, personal, total humanity receive full communion in the life and glory of God.
Almighty God in Christ has put himself at the bottom out of love for us sinners and our salvation.
The Creator of the Universe served our eternal welfare by dying as a slave and a criminal for our sins.
His crucifixion is the sign that God is Love without any condition, without any limits, without any self-interest.
That is why he teaches us to recognize him in what is small, weak and vulnerable.
Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.
Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.

Ever since God personally suffered human death, those who suffer, who are small, weak and vulnerable are the greatest reminders of what God did for us on the cross.
Yet, they are also much more than signs.
God tells us:
Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the LEAST brothers of mine, YOU DID FOR ME.

If we fail in this, then he goes on to say:
Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.
Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,

Our Lord tells us we can deserve eternal punishment by simple carelessness, forgetfulness or ignorance.
We can deserve eternal fire simply by NEGLECTING those who are small, weak and vulnerable.
All the more if by abortion or euthanasia we DELIBERATELY kill the small, the weak, the vulnerable, the unborn, the sick, the elderly!
Today the Lord says in his Gospel:
Whoever receives one child such as this in my name,
receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.

The smallest, the weakest and the most vulnerable are REPRESENTATIVES of Almighty God who chose the weakness, vulnerability and death of the cross because he is love without limits and without conditions.
Life is difficult.
We suffer.
We die.
If there is a God who is good and almighty, why is there any suffering at all?
As Christians, we do not yet have a solution to the mystery of suffering.
Nonetheless, our faith reminds us that God has given a new meaning to suffering.
The suffering of Christ is a sign of God’s presence, love, power and freedom.
A father and a mother are called to meet and serve the love, power, presence and freedom of God by caring for the lives of their children— even if that brings suffering.
Doing so makes them truly great men and women.
The Lord says:
Whoever receives one child such as this in my name,
receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.

Elsewhere his Gospel says:
He who is least among you all is the one who is great.

To serve and love God, even if it brings us suffering, makes us truly great men and women.
We become signs of God who is love without condition or limit.
God in Christ suffered and died once on the cross.
He remains among us in the form of suffering and death to give life to others.
In the flesh and blood of his Eucharist, God gives himself to us as food and drink.
To feed us and give us life, plants and animals die.
Like plants and animals that die so we may live, God in his Eucharist surrenders himself to us as food and drink.
In the Eucharist, God makes himself small, weak and vulnerable, feeding us with his very self, giving us his greatness, might and immortality.
God without beginning or end, maker of all, chooses to be as the least among us: food and drink.
For us men and for our salvation, he still comes down from heaven.

That God Be Glorified in All


Anonymous bob Farrell said...

I really liked the aspect of today's Gospel reading where the apostles look just as cowardly as I.

When Mark says the apostles were "afraid", do you think it might have been because the last time the same subject came up Jesus tore Peter a new one?

1:32 PM  

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