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.

October 06, 2006

For Friday of the Twenty-Sixth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 10:13-16

The Lord’s Gospel tells us he began his public preaching with this message:
The time is fulfilled.
The kingdom of heaven—
the kingdom of God—
is near.
It is at hand.
Repent and believe in the Gospel!

These few words contain the essential themes of the invitation Christ makes to all of us:
the fulfillment of time;
the insistent presence of God’s kingdom,
the kingdom of heaven;
repentance and faith in the Gospel.

The Lord’s public life and ministry were not restricted to preaching.
His preaching was also accompanied by mysterious and astounding deeds that demonstrated the arrival and the power of God’s kingdom.
He had spiritual authority to cast out demons.
He had physical power to cure diseases.
He was able to give the same authority and power to his disciples.
He made five loaves of bread and two fish increase into enough to feed more than five thousand men.
The kingdom of God, announced by Christ and powerfully present in his own person, calls out to us with promises, signs and acts of power and authority, changing the world by driving out demons, curing diseases and creating abundant food where little was to be had.
However, the Lord has more in mind than changing the world by himself and his own power and authority.
He wants us to participate and cooperate in being ourselves changed.
Repent, repent and believe in the Gospel!

Go and sin no more!

Quite often in his Gospel, the Lord transforms and heals afflicted bodies and persons by saying without any invitation to do so, “Your sins are forgiven.”
In spite of the his earnest message, his demonstrated spiritual authority and his signs of power, his call to repentance from sin went and still goes unheeded.
There is no faith, no hope and no love for Christ and his Gospel where there is no repentance from sin, even among us who call ourselves Christians.
If we do not turn away from sin, then we turn away from the kingdom of God.
Today in his Gospel the Lord dramatically declares that if we turn away from the kingdom of God, we will go to the netherworld, the kingdom of death.
What proof does the Lord offer that this shall indeed happen?
Not much!
In fact, his own destiny appears to have contradicted him.
He suffered a criminal’s death, and we affirm in our faith that he even descended into the depths, into the netherworld.
In the mystery of the Lord’s crucifixion, we hear words that horrify us with an intimation that even before his actual death, the Lord took to himself the suffering of those in the netherworld.
My God!
Why have you abandoned me?

But, what of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead?
Is it a proof that the kingdom of God awaits those who believe?
It is a proof only if it is met by our faith.
Faith is the proof itself.
Repent and believe in the Gospel!

If we do not believe the testimony of the Scriptures and the Gospel, then we will not believe even if Christ risen from the dead should appear before us.
There are many, even among those who call themselves Christians, who dismiss the resurrection of Christ as a mere apparition, a pious fiction or even a lie.
Unfortunately, together with the dismissal of the resurrection must go the dismissal of much of the Gospel and the testimony of the apostles in the New Testament.
Here the circle is complete.
If we reject the simple testimony of the apostles present in the Church’s Scriptures and Gospels, then we reject the testimony of Christ himself.
If we reject Christ, we reject God and the kingdom of God.
With that, the Lord in his Gospel tells us today, we “will go down to the netherworld.”
The Eucharist and the Forgiveness of Sins remain as two of the mighty works that Christ continues in our midst in his Church.
They are signs inviting us to repentance and to faith.
They are signs that promise and fulfill for us the kingdom of God.
What proof do they offer for this claim?
Thomas the apostle got to stick his own fingers into the hellish wounds of the Living Resurrected Proof in Person.
But conviction prompted by physical proof counts for little in the eyes of the Lord.
The Risen Lord chided Thomas.
Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet believe.

Here and now in the Eucharist, the Lord continues to provide wondrous signs.
Even in the Eucharist he reserves special blessing for those whose faith demands no proofs.
Repent and believe!

That God Be Glorified in All


Blogger Murray Stanley said...

Thank you for the clarity of your words and expression. I will endeavour to read your blog each day.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

For help in "trying to understand the mysteries of Roman Catholicism" the following is quite useful.


8:49 AM  
Blogger DimBulb said...

It's interesting to note that in the Greek text of St Mark's Gospel the inaugural words of Our Lord focus on the verbs used:

'FULFILLED is the time;
AT HAND is the kingdom of God;
REPENT AND BELIEVE the good news.'

This end-time emphasis on the kingdom's approach (FULFILLED, AT HAND) Leads to the necessity of repentance and faith.

This in turn leads to the formation of the Church as disciples (follow me) and as proclaimers (fishers of men).

Just as the Baptist formed disciples in view of the first coming of the King and the dawning of the Kingdom, so too, the Church forms disciples and prepairs for the second coming of the King and the fulness of his Kingdom. This is very Baptist-like, to the extent that those who mission in the Church are called upon to share the Baptist's fate (see Mark 6:6b-33, note the fact that the fate of the Baptist is sandwiched between the beginning and end of the apostles mission).

This passage begins Mark's "eucharistic catechisis" (6:6b-8:21). In this part of his gospel we find to feedings with multiplied bread. In fact, in this section of the gospel the word bread appears over a dozen and a half times (often obscured in english translation) but never again until the last supper.

Mark's eucharistic catechisis is immediately followed by a section of the gospel which focuses on Jesus suffering (the three passion predictions 8:22-10:52). You don't have to be a Catholic genius to see the connection.

But there is more. This last mentioned section begins with the question "who is jesus" (8:22-26), a very eucharistic question. Furthermore, all the passion predictions are followed by teachings on discipleship. The last prediction, or rather, the discipleship teaching which follows it, brings in the eucharistic theme of the cup. "Can you drink the cup I am to drink?" (10:38) Like the bread, the cup will not be mentioned again until the last supper.

So, the eucharistic catechisis begins with the death of the Baptist, whose head was served up on a platter at a banquet (a gruesome eucharistic parody?), and the passion predictions end with a call to drink the cup. For this reason I see Jesus' words at the first mutiplication as very meaningful: "You yourselves give them something to eat" (see 6:34-44). "Give the people your body and blood; your very lives as I will, and as the Baptist did."

We as Catholics have lost the connection between eucharist and suffering. Mass has become a torture to us and we now need to be entertained. Nero is in the Church, giving us a circus liturgy with the bread. We tolerate new Herod the greats who make a pretense about worshipping the king and then proceed to murder the holy innocents. We no longer crucify ourselves in the sacrament of penance. Like the unrepentant theif we ignore our own sins and mock the Christ. We have forgotten that the banquet of the Kingdom is for those who have stood by Jesus in his trials (Luke 22:28-30).

7:33 PM  

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