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.

March 25, 2006

For the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Luke 1:26-38

Two concerns consumed the mind and heart of Christ on earth.
These were worship and salvation.
Worship: “Glory to God in the highest!”
Salvation: “Peace on earth to men on whom his favor rests!”
The angel-song at his birth is his life-song, his mission.
Christ is perfect worship of the Father.
Christ is perfect salvation of mankind.
His perfect worship of the Father and his perfect salvation of mankind continue on earth through the power of the Spirit and the free collaboration of men and women.
We might ask, “How did this begin?”— just as the Blessed Virgin asks the angel today, “How shall this come to be?”
The angel tells both how it came to be and how it continues to come to be in the lives of all mankind.

The Holy Spirit,
the Power of the Most High,
will come upon you
and overshadow you.

In the presence of God’s angel, Mary stood in Nazareth as the representative of all human flesh and all human nature.
She stood in Nazareth as the representative of our whole race and our whole history.
She stood for us under the shadow and power of the Spirit of God Most High.
By the power of the Holy Spirit and the collaboration of human consent, she conceived God the Son of the Heavenly Father.
This is the pattern for the workings of grace throughout history and throughout our lives: collaboration between the power of God and the free consent of human beings.
The power of God and the cooperation of human free will— these two always work together in all sincere worship.
These two always work together to bring us to salvation.
Christ in flesh and blood is God the Eternal Son.
He is also the flesh and blood of Mary’s “yes”.
He is the incarnation of the human race’s “yes” to God.
By human birth and by his own intention, he was already the salvation of our race.
He was already the perfect worship of the Father.
His death was his final fulfillment of offering up everything that he is as man for the glory of the Eternal Father, for us and for our salvation.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word was made flesh and blood.
On Good Friday, by the power of the Eternal Spirit, [cf. Heb. 9:14] the Word offered flesh and blood in an all-powerful, saving sacrifice of worship.
In him our nature and our bodies have come to new birth.
In him our sin has died.
In him our nature and our bodies have risen and ascended to the Father in heaven.
In him the power of the Spirit overshadows us as the new sons and daughters of God.
Let all this come to be in us according to the Word of the Lord.
Yet, God’s Word waits for our word.
The Body of Christ.
The Blood of Christ.
Amen, Lord, we choose to be your servants.
You have served us unto death.
Let us serve you unto— into— Life.
Let him who is mighty do great things in us.
Let us let him.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 24, 2006

For Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Mark 12:28-34
Hosea 14:2-10

Today through the prophet Hosea the Lord offers us a poem about the goodness and blessings he gives us.
God likens his loving graciousness to the dew, a blossoming lily and a deep-rooted tree greening with fresh shoots.
God’s blessings are like the splendor of the olive tree, the fragrance of the Lebanon cedar, cooling shade, a harvest of grain, a vine in flower, a renowned and choice wine.
The goodness of God in freely offering us life, growth, forgiveness, salvation, holiness, adoption and eternal life— the goodness of God towards us inspires us to love him in return.
St. Bernard points out that the first degree of love is to love God for his goodness to us.
Such love is just and justified, even though it is self-centered— loving God for our own sake, loving God because he is first good to us.
St. Bernard says the second degree of love is to love my neighbor because God loves my neighbor and helps me to love my neighbor— whether or not my neighbor is good to me.
With that, I begin to be free of my self-centeredness.
St. Bernard sees the third degree as loving God for God’s own sake.
At this third level we leave behind selfishness in our love of God.
This third degree of love is faithful to God in poverty, injury, suffering and death.
We would love God for his own sake.
In the fourth and final degree of love my self-centeredness is turned completely inside out.
Now, I would not love even myself except for the sake of God.
Not for my possessions, abilities, achievements and status, but for God’s sake alone.
Such love would free me from self-centered striving, since I would have embraced God’s love as infinitely more than enough for me.
Now, even my love for myself would be free of myself and full of God alone.
Now I would be able fully to hear and live the command to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength.
Love that is free of self-centeredness— that kind of love is worthy of the Word of God that says, “God Is Love.”
Now in the Eucharist, we approach love himself in his flesh offered up and his blood poured out for sinners.
Here we eat and drink from the heart of Jesus the Son of God.
We eat and drink the soul of Christ and the mind of God and the strength of God.
God is love, and love sacrifices itself.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 23, 2006

For Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Luke 11:14-23

This Gospel teaches us it is necessary to oppose evil spirits explicitly and to take the side of Jesus explicitly.
To oppose Jesus is to oppose God and be on the side of Satan.
God respects our freedom; the devil does not.
The Good News in the midst of all this is that Christ is God, and is stronger than all the evil in the world.
Though he who is Love Incarnate suffered and died for the sins of the world, nonetheless Love is stronger than death.
He rose from the dead, and out of his risen flesh he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostolic Church.
In baptism and all the sacraments, Christ and the Holy Spirit forever mark us for the Father.
God recognizes in us the presence and power of his Word and his Spirit.
We ourselves must testify to this with our lives and all our choices, or else we make of ourselves mere empty houses liable to invasion.
Today and always, let the Lord in his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood be our dwelling, and let us ourselves always be dwellings for him.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 22, 2006

For Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Matthew 5:17-19

Today in his Gospel, Christ who is the Word of God tells us he has not come to get rid of the law of the Old Testament or the teachings of the Old Testament prophets.
He tells us he has come to FULFILL the laws and teachings of the Old Testament.
The word he chooses in the Gospel means to give or bring FULLNESS.
He says he has come to FULFILL, to give or bring FULLNESS to every dash and dot of every letter of the laws and teachings of God in the Old Testament.
After saying that, Christ right away begins to list a few commandments, although our reading today stops just before that.
Christ right away begins to quote six commandments.
To each commandment he adds new actions and new qualities making the commandment more full—but also more difficult to obey.
Finally, he ends up saying,


As if the Old Testament were not demanding enough, Christ adds to it.

Enter by the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide
and the way is easy that leads to destruction,
and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow
and the way is hard that leads to life,
and those who find it are few. [Mt. 7:13 14]

Keeping the dots, dashes and the fullness of the law and the prophecies is just the beginning of the narrow and hard way to eternal life.
The season of Lent is our concrete yearly reminder of the narrow and hard way of perfection and fullness that Christ teaches but that he also IS.
Christ teaches—and IS—the narrow and hard way of perfection and fullness.
This sounds PURITANICAL.
It does not feel like good news.
Nonetheless, Christ himself proves the real goodness, beauty, truth and joy to be found at the end of this way that he calls narrow and hard, the way of being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
By choosing to be in communion with the human race all the way to self-sacrifice, Christ brings absolute fullness and fulfillment to the ancient laws and teachings of God.
By communion with God and our neighbors even unto self-sacrifice we rise on the narrow road of holiness that both fulfills the letter of God’s laws and surpasses mere legalism.
In his Cross, in his Resurrection and in his Eucharist, Christ himself obeys and fulfills every dot and dash of the law.
God exceeds himself by pouring out his fullness and his Spirit, spending his body and shedding his blood to fulfill in himself his own law.
The law given and personally fulfilled by Christ in the Eucharist is written not on stone tablets, but in the Spirit, life, human flesh and blood, freedom and obedience of Christ.
He died offering himself for the sins of the world.
He rose from the dead, keeping and glorifying his communion with the human race.
He rose from the dead keeping and glorifying our race in communion with God.
He rose from the dead taking our race into the communion, Spirit and heart of God in heaven.
The Eucharist—in which God and the human race together in Christ are broken, poured out and eaten up—the Eucharist is the sign and place and presence of God’s exceeding wealth, glory, truth and freedom embracing, saving and dignifying our human lot.
What Christ commands of us in his Gospel he himself gives and fulfills in his Eucharist.
It is entirely ours to choose and live.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 21, 2006

For Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Matthew 18:21-35

In the original language of the Gospel, the first servant owes the king ten thousand talents.
That was an amount of money equivalent to the salary for ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND YEARS.
That servant begged and promised to pay back everything.
The king simply canceled the whole debt.
However, that servant turned and jailed a co-worker who owed him the equivalent of only one hundred days of wages.
The king finds out.
He captures the first servant and sends him to be tortured and imprisoned.
The Lord Jesus ends the parable in a terrifying manner.

So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you,
if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

Our Lord simply ends the parable today with that threat.
However, the living parable of Christ himself goes on in all its reality, all its effects and all its power whenever we celebrate, offer and receive the Eucharist.
In his Eucharist, our Lord is the king, and you and I owe an eternity worth of debt for our souls.
On top of that, we have sinned.
Though we are the debtors, we are not sold into slavery.
Rather, the king himself, the king’s son, the Son of God, has been sold into slavery for us and for our debt.
Our debt to him, our guilt, has been laid upon him.
He took it upon himself, even without our having dared to ask this.
Furthermore, in return for the burden of our guilt, he himself laid his own divinity and innocence upon us.
He, our King and God, accepted to be tortured for the sake of our debt.
This wonderful exchange of humanity for divinity, and divinity for humanity, this exchange of his innocence for our guilt, this exchange of our enslavement for his divine sonship—all this—is again present for us, renewed in us and strengthened in us each time we celebrate, offer and receive the Eucharist.
When we declare our guilt, we ask to be eligible for Christ’s innocence.
For such an exchange, we now have an even greater debt of thanksgiving, praise, honor, glory and worship.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 20, 2006

For the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

The Virgin Mary’s pregnancy is clear.
Joseph knows, but says nothing to Mary and asks her nothing.
He simply and silently decides to quietly call off the wedding.
At that point of decision, an angel of the Lord breaks in upon Joseph’s silence and his sleep.

Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home,
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son . . . .

Then the angel commands Joseph to break his silence.

YOU are to name him Jesus
[which means “God is salvation”],
because he will save his people from their sins.

As the husband of Mary, Joseph will obey the word of God, and serve legally as the father of Mary’s son.
Thus, it would fall to Joseph to make the public, legal designation of the child’s name.

His name will be Jesus [which means, “God is salvation”].

The Gospel does not tell us of any other words Joseph ever spoke.
We may nonetheless be sure that he publicly declared aloud, “His name will be Jesus.”
With that one short phrase, Joseph was the first human being to sum up the Gospel.

His name will be Jesus [which means, “God is salvation”].

Joseph is the first man to announce the good news in Israel: THIS CHILD IS OUR SAVING GOD.
We worship the God Man in his flesh and blood.
Jesus is our saving God in his Eucharistic flesh and blood, swelling the world with salvation, just as once he swelled the womb of the Virgin Mary in the watchful care of St. Joseph.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 19, 2006

For the Scrutiny of the Catechumens on the Third Sunday of Lent

John 4:5-42

The Samaritan woman who finds Jesus at Jacob’s well is a sinner.
Without hearing a word of confession from her mouth, Jesus already knows her whole story.
First he makes the claim that if she drinks the water he will give she will never again thirst, for it will become a fountain inside her, leaping up to provide eternal life.
Then she begins to expose her vulnerability.

Give me this water, sir,
so that I won’t ever again be VULNERABLE to thirst,
and have to continue to DEPEND on hauling water up from this well.

Now Jesus goes in for the kill.
He tells her, “Go, call your husband, and then come back here.”
The woman answers, “I have no husband.”
Now Jesus exposes her whole life of sin.

You do well to say you have no husband.
You’ve had five,
and the man you are living with now is not your husband.

Once the woman is exposed as a sinner, she does not raise her defenses.
Instead, she further exposes her vulnerability through an honest admission that Jesus knows the truth.
Then we see the well of eternal life already beginning to rise up in her faith.
First she calls Jesus a prophet, a man of God.
Then she calls him the Messiah.
Next she tells the people of her town.
Finally, they themselves confess that Jesus is “Savior of the world.”
Through penance we do not wait for Jesus to wave our dirty laundry in the air.
Through penance in attitude, word or deed, we expose ourselves to him, and freely ask for living water.

That God Be Glorified in All

For the Third Sunday of Lent

John 2:13-25

Today in the crowded Temple, Christ acts with violence.
Charging into the temple as its owner, he takes a whip to drive out the merchants, the money-changers and the livestock.
He throws the money to the ground and topples the cashier tables.
Then he openly proclaims his own lordship over the temple by declaring it to be the house of “MY Father”.

Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!

The people ask him for a sign, a miracle, to back up his actions and claims.
He answers them.
Without explaining that he is now speaking of his own body, he again proclaims himself “Lord” by telling them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
Death on the first day, and resurrection on the third.
After the Lord rose from the dead, the pattern of today’s Gospel, the pattern of the Lord’s behavior and claims today, and the pattern of his death and resurrection are repeated in the early history of his followers.
After the Lord ascends into the invisible glory of heaven, his body on earth, the Church simultaneously grows and suffers destruction in Roman imperial persecution.
Three days—or, rather, three centuries later—the Lord purges Rome of pagan worship, raises up his body the Church, and brings the emperor himself to the worship of Christ, the Father and the Spirit.
In the year of our Lord 313, the Roman emperor Constantine decreed freedom for the Christian faith.
Under Constantine, Christianity began to replace the worship of Roman idols.
Christ, his Father and the Holy Spirit now claimed all worship in the former imperial audience halls where the emperor himself used to be worshipped as a god.
The Gospel of Christ now rang out in Rome—even today’s very Gospel—with Christ declaring his lordship over the empire of Rome, too: “MY Father’s house.”
The Church is the House of Our Father.
Through Baptism, God the Father has received us into his house, his Church, as his sons and daughters.
Together with Christ, each of us may lay claim to the Church as “MY Father’s house.”
Today in his Gospel, Christ teaches us that the Church is also his Body.
His own Immortal Flesh already embraces our own mortal bodies.
His own Healing Blood is already married to our wounded nature.
Christ the Son of God claims each of us and all together as his own Body.
Zeal for us consumes the Son of God, and he fights to drive from us, as from his own body, the disease and commerce of sin.
The Church is also the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Each one of us in the Church is also a temple of the Holy Spirit.
The FATHER sends the SPIRIT of his SON into our hearts.
From within our hearts, the SPIRIT sends up the SON’S cry of “ABBA! FATHER!” into the heart of the FATHER. [Cf. Gal. 4:6.]
This is what Saint Paul says [Cf. 1 Cor. 3:16-17].

you are the temple of God . . .
the Spirit of God dwells in you . . .
the temple of God,
which you are,
is holy

In his own Flesh and Blood, the Son of God wants to charge into each of our hearts as into his own holy temple.
May his loving zeal for the Father’s house consume us, and may our own repentance and faith work with him to drive the commerce of sin from our lives.

That God Be Glorified in All