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.

April 08, 2006

For Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Mark 14-15

Today in his Gospel our Lord has us witness again his suffering and death on the cross.
So, this whole past week at daily Mass, the prayer called the “preface” has made special mention of the suffering and death of Christ on the cross.
Father … we do well … to give you thanks.
The suffering and death of your Son
brought life to the whole world,
moving our hearts to praise your glory.
The power of the cross reveals your judgment on this world
and the kingship of Christ crucified.

In that prayer, we thank the Father that the suffering and death of Christ bring life to the world, and show God’s glory and the kingship of Christ.
However, suffering and death challenge and oppose life.
So, it is a paradox to speak of glory, majesty and kingship coming from suffering and death.
Furthermore, our faith and our prayer acclaim the suffering and death of one who is GOD.
God’s suffering and death on the cross go far beyond all other paradoxes.
How may we find life, glory, majesty and kingship on the cross, and how may we have that glory, majesty and kingship in our own lives where we suffer and die?
We must pay attention to our Lord’s teaching.
If you remain in my word,
you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
every one who commits sin is a slave of sin. [Jn. 8:31,32,34]

Our Lord sets truth and freedom against sin and slavery.
He tells us that truth will make us free.
There is no freedom without the truth.
Without the truth there is sin and slavery.
How is that?
Was Christ free when Pilate handed him over to death, when soldiers pounded nails through his body, and when he sagged from those nails on the cross?
We might give the easy answer, and say that he was going to rise from the dead anyway.
However, that answer ignores the real truth and the real freedom that are revealed and present on the cross itself.
God is love— but Love absolutely free of self-concern.
Love that gives everything away!
Love that does not need anyone to give love back!
God himself began to live as a man two thousand years ago.
So, two thousand years ago human flesh and blood, a human mind and heart, began to be the sign, the place and the event of God’s love giving itself away in person.
Jesus Christ is God.
His suffering and death are the majestic mystery of the infinitely loving God freely giving himself up and giving himself away in person in human flesh and blood.
In this world, you cannot ask more of love than that; and God’s love in this world would not do anything less than that.
The cross already shows and gives to the world God’s Truth, God’s Freedom and God’s Love.
In the flesh and blood of Christ, the world of flesh and blood is set free from slavery, sin, suffering and death by being raised from the dead, swollen with all the majesty, power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit of Truth and Freedom and Love.
The truth is that we human beings are made for happiness and freedom in knowing and loving God, and in loving as God loves.
God wants to swell every fiber of our being, our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength.
He wants to swell every fiber of our being with his Spirit of Truth and Freedom and Love.
He gives us the Spirit of Truth, Freedom and Love in the same flesh and blood that received birth in Bethlehem, death outside Jerusalem and everlasting resurrection in a garden.
That is why he says to us in his Gospel:
If you remain in my word,
you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free. [Jn. 8:31,32]

Scripture tells us:
God our savior … wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and men
… Christ Jesus who gave himself as ransom for all. [1 Tim. 2:4 6]

Now comes our ransom … in person … in real flesh and blood … in the Eucharist.

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THE PREFACE OF THE MASS OF PASSION SUNDAY [The preface "sets the tone" for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.]

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Father, all powerful and everliving God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Though he was sinless,
he suffered willingly for sinners.
Though innocent,
he accepted death to save the guilty.
By his dying he has destroyed our sins.
By his rising he has raised us up to holiness of life.


We praise you, Lord, with all the angels in their song of joy:
Holy, holy, holy ...

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







For Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 11:45-56
Jeremiah 20:1-13

Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.

Here at Mass today, three of the prayers, plus the Old Testament reading and the Gospel all point to the children of God: God’s children from the Jewish nation of Abraham; and God’s children whom he adopts from all the nations of the world through baptism.
Until Christ the Son of God came into the world two thousand years ago, there were only two kinds of religion in the world.
There was the religion of the Jews who recognized the true and only living God.
Then, there were all the religions of those who did not know there is only one, true, living God.
The People of God, his children the Jews, were once slaves to the pagan Egyptians.
To separate his children from the unbelievers, God ordered his children to mark their homes with the blood of a sacrificed lamb.
Those who did not live under the blood of a lamb sacrificed to God lost their firstborn sons to the angel of death.
From then on, the Jews, the children of God, always lived under the bloodstains of a lamb sacrificed to God.
The rest of the world did not.
Christ, a Jew, a descendant of Abraham, also lived under the bloodstains of a lamb sacrificed to God.
However, Christ the only and firstborn Son of God became the new, eternal, sacrificed and eternally risen Lamb of God.
The blood of lambs marked the doors of Jewish homes.
Now the Son of God would spill his own blood at the door of Jerusalem, in the presence of the Jews and their new pagan masters and masters of the world, the Romans.
The blood of a Jew, Christ, now marks the lives of those of any nation who are baptized in his name and in the name of his Father and their Holy Spirit.
Christ himself marked this new way of becoming children of God by calling his self-sacrifice in Jerusalem his own baptism.
We now enter with Christ the holy week of his baptism.
Let us be mindful of his holy sacrifice.
Let us be mindful that we have received his holy and living bloodstains at baptism.
The Son of God lived on earth that the nations of the world might live as children of God.
The Lamb of God offered himself in sacrifice that we might live free in God as his children.
The Son of God is risen forever in flesh and blood that we might live forever in Spirit and Father and Son.

- - - - - - - -

The weekdays of the Fifth Week of Lent have a special "Preface" for the Eucharistic Prayer. The Preface sets the tone. Click HERE to read it.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







April 06, 2006

For Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 10:31-42

Today the Gospel of the Lord begins with his enemies in Jerusalem picking up stones to kill him.
However, the Gospel today ends with a hint of hope and victory.
Christ escapes, leaves Jerusalem, travels east and crosses the Jordan River to a territory where many people put faith in him.
This light of faith in Jesus is the Gospel’s bright ray of hope and song of victory.
It is also a foreshadowing of the resurrection.
When the Lord told his disciples of his eventual death and resurrection, he told them that once he had risen he would go before them into GALILEE— another territory where the people believed in him.
After his resurrection, the Lord repeated to his disciples that they would see him in Galilee, a territory that believed in him.
You and I believe in Jesus.
That is ALMOST enough.
Each one of us is a divided territory: partly believing, partly doubting, partly sinful, but also holy.
We are sinners, but through the sacraments we are also the Flesh-and-Blood Church of Christ, the Children of the Father and the Temples of the Holy Spirit.
The Risen Christ comes to us in the sacraments, in the Eucharist, wanting us to meet him in the territory of faith.
The territory of faith … let us always go there.
Christ is waiting.

- - - - - - - -

The weekdays of the Fifth Week of Lent have a special "Preface" for the Eucharistic Prayer. The Preface sets the tone. Click HERE to read it.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







A kind of "pre-homiletic" study of Calvary and Cana

CANA AND CALVARY
in the Gospel of John
(This is the short version of my lecture.)
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Cana----
The Gospel begins by telling us "the mother of Jesus" was there. Then, as if a merely secondary factor, it gets around to "mentioning" that Jesus was also there ... oh, and also his disciples.
Calvary----
The mother of Jesus was there. Then, mentioned secondarily, the disciple was there.

Cana----
No more wine.
Calvary----
They have no wine--only vinegar, wine gone bad.

Cana----
The mother of Jesus says, "They have no wine"--i.e., they thirst.
Calvary----
Jesus says, "I thirst."

Cana---
They end up with "the good wine"
Calvary---
the bad wine--vinegar

Both Cana and Calvary----
These are the only two times in the Gospel Jesus speaks to her with the title "Woman". The mother of Jesus has no name in the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John begins, "In the beginning" (like the book of Genesis; this is a signal that one is to see the Gospel as the New Genesis. In the book of Genesis, "Woman" also has no name. She gets the name "Eve" AFTER she sins; and THAT is when we hear that she Eve is the "mother of the living." In John, "Woman" has no name at all (i.e., no sin); and even though she has no "sinner's name" she still becomes the "mother of the living": Jesus tells her, "Woman, there is your son" (my disiciple).

Cana----
Woman, what have you to do with me?
Calvary----
Woman, here's what you have to do for me.

Cana----
"Woman, my HOUR has not yet come."
Calvary----
"Father, the HOUR has come."
"From that HOUR, the disciple [at the cross] took her [Woman, mother of Jesus] to his own home."

Cana---
Six stone jars
Calvary---
Sixth day of the week

Cana----
water for the rites of purification
Calvary----
hyssop (which is for purification)

Cana----
Water into wine
Calvary---
Water and blood

Cana----
"This, the FIRST of his signs, Jesus did...."
Calvary----
"IT IS FINISHED"

Cana----
"his disciples BELIEVED in him"
Calvary----
"He who SAW it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth--that you also may BELIEVE."

Genesis 2:8----
"And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed." The very first garden! Brand new!
John 19:41-42----
"Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So ... they laid Jesus there." A Brand New Tomb!

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The mother of Jesus has a role to play from beginning to end.

At Cana she tells those who would be servants of her son, "Do whatever he tells you."

At Calvary she who says "Do whatever he (my Son) tells you" ... she is the one who is to "mother" the disciple by telling him what she said to the servants in Cana. The disciple for his part is to take that Sinless Woman and her message ("Do whatever he (my Son) tells you") into his home and let them live--be alive--there.

At Cana (beginning) and at Calvary (finish), the Sinless Woman's intervention precedes the believer.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







April 05, 2006

For Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:51-59

Today we hear Christ pronounce the words of a binding promise.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word
will never taste death.

The persons who first heard Christ speak these words challenged him, asking, in effect, “Just who do you think you are, claiming as you do that no one who keeps YOUR words shall ever know death?”
Christ answers this question for them in two steps.
The first step in Christ’s answer is this:
I know the Father,
your God.
Yes, I know him well,
and I keep his word.

In the second step in his answer Jesus gives himself the name of God by saying, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
The people recognized this as criminal and vulgar blasphemy spoken at the holy house of God himself.
So, they pick up stones, since the law from God required that a blasphemer be put to death by stoning.
Had you and I been there, we also would have been shocked by Christ’s words, were it not that we have received the gift of faith to see, know and bow down before the meaning of his words.
Christ knows the Father, the God of Abraham.
Christ keeps the word of God, and cannot do otherwise, because he IS the Word of God— the Word of God alive as a man of flesh and blood.
He is God revealing God to us.
Our faith in THIS revelation— our faith in THIS WORD— opens for us the way to never-ending life.
In the Eucharist, God gives his Word— his Promise— in his own Flesh and Blood.
However, he does so expecting us to enter the Promise with him.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever KEEPS my word
will never taste death.

When we say “Amen” to the Eucharist of Christ, we are agreeing to keep his word.

- - - - - - - -

The weekdays of the Fifth Week of Lent have a special "Preface" for the Eucharistic Prayer. The Preface sets the tone. Click HERE to read it.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







April 04, 2006

For Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:31-42

Christ opened his Gospel today with the following declaration.
If you remain in my word,
you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.

“The truth will set you free.”
For men and women of today, these may be among the most difficult words in the Gospel.
Many lack a sense of what authentic freedom is.
Many also doubt the existence of objective and eternal truths.
Without a sense for real truth and real freedom, how can we understand this teaching of Jesus?
If you remain in my word,
you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.

Faith in God opens the way for us to understand this.
We acknowledge that the teaching of Jesus gives us truth itself.
Learning from him and following him gives us freedom.
From our childhood lessons we recall the truth that we are made for happiness through knowing, serving and loving God now and forever.
By way of paradox, this child’s lesson is the way to a very adult freedom.
Without obedience to the truth, all our supposed liberties simply collapse into self-destruction, addictions, slavery and boredom with life itself.
If we live according to the teaching of Christ, we will be free.
We see this freedom in the lives of persons such as Mother Teresa: a freedom to give yourself away to God and neighbor without holding anything back.
Such a witness is both a great challenge and a most attractive beauty.
Perhaps the simultaneously challenging and attractive example of such witnesses is the best and most honest way to teach the truth of today’s Gospel.
We would serve the Lord and the world well if we gave such witness with our own lives.
If we live according to the teaching of Christ, we will be free.
If we live as he lives in his Eucharist, we will be free.
In his Eucharist he gives himself away to the Father and to us without holding anything back.
He is free in every sense of the word.

- - - - - - - -

The weekdays of the Fifth Week of Lent have a special "Preface" for the Eucharistic Prayer. The Preface sets the tone. Click HERE to read it.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







April 03, 2006

Preface for the Weekday Masses of the Fifth Week of Lent

The preface "sets the tone" for the Liturgy of the Eucharist all this week. Click HERE to read it.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







For Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:21-30
Numbers 21:4-9

Twice today Christ points to himself with words that are the name of God.
You will surely die in your sins
unless you come to believe that I AM.

When you lift up the Son of Man,
you will come to realize that I AM.

The name of God: I AM THE I AM.
When you lift up the Son of Man,
you will come to realize that I AM.

Centuries before, God told Moses to nail an image of a fire-serpent to a wooden shaft.
Sinners whom God had punished with snakebite were to look upon the image and so be healed.
That was a strange foreshadowing of the truth that Christ speaks today in his Gospel.
You will surely die in your sins
unless you come to believe that I AM.

When you lift up the Son of Man,
you will come to realize that I AM.

After Christ was nailed to the shaft of the cross, suffered, died and was buried, then rose in glory, people did come to realize that his eternal name is “I AM THE I AM”.
Christ dead and risen is God Eternal in the Flesh and Blood of Man.
However, we do not need to crane our necks to look past the cross to find the glory of God.
The suffering and death of Christ on the cross are already the fiery sign of the True God come in the in the flesh and blood of our humanity.
As God makes an absolute gift of himself to us by taking personal communion in our own humanity, he does so without measure, border or limit.
His unconditional communion, even communion in death!
Our entire history and our entire nature are lifted up on the cross in Christ so that— almost unspeakably— God in our flesh makes himself the bridegroom of our death.
His unconditional communion, even communion in death!
Now that the border of death has proven null and void to the love of God, our own flesh and blood nature is set free to rise in the person of Christ— rise as bride to unconditional communion in the life of God.
Today in his Gospel he says to us:
You will surely die in your sins
unless you come to believe that I AM.

Today in his Eucharist, the One who calls himself “I AM THE I AM”— that One comes to us in our flesh and blood.
He comes with his perpetual offer of unconditional communion.
We can honestly approach God’s unconditional communion only by disavowing the condition of sin.
You will surely die in your sins
unless you come to believe that I AM.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







April 02, 2006

For Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:1-11

A mob drags into the house of God a woman caught in adultery.
They put her before Christ, and there in the house of GOD they cite the law of GOD regarding those who commit adultery.
If Christ tells them to leave her alone, then he will have discredited himself by contradicting GOD’S law inside GOD’S house.
If instead Christ should dare to play God by pronouncing her sin forgiven, then the mob can stone him to death for speaking blasphemy against GOD inside GOD’S house with GOD as witness.
If however Christ says the woman should be put to death according to God’s law, then the mob can inform the Romans that Christ has incited murder.
So, the mob of scribes and Pharisees has Christ pinned on three points.
Inside GOD’S house, with GOD as witness, Christ must defend, attack or forgive the adulteress.
On any of these points, the mob can defeat or destroy him.
What does Christ do— how does he answer?
In silence, he bends down to write in the dust with his finger.
The mob continues to press the case.
After a bit, Christ stands straight, and— with one sentence— turns their case upside down onto their heads.
Standing upright INSIDE THE HOUSE OF GOD, Christ says:
Let the ONE among you who is WITHOUT SIN
be the first to throw a stone at her.

There inside the house of GOD, the ONE-WITHOUT-SIN is GOD HIMSELF.
Christ is telling them to let GOD be the first to throw a stone at her.
If any man in the mob now would act against this woman— or against Christ— that man would himself be guilty of playing GOD THE SINLESS ONE inside the house of GOD THE SINLESS ONE.
That man would then be guilty of grave blasphemy and deserve to be stoned to death.
Furthermore, the Scriptures of God— in the books of Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Malachi and Daniel— declare that a blasphemer will have his name written INTO THE DIRT— into the dirt instead of written in heaven. (Cf.: Jer. 12:13; Ex. 32:32; Is. 4:3; Mal. 3:16; Dan. 12:1)
As if illustrating this, Christ bends down a SECOND time to write a SECOND time in the dirt.
The mob is forced to slink away defeated— no longer as a mob, but only ONE BY ONE.
Beginning with the elders who know the Scriptures the best, they slink out of the house of God as Christ continues to write in the dirt.
After they are all gone, Christ stands up again and finally speaks to the guilty woman.
Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.

Jesus Christ IS … THE SINLESS ONE.
In the house of God, Christ has full right as God to be the first to throw a stone at this woman.
Instead, he is the last to remain and stand with her in the house of God.
God the sinless Son casts no stone, but says two things to the sinner.
Neither do I condemn you.
From now on, DO NOT SIN ANY MORE.

He does not condemn her, but he condemns sin.
From now on, DO NOT SIN ANY MORE.

This event foreshadows the Cross.
With the Cross and with his own Precious Blood, our Sinless Lord will sign his own sinless, innocent name into the dirt of death, so that our names— the names of sinners— can be written in heaven, written into the home of God himself.
From the Cross, Christ will look up to the Father, and say on behalf of us sinners:
Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.

Here from this altar, we shall receive: the Flesh and the Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
May he have mercy on us!
May he grant us peace!
Let us repent— SIN NO MORE— and believe ever more fully in the Gospel by which God shows us the open door of heaven!

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All