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.

June 10, 2006

For the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Matthew 28:16-20

God is Love.
Those words— GOD IS LOVE— those words cannot be absolutely true if God is not three persons.
How is that?
Love is a relationship.
If God is just one person, then where is the relationship?
We might try to say, “God loves us; so, God is love.”
However, if God is not able to be love without US … that’s no GOD at all.
God is Love … a relationship … between at least two persons … two persons in God.
However, that is not enough.
The Bible names THREE persons in God.
God is Love in THREE persons.
Why not just two persons who love each other?
Why is Almighty, Eternal, Living Love THREE persons?
Let’s consider the words the Bible gives us: Father, Son, Spirit.

The Trinity in Itself

A “father” is someone who gives his very self as a fountain of life.
In the LIFE of God— in God’s own LIFE— there is a person who is the FATHER, someone who GIVES, someone whose GIVING is so total, so absolute that it is alive: the SON.
The Gospels show that, when it comes to the heavenly Father, the personality of Jesus is total gratitude, absolute gratitude to the Father.
To speak of “God the Son” is to say that GRATITUDE for the Father’s self giving— GRATITUDE in God— is also an absolute, a living person: THE SON— Gratitude in Person.
The Father and the Son— the GIVER and the THANKSGIVER— the Father and the Son live for each other.
However, their embrace, their love for each other is not closed in on itself.
Their shared giving is absolutely open-ended.
Both of them give.
None of them needs or takes anything back.
Their communion of surrender for each other is a living absolute: THE SPIRIT.
If there is not a Trinity— if there is not God the Father and Son and Holy Spirit— then there can be no one and nothing worth recognizing as God, for such a one could not be absolute in anything.
Not absolute in SELF-GIVING.
Not absolute in THANKSGIVING.
Not absolute in the COMMUNION of giving and gratitude.
The truth is that God is Father and Son and Spirit.
The Father: absolute self-giving.
The Son: absolute thanksgiving.
The Spirit: absolute communion of self-giving and thanksgiving.
This is the truth of the living God, absolute love BEFORE and WITHOUT the created universe.
God is Love— before and without the created universe … before and without us.
God is Love.

The Trinity for Us Men and for Our Salvation

We are baptized into the Trinity, baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The saving Trinity is what the Son of God was born on earth to reveal and make present in the Flesh and Blood of our humanity.
The Trinity is the saving truth that Christ lived.
It is the saving truth in which he suffered and died.
The saving truth in which he rose from the dead.
The Father and Son and Spirit are revealed, present and at work in the Flesh and Blood of our humanity, for us men and for our salvation— and for the glory of God.
The man born in a stable and risen from the dead in a garden is the Way of God, the Truth of God and the Life of God in human Flesh and Blood.
He is the Flesh and Blood of the heavenly Father’s self-giving love for his children.
Christ is gratitude to the Father, gratitude in Flesh and Blood.
Christ is Flesh and Blood communion with the Father in one Spirit.
We call this Flesh and Blood “Eucharist”, a Greek word meaning “thankfulness, gratefulness, gratitude.”
The Son of God is “Eucharist”— “gratefulness” in person, eternal gratefulness to the Father.
We also call this Flesh and Blood “Holy Communion,” because the Father and the Son are TOGETHER, bringing us into their COMMUNION of one Spirit of Life and Thanksgiving.
We now celebrate this Flesh and Blood in which we receive our salvation.


That God Be Glorified in All

June 09, 2006

For Saturday of the Ninth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Mark 12:38-44

Today in his Gospel, the Lord goes so far as to speak of “very severe condemnation” for the scribes— lawyers of religion— who show off their lengthy prayers and clothes, seeking public recognition, honor, respect and prestige, all the while making a dishonorable profit from the misfortunes of impoverished widows.
Then, as he sits down inside the Temple compound, where he can see the collection box, he notices the large sums of money the wealthy are leaving in the collection.
These wealthy persons are giving out of their surplus.
The Lord does not call that a bad thing.
It is good to put one’s material surplus at the service of a good cause.
But then the Lord notices and calls to our attention a poor widow who has dropped in just two small copper coins.
Hers is a materially small and materially insignificant contribution.
I believe you can’t buy anything today for two copper pennies.
In the Lord’s day, perhaps two pennies could buy enough to keep starvation away for just one more day.
In any case, the poor widow’s pennies win the Lord’s admiration.
He proclaims simply that “she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole LIVELIHOOD.”
Her whole LIFE!
She is a heroine in the eyes of our Lord.
Surely she is with him this day in Paradise where she is still “giving it her all,” still putting in everything she has and is, her whole life, in God’s holy dwelling place.
Whose good does it serve for her and all the saints to spend themselves in heaven?
It serves God’s glory and participates in the Lord’s work of salvation— our salvation.
After all, the saints in heaven and we on earth are his Body, the instruments, the means, the place of his work among men.
Here in the Blessed Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, we receive the Son of God who has himself received everything that the Father has.
Here under the mere appearances of a bread-wafer and a sip of wine— PERHAPS TWO CENTS’ WORTH— under these skimpy and mere appearances the eternal Father donates EVERYTHING: his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased.
It is not out of poverty that God gives to us.
Rather, in the Son, God in all fullness lives.
Once he died, but is risen and remains— glorified— even in the present poverty of our human life and death.
He, in his risen body, is himself the promise, the beginning and the real presence of our future glory.
St. Paul tells the Colossians:
In him the whole fullness of deity dwells BODILY,
and you have come to fullness of life in him.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 08, 2006

For Friday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 12:35-37

Today in his Gospel, Christ does not deny that the Messiah should be a descendant of King David.
However, he suggests that descent from King David has less importance, because King David himself calls the Messiah by a title that belongs to God.
The LORD (God) says to my LORD.

The Lord Messiah is far greater than King David.
That is an echo of Christ elsewhere implying himself to be “greater than Solomon” who was king after David.
The Messiah is to be called “Lord”, and will be superior to Israel’s greatest king.
That was good news for those listening to our Lord Jesus.
Israel’s Messiah is to be greater than their greatest king and is to be called “Lord.”
For an Israelite that is good news, and the Gospel today tells us the crowd was delighted to hear it.
The Messiah being great Lord over even his own ancestors is a parallel of sorts to the Eucharist.
Wheat and grapes are born from the earth, the sun and the rain.
Human knowledge, human culture, and human hands take these fruits of nature and work on them to change them into new things: bread and wine.
Bread and wine are descendants, as it were, of both the natural earth and the knowing spirit in man.
But then in the Eucharist, the underlying realities of the bread and wine come to an end.
The bread and wine give way to the real body and blood of their LORD— the Lord of nature and of man.
Blessed is he who comes in the name AND WITH THE NAME of LORD.
Rightly do we say, “Hosanna to the Son of David, the king of Israel!”
Hosanna in the highest!

That God Be Glorified in All

June 07, 2006

For Thursday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 12:28-34

We have just witnessed a brief, remarkable conversation between two masters: one, our Master Christ, and the other a scribe, a master of Jewish religious law.
At the end of their conversation the Lord simply says, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
That Jewish scribe, a master of religious law, and Christ our Master must have parted as friends.
As for us, Christ our Lord, our Master and Teacher, puts the command to love God and neighbor in our lives as believers above any merely external worship of God.
Christ obeyed his own love for the Father and for us by means of his own sacrificial death on the cross and by means of his Eucharist.
In his death on the cross and in his Eucharist, Christ’s living love AND his sacrificial worship absolutely coincide.
With this extreme loving self-sacrifice, his love for the Father and for us takes on an actual intensity that was unthinkable and impossible in the sacrifices of Israel’s ancient religion.
Here in the Eucharist, Christ in his sacrificial death is present— present in that sacrifice by which he gives loving worship to the Father— that sacrifice by which he brings loving salvation to us.
Here in the sacrament of the Eucharist, we have the absolute beginning and foundation of love for God and neighbor.
The Second Vatican Council’s document on the liturgy [SC 10] puts it this way.
The liturgy is the SUMMIT toward which the activity of the Church is directed;
it is also the FOUNTAIN from which all her power flows.
For the goal of apostolic endeavor
is that all who are made children of God by faith and baptism
should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church,
to take part in the SACRIFICE
and to EAT the Lord’s Supper.

Here in Christ’s Eucharist we have the absolute fulfillment, goal, summit or high point, as well as the absolute foundation, beginning, fountain or source of love for God and neighbor.
Between the beginning and the fulfilling of love, there are many steps and points to work out in our daily living.
Still, we can never do better than to begin and end here with the Eucharist, the fountain and the peak of love and worship, the sacrament of Christ’s absolute love and of Christ’s absolute sacrificial worship.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 04, 2006

For Wednesday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 12:18-27

“God is not a God of the dead”— and because of this, our Lord can simply brush aside the silly question about a woman married and widowed seven times.
Certainly the resurrection from the dead will be a bodily resurrection.
Those who will rise from the dead shall never die again, and shall forever enjoy perfect completion and fulfillment, so that marriage and the bearing of children shall no longer be necessary.
In rising from the dead into the life of God we will be changed.
We shall have a completely different kind of fertility and fruitfulness.
Now in our present condition, physical fertility and the conceiving and bearing of children are also and already spiritual realities, spiritual events.
Our physical fertility and fruitfulness participate in and reveal God the life-giving Creator Spirit.
The fertility and fruitfulness of our bodies are real aspects of our being images and reflections of God the Creator of Life.
Yet, when we shall rise from the dead, marriage and the bearing of children shall be transcended.
God himself who is perfect and without end— God himself will receive and enter and fulfill everything that is in us.
He will receive and fulfill everything that we are.
Perfect, endless and happy fulfillment has been given to us as a seed at baptism.
We don’t fully see it; we don’t fully experience it— not until the resurrection.
Yet, it has really been given to us and is guaranteed by God’s promise in Baptism.
All who receive and obey the mission of celibacy in the Church are ambassadors and prophets who, by means of celibacy, testify to the Church’s faith in the resurrection— a faith pointing toward a reality that has already begun to be present in our lives and whose fulfillment is guaranteed by God himself.
The promise, the presence and the reality of the resurrection were given us at Baptism.
The same is given us at each offering and receiving of the Lord in his Eucharist.
In the Eucharist, God gives, plants and fulfills his promise, his presence and his reality in us.
In receiving the Eucharist, we likewise must give, plant and promise our lives for God.

That God Be Glorified in All

For Tuesday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 12:13-17

We meet the Herodians in the Gospel only today and one other time.
The Pharisees hated the Herodians for both patriotic and religious reasons.
Nonetheless, today the Pharisees stoop to team up with the Herodians because they hate Jesus even more.
The Herodians were King Herod’s political supporters.
The Romans— invaders and pagan idolaters— appointed the family of King Herod to rule over the territory of Galilee.
The Herodian political faction wanted and supported the international protection of Roman domination, though they would have preferred that the Romans allow Herod to govern all of Israel, instead of Galilee only.
The Pharisees, of course, preferred nothing to do with the Romans.
These two enemies, the Roman-friendly Herodians and the Roman-hating Pharisees, team up to trap Jesus between them.
They construct their greeting and their question carefully.
First they flatter, but with an outright lie.
They tell Jesus something they don’t really believe: that he teaches “the way of God in accordance with the truth.”
Then their carefully constructed question.
“Is it LAWFUL or not…?”
That’s the PHARISEE half of the question.
“Is it LAWFUL or not…?”
Does GOD’S LAW permit or not?
Then comes the HERODIAN half of the question.
Is it lawful or not TO PAY THE CENSUS TAX TO CAESAR?
If Jesus says that God’s law permits the paying of taxes to Caesar who claims to be a god, then the PHARISEES will drag him off to the Jewish religious authorities.
If he says it is against the laws of God to pay Caesar’s tax, then the HERODIANS will drag him off for inciting rebellion against the Romans.
That’s the trap.
It is the genius of Jesus to ask to see the coin, the denarius, that is the required payment for the tax.
Minted by Caesar’s government, the denarius bears Caesar’s face and title.
Jesus says to the Herodians and the Pharisees:
Give back to Caesar the face, the title and the coin that belong to Caesar—
and to God what belongs to God.

The Herodians and the Pharisees came as dishonest, temporary allies for the purpose of destroying Jesus.
Instead, he escapes their trap, destroys their alliance, and leaves the Herodians and the Pharisees trapped against each other by their own question.
So the last line of the Gospel today says it well, “They were utterly amazed at him.”
We know the denarius that bears the image and inscription of Caesar denarius is, but what belongs to God?
Today Jesus says, “Repay to God what belongs to God.”
WHAT bears the inscription and image of GOD?
The book of Genesis [1:26,27] tells us.
God said,
“Let us make man in our IMAGE,
after our likeness.”

So God created man in his own IMAGE.
In the IMAGE of God he created him.

“Repay to God what belongs to God.”
We belong to God.
In Baptism, God renews his image and likeness in us.
By anointing us with the Chrism of confirmation, God inscribes us with his Spirit.
In the Eucharist, God himself hands over the tax for sin, nailing himself to a cross Caesar’s government crafted.
The Eucharist that God gives us to eat and drink does not bear merely the image and inscription of God.
The Eucharist is God himself.
The Eucharist is the Son of God perfectly and totally paying himself back to the Father in our image and likeness— because we are unable to do it ourselves.
The Pharisees and Herodians were left UTTERLY AMAZED at him.
Are we?

That God Be Glorified in All

For Monday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 12:1-12

A day or so before our Lord spoke this parable, he was outside the gates of Jerusalem.
He stopped to inspect a fig tree, looking for fruit.
Finding none, he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”
The fig tree dried up from top to root.
The Lord expected fruit from that tree.
Since it gave none, he took away its vigor.
By condemning a fruitless fig tree, he set the stage for what he announces in the Gospel today.
Speaking to the religious and social heads of Israel’s family tree, he tells them in a parable that the owner of the vineyard will give the vineyard to others.
No longer will the kingdom of the true God draw its membership exclusively from the family tree of Abraham.
This is a sharp turn in world history.
It does NOT mean the Jews are shut out from the kingdom of God.
It is simply that race no longer automatically includes or excludes anyone from citizenship in the kingdom of God.
What, then, makes one a member of the kingdom of God?
First: the kingdom of God will be given to those who produce the fruits of the kingdom of God.
Second: to bear the fruit of the kingdom of God is to welcome the Son of God— to welcome him as master, keeper and cornerstone of the House of God.
To welcome him is also to be welcomed by him into his Father’s House.
It is to have him save us from sin and eternal loss.
To bear fruit for him is to follow and imitate him in glorifying the Father and in doing good.
To be saved, we must have FAITH in CHRIST, we must WELCOME him, AND we must BEAR FRUIT for him.
It is not enough simply to welcome Christ as Lord in our lives..
He teaches us that we MUST also BEAR FRUIT.
To call him “Lord,” but do nothing for him, is to be like that fig tree that extended its leaves in welcome, but offered none of the fruit he expected.
We might as well collapse and dry up.
If we presume on our title as baptized children of God, but do not produce the fruits of our Father’s kingdom, then we turn ourselves out of the kingdom of heaven.
Sin is both the doing of evil and the failure to do good.
Sin— together with the complexities of life that lead us into sin— the burden of all sin has been shouldered by Christ, the Lamb of God who bears away the sins of the world.
Freely taking on the deadly sterility of our guilt, he became the barren fig tree.
He withered in thirst and collapsed in death on a cross.
In that choice he changed the course of history.
Now in his Eucharist, he gives us the abundant fruit of his own life offered and raised up for the glory of the Father and the good of the world.
Let us do the same with our lives.

That God Be Glorified in All