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.

July 01, 2006

For the Thirteenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 5:21-43

In the Gospel, crowds are often a challenge for our Lord.
We have seen him get into a boat in order to avoid being crushed by a crowd on the shore.
We have seen him practically imprisoned in a house by the press of a crowd.
He once cast out an entire crowd of demons that left and drowned a crowd of pigs.
Today he fixes exclusive and intimate attention on two different persons, even though crowds press on all sides.
He works two miracles today: first, the healing of a woman with chronic bleeding; second, the resurrection of a dead child.
The two events overlap, intertwine and coincide at several points.
In the first miracle, he does not see or hear the woman when she is healed.
In the second miracle, the dead girl cannot see or hear Jesus.
To the woman with the bleeding, he says, “Daughter, your FAITH has made you well.”
Not to the dead girl but to her father, he says, “Have FAITH.”
The woman, without being SEEN or HEARD by Christ, secretly touches his clothing; POWER goes out from him, and she is instantly healed.
The dead girl, who can no longer SEE or HEAR, rises from the dead and begins to walk when POWER goes out from Christ as he touches her hand and commands her to rise up.
Finally, even though both miracles take place in the midst of a shoving or noisy crowd, there is preserved at the very moment of each miracle a closed circle of privacy and intimacy.
When the woman is healed in the midst of a crowd, only she and Christ know it.
Then, even though a throng of noisy mourners surrounds and fills the house of the dead girl, Christ takes only her parents and two of his disciples into her room.
In the case of this dead girl, he heightens further the privacy and intimacy by the precise words he chooses, “Little girl, TO YOU I say, rise up!”
Not only do these two miracles overlap, intertwine and coincide with each other.
They also overlap, intertwine and coincide with the signs and wonders Christ continues to work in us through his Gospel, his sacraments and his Church.
Christ’s work in us transcends what can be seen, heard or touched.
Nonetheless, his power does not exclude sight, sound and touch, but makes use of them.
Quite importantly, faith must always be involved.
It may be our own faith, so that Christ says to us, “Daughter! Son! Your faith has made you well.”
It may also be passive, involving not our own faith directly, but the faith of others, to whom Christ says, “Do not fear! Have faith!”
Such is the case today of the girl whom Christ raised from the dead after telling her parents, “Have faith!”
It is the same with the baptism of infants who are reborn into the kingdom of Life through the faith of their parents and godparents who are members of the Church, members of Christ.
Finally, even though our sacramental healings and resurrections may take place in the midst of a great crowd of witnesses, and perhaps even through THEIR faith, not ours, Christ is at work for each of us individually: “To YOU PERSONALLY I say, rise up!”
Christ never told a crowd, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Whenever he spoke those words, it was always to individual persons.
Here in the Eucharist, he arrives to forgive sins, heal the sick, raise the dead and give eternal life.
Let us each pray for every person with us in church today.
It may be that the faith of a stranger in this church today shall be the instrument of your own resurrection and the forgiveness of your sins.
Let us spur our hearts, minds and wills to faith, for Christ in his Eucharist is hidden from our senses.
That he is really present, we know only by faith.
As we receive his Body and Blood, his saving power comes into us.
In his Eucharist he also asks, “Who touched me?”
Like the woman healed today, it would be natural for us to fall down before him in fear and trembling, confessing the whole truth about ourselves.
He says to us in reply, “Your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed.”

That God Be Glorified in All

June 30, 2006

For Saturday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 8:5-11

Here in the Gospel we are witnesses of an encounter between our Lord and a Roman military officer who has come to beg for the healing of his servant who is paralyzed and suffering terribly.
The Lord speaks a prophetic blessing:
I say to you,
many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.

So then, here WE are— you and I from east, west, north and south, here at the banquet of the kingdom of heaven.
Baptism and faith have given us the privilege to eat at the banquet of the kingdom of heaven.
However, we still await the final coming of the kingdom of heaven in the return of Christ our Lord at the end of time.
In the meantime, through the sacraments, the world already gives way to the kingdom of heaven and the return of Christ.
In the sacrament of baptism, we sinners die to Adam our father in sin, and we are born in Christ as sons and daughters of God.
In the Eucharist, the world of bread and wine comes to a real end, so that where once were bread and wine are now the real body and real blood of Christ.
Here at the altar of the Eucharist, we will be in the real presence of the royal banquet of heaven, and Christ our Lord will have already really returned.
Now we only wait for the day when we shall be like him in the glory of the resurrection together with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the saints.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 29, 2006

For Friday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 8:1-4

When Jesus healed someone from bodily suffering, he often stretched out his hands to touch the body of the one who was suffering.
Just as often, he spoke words of healing in the form of a command.
Today in his Gospel, the Lord speaks such words to a leper, commanding him, “Be made clean!”
Such words from the Son of God have a power that goes beyond deliverance from bodily suffering.
Such words from the mouth of God are also the door to salvation from SIN.
Because of this, Jesus often worked healings of the BODY by saying, “your SINS are forgiven you,” or, “your FAITH has saved you.”
In the case of the leper today, Jesus does not openly mention sin.
Instead, after he cures the man, Jesus tells him to go to the priest and present the offering the Law requires for persons cleansed of leprosy.
The Law commanded that two sacrificial offerings be made: one was a sacrifice of thanksgiving, of worship; and the other was a sacrifice to ATONE for SIN.
So we see that in commanding the leper, “Be made clean”, Jesus is not only delivering him from a disease of the body; he is also pronouncing upon him salvation from SIN.
The man was suffering from the double leprosy of SKIN and of SIN.
We see him kneel before Jesus, and say, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Today at this altar, we also kneel before the Lord to ask for healing and salvation.
Today before the Lord at his altar we shall cry out, “Only say the word, Lord, and I will be healed!”
Then he will reach for us in his Blessed Sacrament to touch us with his Body and his Blood, fulfilling what the prophet Isaiah said, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
He is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sins of the world.
Furthermore, he himself makes the offering prescribed by the Law of Moses.
He offers HIMSELF up, in place of us, as a sacrifice of THANKSGIVING— thanksgiving being the literal meaning of “Eucharist” … and he offers himself up, in place of us, as a sacrifice to atone for OUR sins.
In the Holy Spirit of Eucharistic communion, we join Christ in the atonement and gratitude he offers to the Father.
Today and always the Lord shows us his goodness.
Gratitude will save us from hardness of heart.
Let us worship the God who made us, and come before him giving thanks.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 28, 2006

For the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Thursday, 29 June A.D. 2006

As soon as Christ ascended into heaven, St. Peter told the Church to replace Judas.
In the original Greek language of the New Testament, St. Peter said, “Let someone else take his episkopèn,” meaning the role or office of “overseer,” epískopos, from which the English language gets the word “bishop”.
St. Peter led the Church to discern that St. Matthias was God’s choice as a replacement for Judas in apostolic service as a bishop.
Later, Christ, by his direct personal intervention from heaven, chose St. Paul to be an apostle.
The Church in the New Testament also names Saints Barnabas, Timothy and Titus as apostolic bishops.
The apostolic succession of bishops continues to our day in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
By celebrating the solemnity of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, we also celebrate everything that the apostolic bishops hand down to us from the Lord.
St. Peter mentions one of these traditions in the Acts of the Apostles.
One of the men who have accompanied us
during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day when he was taken up from us—
one of these men must become with us A WITNESS TO HIS RESURRECTION.”

The apostles have handed down to us their eyewitness testimony of Christ’s public service and his resurrection.
The tradition— the handing on— of the testimony of the first apostles eventually took the shape of the Gospels and the New Testament.
The Christian Bible is dependent on apostolic tradition— and not the other way round.
The second reality, the second tradition, that the apostolic succession of bishops preserves and serves to us is the sacraments, especially the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
St. Paul wrote of this in his first letter to the Christians in the city of Corinth.
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus,
on the night he was handed over,
took bread,
and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said,
“This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup,
after supper,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

The succession of bishops going back to the apostles gives us what the apostles themselves received from Christ.
For his part, Christ gives us what he himself receives from his Father.
In his Gospel, Christ tells us:
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me,
but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give to you.

You and I have come here to receive in the Word of God and the Eucharist of God what Christ wants to hand over to us from his Father.
We benefit from what the Lord himself gave his apostles, and what the apostles as bishops have handed on to us down through the centuries and across the oceans and continents.
Thank-you, St. Peter, and thank-you, St. Paul!

That God Be Glorified in All

June 27, 2006

For Wednesday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 7:15-20

Jesus is the only man who can raise his voice and speak out with perfect innocence, perfect worthiness, perfect truthfulness and a perfect right to do so.
He alone can condemn the sinfulness of others with no danger of hypocrisy.
He alone is free of all ulterior motives and free of all self-seeking.
Except for Jesus, every human being knows himself only partially.
Others may know or recognize some of our sins and our failings that we ourselves do not know, acknowledge or recognize.
Each one of us also has sins known only to God and our individual selves.
Furthermore, each one of us also has sins not known or recognized by ourselves or anyone else except God.
He tells us, “Beware of false prophets!”
We must also beware of BEING false prophets!
Whenever we come before the Lord to pray and to worship, we need to bear in mind that he sees and knows us infinitely better than we see and know ourselves.
He in his boundless purity and goodness has every perfect right to judge and condemn us who have turned away from him even more than we are able to realize.
Ironically, our ignorance is a partial contributor to our bliss and our salvation: God forgives us when we know not what we do.
He sees and knows us infinitely better than we see and know ourselves.
We were, are and forever remain nothing at all— if not for God.
He gains nothing by creating us … but we— who were nothing— gain everything, for he made us to see, know and love him.
In his holy eyes we are naked.
We are all sinners and false prophets to one degree or another, and God sees and knows all of it.
Here in his Holy Gospel and his Blessed Sacrifice, he himself comes to take away our sins, our falsehoods, our blindness and our ignorance.
He takes all of that onto his own back.
In return, he gives us his divine glory.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 26, 2006

For Tuesday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 7:6,12-14

Today in his Gospel, Jesus warns us not to be slack or complacent in our faith, not to presume that a blessed place in eternal life is automatic for us.
He gives us a stern and narrow view of salvation.
Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.

With his whole being, Jesus wants us inside the gate “that leads to life.”
Today he simply warns us the gate is narrow.
He himself came in pursuit of us, and did not hesitate to take communion with us through the narrow and miserable gateway of our human suffering and death.
There is reason here for great concern; but there is no room for despair.
God himself has lived and died to make for us an open gate out of himself, an open gate into himself.
God wants us inside, but the way there is HIS way and none other.
Scripture [Rm. 8:28,30] says:
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him,
who are called according to his purpose…
… and those whom he called he also justified;
and those whom he justified he also glorified.

This God who has loved us in Christ Jesus works for our good, calls us to himself, justifies us, and also glorifies us.
He “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” [Rm. 8:32].
Christ Jesus died,
yes, he was raised from the dead,
he is at the right hand of God,
he indeed intercedes for us [Rm. 8:35].

As we wait for his return, his intercession for us gives us reason to hope.
Within this very hour, with the Gospel and Eucharist of Christ, we are able to say to him,
We ate and drank in your presence.
You taught us.

However, we must constantly remain with him on the narrow way of his cross.
We must remain with him to serve, work and live as he did.
If we remain with him, then he can say to us in the end:
I have always known where you came from.
Come with me into the kingdom of our Father.

Let us rejoice in his goodness, his power and his promise, but let us be his faithful servants as well.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 25, 2006

For Monday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 7:1-5

There is nothing unique about our Lord’s teaching in his Gospel today.
We could get the same moral advice from any wise man or prophet, any guru, philosopher or flower child.
What is unique is that Christ our Lord is no mere wise man, no mere prophet or philosopher.
He alone in all the history of the world was a man without any degree of blindness in mind, morals or spirit.
He alone is the Son of God.
He is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.
Through him all things were made.
To save us from the blindness of sin and death he came down from heaven.
He who is God became a man by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is the saving paradox of the Lord.
He was without sin, yet, in order to take away the blindness and guilt of our sins, he made them his own, and took them upon himself through the blindness of death, death on the planks of the cross.
His wounds heal us.
He removed the specks and the planks we ourselves had put into our own eyes.
He removed them by receiving them into his own eyes.
On the cross he willingly took our guilt upon his innocent self.
In exchange he bestowed his own innocence upon us through the resurrection of his body and through our resurrection by baptism.
This gift of his innocence is the word that has allowed us to be counted as children of God.
That was the Lord’s mighty work, and that is his eternal promise.
We may be painfully aware of our own spiritual blindness, our moral blindness, our physical blindness or other dark sufferings of the body.
Yet faith should always prompt us to be just as aware that the Lord has freely made these realities his own in his flesh and blood, in his suffering and death.
As the personal head of the human race, all human suffering belongs to him by his own choice.
Though we still bear the burdens of our blindness and sufferings, we may choose to see them as the “receipt” or “invoice” proclaiming that the Lord has already paid for our share in the glory of his own innocence.
This wonderful exchange is proclaimed, renewed and strengthened in us each time we receive the Eucharist.
In his Eucharist the Lord gives us everything that is his.
He gives us himself.
In his own death he destroys our death.
In his own resurrection he restores our life.
Nothing remains but to await his return in glory.

That God Be Glorified in All