One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

+ + +

The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

August 05, 2006

For Saturday of the Seventeenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 14:1-12

St. John the Baptist announced the coming of Christ and openly preached a message of personal reformation through repentance from sin.
In the Gospel today, we have the privilege of being present to witness the fulfillment of the mission of the great disciple John the Baptist— not the END of his mission and of his life, but the FULFILLMENT.
At first glance, it would appear that John’s prophetic mission ended in gruesome failure.
On the contrary, our faith and tradition regard the Baptist’s death as his supreme act of testimony to the truth and his supreme act of discipleship as the prophet who announced the presence of the Lord.
In his own day, John’s prophetic holiness was considered so great that when the reputation of Jesus as a prophet and miracle-worker began to spread people thought John must have risen from the dead.
John preached repentance.
Jesus then came and preached the same.
Jesus sent his own disciples also to preach repentance.
John’s voice opened the ears, hearts and minds of the people, and gave them a hunger to hear the voice of the Lamb of God.
Great numbers of people began to flock to Jesus like sheep to their shepherd.
John prepared the way for the Lord.
He did this first of all by preaching repentance and testifying on behalf of the truth.
Although the immediate contemporaries of John did not recognize it, Jesus was the living and incarnate Truth itself that John’s preaching proclaimed.
Our Christian faith recognizes this, and recognizes also that John’s death for the sake of preaching the truth was ultimately death for the sake of Christ the Way, the Life and the TRUTH.
John’s death for the sake of Truth was therefore also a privileged foreshadowing of the death of Christ the Lord, the Living Truth.
However, the assertion that Christ is the Truth may prompt us to ask: “About WHAT is he the truth?”
We already know the answer to this question; but it is an answer whose meaning we can never exhaust.
Christ’s words and deeds, his teaching, way of life and his existence tell us the truth about GOD and the truth about HUMANITY.
Both the true nature of God and true nature of humanity are revealed, reconciled and united in the one person of Christ.
To look upon Christ is the vocation that each of us received when we were called into being.
To exist AT ALL is already to have answered and obeyed the voice of the Creator that commanded us into being.
Christ, the WORD of God, IS that voice of the Creator.
To look upon the face of Christ and to listen to his voice is the vocation of EVERY human being.
John the Baptist exhorted his hearers to look upon Jesus.
John’s exhortation still echoes in every offering of the Eucharist.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 04, 2006

For Friday of the Seventeenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 13:54-58

Is he not the carpenter’s son?

The family of Joseph the carpenter is that of King David from the town of Bethlehem where Christ was born.
In the Gospel, only two men are called “Son of David”: Christ and St. Joseph.
The first time God sent an angel to St. Joseph, the angel of God called Joseph, “son of David.”
The name of Joseph’s own biological father was Jacob.
“Joseph son of Jacob.”
However, God sent his angel to call Joseph “son of David,” rather than “son of Jacob.”
The Son of God himself shares on earth the title “Son of David” only with Joseph, the carpenter who lives and works in Nazareth.
Everything the Gospel tells us about St. Joseph is wrapped up in obedient service to the mission of the Son of God.
Joseph Son of David from Bethlehem is a carpenter who does everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Obedient as a slave to the mission of the Lord Christ, Joseph offers his service to the un-neighborly and small-hearted people of Nazareth.
In this way, St. Joseph the carpenter foreshadows the work of Christ himself.
Joseph is a son of David.
Christ is a son of David.
Joseph’s ancestral home is Bethlehem, a name meaning “house of bread.”
Christ was born in that place, the “House of Bread.”
He was born to be the “Bread of Life from Heaven.”
Yet as a human child, his life depended on bread earned by the work of St. Joseph.
Just like Joseph the carpenter who worked for the un-neighborly and small-hearted, Christ himself, the Bread of Life, serves the un-neighborly and small-hearted, not only in Nazareth like St. Joseph, but in all the towns of the world … even here … for us … right now.
As we eat and drink Christ the Son of God, we eat and drink the One who lived, grew and flourished on earth not only on the bread earned by the work of St. Joseph, but also on the love and example of St. Joseph.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph— pray for us!

That God Be Glorified in All

August 03, 2006

For Thursday of the Seventeenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 13:47-53

Today in his Gospel, Jesus again tells us a parable about the Kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom takes in all kinds of persons.
That is the way it is for the time being.
At the end of time, the Kingdom of heaven will keep the good, but throw away the bad.
“Throw away”— that is the expression Jesus uses in telling the parable.
The parable is symbolic.
However, Jesus then explains the meaning of the parable.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Until Jesus came, the Old Testament and the Jewish people of God had no idea that the wicked would go off to punishment.
By the time of Jesus, some, not all, of the People of God had begun to believe that God would reward righteous persons by raising them from the dead.
As for wicked persons, the People of God and the Old Testament really thought only that the wicked would simply stay dead in darkness, silence, stillness.
It was Jesus who broke into history with the news that wicked persons would be thrown into what he calls today “the fiery furnace”.
Jesus— NOT the Old Testament— JESUS revealed the eternal punishment of the wicked.
The reality of damnation highlights for us the urgency of the saving work and teaching of Jesus.
The reality of damnation highlights also the urgency of the Eucharist.
This is MY body!

My body GIVEN UP!

For YOU!

This is my BLOOD!

My blood … SHED!

Shed for YOU!

That sins may be FORGIVEN!

Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have NO life in you. [Jn. 6]

If we have no life in us, but only wickedness, then Jesus tells us in his Gospel today that “at the end of the age”:
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

To fulfill the eternal salvation he feeds us in his Eucharist, Jesus chose to undergo a hellish death.
Having undergone death for our eternal salvation, Jesus offers his Eucharist to us as the New and Everlasting COVENANT.
A binding partnership of life-and-death fidelity!
Though we receive this Covenant of the Eucharist with rightful joy, we must also respect it with utmost gravity.
Gravity: the Kingdom of heaven, or the fiery furnace!
Let us never treat lightly the eternally saving gift of the Eucharist!

That God Be Glorified in All

August 02, 2006

For Wednesday of the Seventeenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 13:44-46

These two short parables, in the space of just two sentences, have the same shape and meaning.
In each, a man comes across something of the greatest worth.
In order to have it for himself, it he goes immediately and sells everything else that belongs to him
The discovered treasure or pearl is the kingdom of heaven.
Our Lord is teaching us here that heaven is worth more than everything else we have.
He invites us to be willing to immediately divest ourselves of all that is ours— even our own selves— so as to invest everything, our whole selves, in heaven.
Today’s parables can also point to the treasure that is the Eucharist.
In his Eucharist the Lord himself is to be discovered not in a field but under the seeming appearances of bread and wine.
There is nothing we could ever do to “earn” this treasure.
We can only divest ourselves of everything, and come empty handed, poor in spirit, so that the kingdom of heaven AND THE LORD OF HEAVEN may be ours in this sacrament.
Only as poor in spirit, only as utterly dispossessed could we be fully fit for the complete mutual possession the Lord offers us in his Eucharist.
Our daily PARTAKING of the Lord in his Eucharist is just as much a daily LESSON.
We can spend our whole lives giving ourselves away, giving ourselves up.
Still the Lord always meets us with so much more.
There is a Latin saying that is well suited here.
“God is always greater.”
We can also read today’s parables “upside-down” in a certain sense.
Instead of a farmer and a merchant who happen to stumble across precious treasures, God is the one who has come deliberately seeking us out.
With full intention, knowledge and love, God calls us out of the fields and commerce of the world.
God esteems us more than mere treasures and pearls.
Furthermore, God himself in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ has sold himself into suffering and death so as to dig and buy us out of the dirt and commerce of sin and death.
St. Paul has said all of this in much stronger and difficult language [2 Cor. 5:21].
For our sake
God made Christ—
who knew no sin—
to BE SIN,
so that in him we might become the very holiness of God.

The Holy One has divested himself, dispossessed himself, so that in utter poverty he invests all that is his in sinners.
Here in the Eucharist, we sinners receive the very price that God the Holy One has himself paid for our freedom: the flesh and blood of God the Son of the Father.
Here is God’s holiness— traded for our emptiness.
Here is his wealth— traded for our emptiness.
Here is God’s life— traded for our emptiness.
Here is his divinity— traded for our emptiness.
Here is God— traded for sinners.
We ourselves can provide nothing to reciprocate in this wonderful exchange.
In this sacrament, even bread and wine are emptied of their own reality, so as really to become the flesh and blood of Christ.
We, too, need to come emptying ourselves, empty handed, poor in spirit, for only God can forever fill us, making us into the body and blood of Christ, making us into the very holiness of God.
Yet with God, here in the Eucharist, always and everywhere, no matter how much we divest ourselves, no matter how much empty room we are able to make for God, he always goes beyond it.
“God is always greater.”

That God Be Glorified in All

August 01, 2006

For Tuesday of the Seventeenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 13:36-43

Inside each of us, there are seeds and weeds of sin.
However, God tells us, the Church tells us and our faith tells us that, in baptism, God, with his own almighty hand and his eternal Spirit, has planted within each of us the seeds of righteousness, holiness and even much more.
By baptism and the Holy Spirit, God has planted his own Son within us, and has planted us in his Son.
God’s own power and divinity, his own light and truth, his own life and glory have been planted deep in our very being.
Each of us is a field of God, each of us an offspring of our heavenly Father.
We may trust that God himself will dig and plant, water us and weed out the causes of sin, whether now or in a future purgation.
At this moment, we are inside God’s house, where, right now, God himself is busy at work.
The Greek word “liturgy” refers to God’s WORK for his PEOPLE.
Here in the Liturgy of the Eucharist God is at work among his own sons and daughters, planting and gathering.
There is a beautiful prayer that speaks of this— a poetic prayer composed less than one hundred years after the Son of God himself, like a grain of wheat, fell into the earth and died— a prayer composed less than one hundred years after the Son of God sprouted from the earth in his eternal resurrection.
This prayer voices the rightful sense of hope and confidence that we dare to call our own, as well as the sense of gratitude that should enliven our faith.
we thank thee who hast planted
Thy holy Name within our hearts.
Knowledge and faith and life immortal
Jesus thy Son to us imparts.
Thou, Lord, didst make all for thy pleasure,
Didst give man food for all his days.
Giving in Christ the Bread eternal,
Thine is the power, be thine the praise.
Watch o’er thy Church, O Lord, in mercy,
Save it from evil, guard it still,
Perfect it in thy love, unite it,
Cleansed and conformed unto thy will.
As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
Was in this broken bread made one,
So from all lands thy Church be gathered
Into thy kingdom by thy Son.

That God Be Glorified in All

July 31, 2006

For Monday of the Seventeenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 13:31-35

Today we hear our Lord conclude a short series of parables about the kingdom of heaven.
The Gospel tells us today that our Lord always taught the people in parables, revealing to them the kingdom of heaven that has stayed hidden since the foundation of the world.
Through the patriarchs and prophets of ancient Israel, that hidden kingdom was gradually and partially revealed.
Finally, our Lord himself is the kingdom of heaven “personified”, as it were, and present in fullness.
Still, our Lord himself, and the kingdom of heaven, are easily overlooked— seeming so ordinary and nearly invisible as a mustard seed or granules of yeast.
Both the tiny mustard seed that grows into a giant shrub in which birds make their nests, and the bit of yeast which invades, transforms and swells a large quantity of flour into something even greater— both of these yield results far outstripping their initial size and visibility.
Truly present, but practically invisible, our Lord and his kingdom have changed the world.
The liturgy [fourth preface of Easter] of the Lord tells us:
In him a new age has dawned,
the long reign of sin is ended,
a broken world has been renewed,
and man is once again made whole.

On the surface, the facts of life and the ways of men appear mostly unchanged.
But in our Lord, a new meaning, and therefore also a changed reality, are both present and at work in the world, yet still as invisible as mustard seeds or yeast.
What our Lord has accomplished in his own person is real, is now present and at work.
It will be revealed in its fullness when he returns.
It is the same with his Eucharist that we now celebrate.
Here is the mustard seed of heaven, among whose branches God gives us a home to dwell in.
Here is the yeast of heaven which changes even our mortal bodies from grain which has been dried, beaten, winnowed and ground, making of them living bread for God.
Here are the Risen Body and Living Blood of our Lord, hidden in appearances, yet giving newness of life and true hope if we but believe and live as he taught us.

That God Be Glorified in All

July 30, 2006

For the Seventeenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

John 6:1-15

Today our risen Lord comes to begin a high chapter in his teaching: the great news of his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood.
Today at Mass, and for several more Sundays, our Lord comes to give us a Eucharistic Gospel even as we celebrate, worship and receive him in his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood
Today in his Gospel, a crowd follows him because of the miracles he has done for those in need.
On another occasion, at a wedding feast in Cana, we witnessed human need and Christ’s answer, his first public miracle.
At that banquet, we saw the bride and groom who had TOO LITTLE, and to whom God then gave TOO MUCH.
First there was NO MORE wine, and then— when it was almost too late— there was far TOO MUCH wine— and the BEST of wine at that.
Today in the Gospel, there is a crowd of five thousand, but with ONLY five loaves of bread and two fish— FAR TOO LITTLE to feed them all.
The Lord, however, gives them not only enough to eat, but TOO MUCH: afterwards there are twelve baskets of leftovers.
A sign from God— a sign about God!
Christ our God wants to fill our emptiness, to satisfy our needs.
However, what he gives goes FAR BEYOND the mere filling of our needs.
It goes FAR BEYOND the mere healing of our emptiness.
Here in the Eucharist, Christ our God breaks his body, pours out his blood, and gives away his very self for us as food and drink.
Giving us HIMSELF, he gives MORE than we need— and not only what is good, but what is the absolute BEST, the HOLIEST.
This is a challenge.
In the end, we receive what we need, we are healed, fulfilled and saved by receiving and participating in God GIVING HIMSELF AWAY.
So … healing and fulfillment that are not open to self-abandonment and self-sacrifice are not complete.
Instead, healing and fulfillment that are not open to self-abandonment and self-sacrifice end up sterile, self-centered, lonely— and even more deeply and mortally wounded.
As the sons and daughters of God, we are made to be like God and to love like God.
We are free, and it is in our nature— as God made us— to pour ourselves out like God, giving ourselves up, giving ourselves away.
We must not stop at our own healing and fulfillment.
We must pass beyond that into the TOO MUCH of God:
giving away what we are,
giving ourselves away for the service of others,
and giving ourselves away in the worship of God,
believing, hoping in and desiring nothing else at all
if it does not include becoming like God in self-abandonment, self-surrender, self-sacrifice.
That is love.
When we are willing to risk setting aside everything that we have and are, then our eyes, our minds and our hearts begin to gradually widen to see, know, experience and BE LIKE GOD— more deeply, more truly.
What is the good news in all of this?
It is that whether or not we are ready for all this— whether or not we are ready to begin going beyond our personal healing and personal fulfillment— God still gives himself away.
HE IS for us and for our salvation from the very beginning.
He gives TOO MUCH, for he is God.
The Eucharist we offer and receive is God in Christ sacrificing himself, giving himself up, giving himself away: for US and to US— at no final cost to our selves.
We must come empty handed and holding onto nothing.
That is our salvation.
We are free to accept and free to refuse.
Yet, whenever we offer and receive his Eucharist, Christ invites us to JOIN him in making DIVINE self-sacrifice.
We are to JOIN Christ in his act of self-sacrifice.
To become like God in self-sacrifice and self-abandoning— that also is our salvation.
We promise to do that whenever we dare to celebrate, offer and receive Christ in his Eucharist.
Today at this Eucharistic Sacrifice, even if we end up promising LESS than we can, or giving LESS than we promise, God in his Eucharist will still give us TOO MUCH.

That God Be Glorified in All