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.

August 12, 2006

For Saturday of the Eighteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 17:14-20

What we witness in the Gospel today happens right after— back-to-back with— the Transfiguration of the Lord.
In the Lord’s Transfiguration, his face, his body and his handmade clothes shine with the glory of heaven.
Today, in contrast to his own TRANS-figured appearance, the Lord meets a boy whose life is DIS-figured by a demon.
In the Lord’s Transfiguration, the voice of heaven says of Christ, “This is my Son— listen to him.”
Today, the father of the afflicted boy says to Christ, “Here is my son— have mercy on us!”
In the Transfiguration of the Lord, Christ reveals his glory on a mountain.
Today, below that same mountain, the faith-filled plea of a grieved father moves mountains so that Christ again reveals his glory for the sake of that man’s afflicted son.
In the Lord’s Transfiguration, the heavenly Father declares that Christ is his beloved Son with whom he is well pleased.
Today in contrast, Christ gives vent to strong displeasure at his timid, doubt-filled disciples.
O faithless and perverse generation,
how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?

When the disciples ask him why they themselves are unable to throw out the demon, Christ answers them.
Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you,
[if you have faith like this boy’s father]
if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
“Move from here to there,”
and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.

Just a mustard seed’s worth of faith for a whole mountain of transfiguration and glory!
The father of the boy in the Gospel today is a model of faith for us.
Everything that is in us needs to learn to go to Christ and kneel down in faith before him as the boy’s father did.
Everything that is in us, everything that we are:
the choices we make, the way we live in and with our bodies;
the way we experience and cultivate our emotions;
the disciplines we apply in our intellectual life.
Everything that is in us and everything that we are needs to kneel down before Christ.
Our adoring faith needs to cry out in us, “Lord, have mercy on us, and help us for we are lacking in faith!”
Then the mountain of the Lord’s glory can move for us.
He will reveal himself in us, shining like the sun.
One day he really will.
That is God’s plan from the very beginning, since he made us in his own image.
Christ is the fullness and the fulfillment of that image.
Let us exert our faith in the worship of him through all the details of our lives, and ask him to reveal his mercy and glory that he gives us in his Eucharist.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 11, 2006

For Friday of the Eighteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 16:24-28

Some of those who heard Christ speak these words aloud also later saw him risen from the dead as the King of eternal life.
You and I who now receive these words know and believe in Christ the King and his resurrection.
Today in this Gospel, Christ is not telling us a parable.
He is not speaking in symbols today.
He is telling us what shall plainly happen.
He says he will return with his angels and his Father’s glory.
He will repay each person according to that person’s conduct.
Some shall have forfeited eternal life, because they preferred what the world offers instead of what Christ offers.
Others shall have gained salvation for eternal life in glory, because they freely chose to suffer whenever that was the cost of imitating Christ.
As he says it today:
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross,
and follow me.

Suffering for Christ can take the shape of accepting minor inconveniences for the sake of simple honesty, faithfulness and generosity in ordinary and little things.
Choosing to suffer for Christ can also go so far as accepting martyrdom rather than abandoning the way of Christ.
Whatever the case may, to wish to follow Christ into the eternal resurrection is to make God in Christ the highest priority in all that we do.
As he says it today:
whoever loses his life for MY sake will find it.

Here in his Eucharist, the Son of God has chosen to “lose” his life for the glory of his Father and for our sake.
He loses his life so that he may find us at his side beyond death, in his Father’s glory, together with his angels, in his Kingdom.
Christ has opened the way.
The choice to follow belongs to us.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 10, 2006

For the Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, August 10

John 12:24-26
2 Corinthians 9:6-10

Pope John Paul II, among others, pointed out that the twentieth century is the bloodiest century in the history of Christian martyrdom.
We traditionally speak of the first three-hundred years of our Lord as the age of martyrdom.
However, if the twentieth is the greatest century of martyrdom, what might St. Lawrence and the first age of martyrdom have to tell us now that we are in the first decade of a new century and a new millennium of our Lord Jesus Christ?
St. Lawrence the deacon comes after only Saints Peter and Paul as the favorite martyr of the city of Rome.
St. Lawrence was martyred in Rome on August 10 in the year of our Lord 258.
He was a deacon serving directly under Pope Sixtus who was martyred three days before St. Lawrence.
In the year of our Lord 313, fifty-five years after pagan Rome put St. Lawrence to death, Christianity became the state religion of the Roman empire.
Christian tradition has always called the blood of martyrs “the seed of Christians”.
The blood of St. Lawrence and the early Roman martyrs was seed planted in the soil of Rome— seed that then overtook the whole field of Rome and even the chief Roman farmer, the emperor himself.
Today we heard the apostle Paul who was also martyred in Rome.
In his second letter to the Corinthians he tells us:
whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

The one who supplies seed to the sower…
will supply and multiply your seed
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Our Lord was also put to death by the hands of Romans.
Today in his Gospel he tells us:
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat.
but if it dies;
it produces much fruit.

With faith and great hope, let us pray that the present twenty-first century of our Lord will become an age of Christianity in full flower throughout the whole world.
The Church has always embraced the suffering and the blood of martyrs as the seeds of her growth.
That makes no sense in the measure of the practical world.
However, it is the way and truth of Christ himself.
His own body the Church rises in glory out of his own resurrection from suffering and death.
The apostles appointed the first deacons of the Church in order to protect the ministry of the apostles themselves.
The apostles defined their own apostolic ministry as prayer and preaching the word of God.
In the measure of the practical world, prayer, like martyrdom, is not a practical means to growth.
Yet, after the apostles prayed over and laid hands on the first deacons, appointing them to social service in the Church, while the apostles kept to prayer and preaching, the Scripture [Acts 6:7] simply adds that:
the word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

We do well to hope and believe that the prayers, the suffering and the blood of the martyrs of the twentieth century will make for a multiplication of disciples and priests obedient to the faith in the twenty-first century.
The blood of the Christian martyr invokes the blood of Christ and makes his power present.
Here in his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood, God gives himself without condition or limit, in the form of a servant, honoring us and giving eternal life.
In his flesh and blood he serves himself up to us as that which dies to give us life: God feeding and enriching us with his greatness, might and immortality.
For his servants, for sinners, the One Greatest and Almighty has lowered and sacrificed himself.
For us men and for our salvation, he still comes down from heaven.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 09, 2006

For Wednesday of the Eighteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 15:21-28

In this Gospel, the sick girl’s mother is one of the Canaanites— who are foreigners, enemies, worshipers of idols.
The very first thing the sick girl’s mother said today was the acclamation, LORD, SON OF DAVID.
With that expression, she prophetically acknowledged Jesus to be the chosen Messiah, the Anointed One of the God of ISRAEL.
Lord, Son of David!

After that, her brave persistence in begging for help is only secondary.
Jesus came as the Messiah of the JEWS— God’s CHOSEN PEOPLE.
Every human being is able to become a Chosen One of God through the mercy of God and faith in Jesus as the Messiah promised to the Jews.
Today in his Gospel, Christ emphatically asserts that his mission was for Israel.
However, he fulfilled his mission by suffering and dying for Israel and for ALL of sinful humanity.
Like the Canaanite woman today, we also beg for healing, whether of body, mind or spirit, whether for ourselves or for others.
Christ carried our sins, weaknesses, diseases and our death; and he destroyed them in himself by his own suffering and death on the Cross.
He can offer us particular healings of body, mind or spirit.
However, those are merely crumbs on the floor compared to what he offers us in his Eucharist.
Faith in Christ offers us SALVATION: the privilege to eat at the table of the sons and daughters of God— and not as mere FOREIGN GUESTS, but as SONS AND DAUGHTERS brought to birth within Christ’s Body— NATIVE sons and daughters born of God through faith and baptism.
We might continue to pray for mere crumbs.
Yet God himself gives us the whole table— and his dining room as well.
In his Son Christ Jesus, God himself is the Open Door through which we enter.
God in Christ is the gracious host who serves us at table.
God in Christ is the Living Food and Drink set before us.
When we partake of this Banquet as God’s children with faith and fidelity, God gives us the gift of a full, undivided share in his own life.
In his Gospel today, Christ finally answered the Canaanite woman’s pleas for the healing of her daughter.
O woman,
great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.

In his Eucharist, he says to us “Let it be done for you even BEYOND your wishes.”
Let us at least begin to wish what GOD wishes.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 08, 2006

For Tuesday of the Eighteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 14:22-36

Today we see our Lord once more climbing up a mountain around sunset to pray alone.
However, he is not really alone.
In prayer, he, the Son of God, faces his Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
In the final hours before sunrise, he comes down the mountain.
He walks on the waters of a storm-tossed lake.
When he steps into the wave-battered boat of his terrified disciples, the storm gives up and dies.
His disciples then speak the truth.
Truly, you are the Son of God.

Before he stepped into the boat, he ordered St. Peter to walk towards him on the water.
In many ways we see the Church today in the same situation as the Gospel today.
There is a violent storm and tossing seas.
The Lord, for the moment does not yet subdue the tempest.
He simply gives an order.

Come to me on the water!
Come to me through the storm!

We watched Pope John Paul II keep on going until the final days of his life.
He did not say, “I’m not able to serve.”
He never said, “I’m too old to serve.”
He did not say, “I’m too weak and too sick to serve.”
He did not say, “The storm and the waves are too much.”
He just kept going calmly through the waves, the storm and even the bullets— and he didn’t shut up.
He simply told the world, “I follow the Son of God. Come with me!”
St. Peter, today in the Gospel, became frightened and began to sink.
The Lord blamed Peter for having little faith, for doubting.
In this, we recognize what the Lord wants of us in the midst of the present stormy winds and waves.
He wants us all to do what Pope John Paul II did: simply to walk to Christ through all that is happening, and to let the world hear us say with the disciples in the Gospel, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
The first disciples did not know at the time that as they fought against the wind and sea through the night, their loving Lord was praying.
Throughout all that happens to us in the world today, the Son of God is our praying representative in the presence of the Father on the mountain of unity in the Spirit.
In his Eucharist as well, the Son of God is our representative in the presence of the Father on the mountain of unity in the Spirit.
In the midst of storm-winds and rough seas, he speaks to us in his Eucharist the same things he says in the Gospel today.
Take courage!
It is I.
Do not be afraid!


O you of little faith!
Why did you doubt?

As we receive him in his Eucharist, he steps into our boat.
It is time, then, for us to join the disciples in the Gospel today.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

That God Be Glorified in All

August 07, 2006

For Monday of the Eighteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 14:13-21

The setting for today’s Gospel event is important.
John the Baptist has just been put to death, and Jesus receives word of it.
Even Jesus is in danger, and attempts to withdraw to an out of the way place.
Nonetheless, a crowd follows him there, and his compassion wins out again.
He begins to heal the sick.
He is setting the stage for another mysterious revelation of his Godly power and Godly ways.
God the Almighty reveals himself in the person of Christ as being meek and humble of heart.
God in Christ becomes poor so as to make us rich.
Today in this Gospel, Christ withdrew in the face of likely persecution and death.
Yet even in this situation, he, the persecuted one, stops to pour out for us his inconceivable wealth.
In one of his prophets [Is. 55:1-3] God gives us the following promise
and invitation.
All of you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
you who have no money,
come … eat!
Come, drink
without money and without price.
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in richness.
Listen, come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant….

The Eucharist is God’s promise to us.
However, since he calls it “The New and Everlasting Covenant”, the Eucharist is also an invitation from God to promise ourselves to him.
Unless we make such a vow as we receive the Eucharist, then our hearts, our minds and our lives are not open or able to receive authentically what God promises and offers in the Eucharist.
Both the Eucharist and Marriage are sacraments and covenants.
In both the Eucharist and Marriage, it takes two to make a Holy Communion.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 06, 2006

For the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, August 6

Mark 9:2-10

At the very center of what we are witnessing in the Gospel today, Peter tells the Lord, “How good it is for us to be here!”
Would it not be for any of us the privilege of a lifetime to stand before Christ, to see him with our own eyes, his body and his clothes shining like the sun?
The Lord made a promise to be in our midst whenever even just two or three of us should gather in his name.
So the Lord is here now.
As we witness his Gospel today, we have him with us.
We are, then, real witnesses of his Transfiguration.
He himself is here, revealing himself in his own Gospel.
We are real witnesses of his Transfiguration.
How good it is to be here!
What are we to take with us from this celebration, and what testimony are we to give of it?
Just a few days before his Transfiguration, the Lord gave the disciples his first prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection.
They didn’t understand the prediction.
Peter even protested against it, and the Lord answered him with a harsh rebuke.
The Lord then gave them a lesson and a promise.
First, if they were going to be his disciples, they would have to be willing to suffer and die for him.
Then he promised that some of them would live to see him in the glory of his kingdom.
He fulfilled that promise more than once.
We can understand his Transfiguration as his first fulfillment.
Just a week after promising them they would live to see him in the glory of his kingdom, he lets Peter, James and John see his entire appearance change, his body and his clothes shining like the sun.
The Lord also reveals the glory of his kingship on the Cross.
There, even as God and King, he pours out the royal and divine glory of his love to welcome and embrace everything that is human, even abandonment, suffering, poverty and death.
“Jesus of Nazareth, the King....”
The apostles saw the promise of the Lord’s glory fulfilled once more in his Resurrection.
Today in his Gospel we hear the Lord himself link his Transfiguration and his Resurrection by telling Peter, James and John that they are not to speak of what they have seen today until he has risen from the dead.
Each year at Easter we witness and celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.
Each Easter, we, his baptized faithful, renew the vows of Baptism.
We are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Today in the Transfiguration, we are witnesses of all three of them, Father, Son and Spirit.
First Jesus is here, his body and clothing revealing the light of heaven.
As we stand before him, the embracing cloud of the Spirit adds its own confirmation to the splendor of Jesus.
Now the Father speaks to us of Jesus.
This is my Son—
my beloved Son.
Listen to him!

We have been baptized into the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
In Baptism, God himself in Christ has brought us to the mountaintop of heaven and enveloped us in the light of the Spirit.
In Baptism, God himself in Christ has clothed us with the Spirit of adoption, so that he already counts us as risen out of death into glory as his sons and daughters.
Through Baptism, what we celebrate in the Transfiguration and the Resurrection is no longer just about Christ.
It is about the Father and the Spirit, and it is about our very selves.
That the body of Jesus and even his handmade clothing should shine with heaven’s glory is a sign of the high dignity that God has given to our own bodies, to human life and culture.
This is my beloved Son.

In Christ God has passed judgment on our world, and his is a judgment of fatherhood and love.
It is with great confidence, then, that we should face our lives in the world.
Our real world does require us to walk behind the Lord on the way to a share in his cross.
Yet, even as the Lord led his three apostles downhill today— downhill away from the glory of the mountaintop— the apostles continued to discuss what “to rise from the dead” meant.
Even when things may be going downhill for us, we must allow our faith in Christ to transfigure our hearts and minds through a discussion of what “to rise from the dead” means.
At this very moment we are approaching the Eucharist.
In this Blessed Sacrament, the same body and blood that shone in the Transfiguration are really present.
In this sacrament Jesus crucified bodily and bloodily, Jesus dead and risen in body and blood is really present.
In this sacrament he really and truly breathes out the Spirit of the Father upon us, within us, in body, in spirit and in truth.
In this sacrament he gives us a share in his bodily resurrection and its meaning: that the very life and glory of God himself dwells in and finally transfigures the flesh and blood of his sons and daughters.
How good it is to be here!

That God Be Glorified in All