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.

September 09, 2006

For Saturday of the Twenty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 6:1-5

God commands that we make one day holy by setting it apart for the Lord.
That day is to be given over to devout mindfulness of God as the Lord of all life and work, God as Lord of man’s entire existence, Lord of all of man’s life and activity.
Without that devout mindfulness fixed on GOD, the day would merely be a dead, negative and empty day without purpose or meaning.
For man, the Sabbath is to be observed as “The Day FOR the Lord.”
For God, the Sabbath is “The Day for Man.”
As Christ our Lord and God has told us, God mad the Sabbath for MAN.
We, the baptized faithful of Christ, have a new Sabbath, a new day of the Lord, “Sunday,” as we call it in English.
It is the day when Christ our God in human flesh rose from the dead for us.
It is the day on which God is alive and at work for us.
It is the day on which he worked his final and eternal wonder on human flesh.
It is the day when our own human nature, our own human flesh and blood began to live incorrupt and glorified forever in Christ.
The new “Day of God the Risen Lord” passes through the locked doors of time, so that it is present at every second, every minute, every hour, every day and in every place.
Whenever we celebrate the Liturgy, God is at work in a special way, present for us in his Risen Son and in the sending of the Holy Spirit.
In the Liturgy, God is present and hard at work for us in his Gospel and in the mystery of Christ’s Body and Blood.
In these, God enters the Church and the world, and is present.
In his Holy Gospel and his Blessed Sacrament he comes to “work” his Resurrection upon us.
Here in our worship of God, he raises up, restores, saves, sanctifies and glorifies our bodies and our whole nature in his own Body and Blood.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 08, 2006

For the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 8 September

Matthew 1:1-16,18-23

The Word of God tells us that everything our heavenly Father wills always meets with the eternal “yes” and living gratitude of the divine Son.
The Father’s will and the Son’s obedient gratitude are also alive with the eternal power and communion of the Holy Spirit.
The Father’s will, the Son’s obedience and gratitude, the Spirit’s power and communion— this is the Love that made the universe.
We came into being from the will of the Father, from the obedient “yes” and living gratitude of the Son, and from the power and communion of the Spirit.
However, through sin we have shut our eyes and turned our backs against this Love that made us.
Scripture tells us that after Adam sinned, he tried to hide from God.
We have shut our eyes and turned our backs against the will of the Father, against the obedience and gratitude of the Son, and against the power and unity of the Holy Spirit.
In the face of our sin, God who made us has chosen neither to annihilate us nor force himself upon our freedom.
Instead, God has given creation a new beginning, and freely offers us this new beginning of creation as a gift.
God has done this in Christ the New Adam.
In the beginning God made the body of the first Adam from the virgin earth.
To form the body of Christ, the Sinless New Adam, God again prepared the earth through the virgin and sinless humanity of Mary.
She whose birth we celebrate today is the dawn, the threshold and the mother of our salvation.
She is ever sinless and ever virgin by the will of the Father, through the obedience and gratitude of the Son, and in the power and unity of the Holy Spirit.
Upon receiving God’s message through an angel at Nazareth, Mary gave her own “yes” to God’s plan…
her “yes” to the will of the Father…
her “yes” to the obedience and gratitude of the Son…
her “yes” to the power and unity of the Spirit.
Pope John Paul II pointed out in a lovely manner that Mary is the human race’s “yes” to God’s plan, and that she is God’s “yes” to our salvation.
Out of Mary’s “yes” is born our salvation in Christ Jesus.
In him the Son of Mary, in him the New Adam, we return to the will of the Father;
we return in the obedience and gratitude of the Son;
we return through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Mary gave birth to all of this.
Indeed, not only “happy” but most blessed is her birthday.
Blessed is she who bore and nursed our Savior.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death! Amen.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 07, 2006

For Thursday of the Twenty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 5:1-11

Today in our hearing, Christ has chosen Simon Peter to catch living members for the kingdom of life in God.
Simon had already heard Jesus preach, and had even hosted him as a guest in his own house, where Jesus healed his mother-in-law.
All of this had left an impression on Simon— an impression great enough that in spite of his own experience as a fisherman, and even after an entire fruitless night of fishing, Simon still obeys the command of Jesus:
Put out into deep water
and lower your nets for a catch.

With this act of obedience, the stage is now set for Simon Peter’s personal summons.
Simon sees that at the command of Jesus so many fish fill the nets that these begin to break; and the weight of the catch is so great that two boats begin to sink beneath it.
Simon seems afraid to be involved in an act of God.
He falls at the knees of Jesus, and he says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid.”
Then Jesus gives Simon a vocation.
The Lord said to Simon that instead of fish, “From now on you will be catching men.”
Simon and his partners James and John silently brought their boats to land, left everything, obeyed their vocation and followed the Lord.
We can also recognize the pattern of today’s Gospel event each time we put out into the deep water of the Lord’s Work in his Eucharist.
We find ourselves face to face with God, the Lord, the Almighty Holy One who in this Blessed Sacrament works the exceeding wonder of his love and mercy for our salvation.
Then, if we are humble enough to be honest, we experience and recognize the distance between our unworthiness and God’s holiness— a distance that God has chosen to cross.
So we cry out, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.”
And he, who is Love itself, he, who is himself the casting out of all fear, comes to us in the Eucharist of his body and blood which he surrendered to be our healing from fear and sin.
In receiving the Sacred Body and the Precious Blood of Christ, we also receive the command, our mission to be his flesh and blood, his Church for the life of the world.
We give quiet and simple obedience to this mission as we speak our “Amen” in receiving the Eucharist.
Ite, missa est ECCLESIA— “Go, all of you, the Church is now sent”— MISSA— sent to catch living members from out of the world’s deep waters of sin and death, to catch them into the deep waters of God’s kingdom of life.
Thanks be to God!

That God Be Glorified in All

September 06, 2006

For Wednesday of the Twenty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 4:38-44

Today, for the second time in his life, Jesus speaks of his sense of mission.
because for this purpose I have been sent.

The first time he spoke this way, he was only twelve years old.
Did you not know that I must BE IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE?

His mission takes him in two directions.
First: to serve his Father.
Second: to bring the world the goodness of God the King.
Even on the day Jesus was born, the angels sang of his mission.
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace….

His double mission is the glory of his Father and the good of the world.
After he rose from the dead, his first words to any human being were about his double mission.
I have not yet ascended TO THE FATHER.
Go to my brothers and tell them,
“I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.”

It is a matter of life and death to search for Christ.
He gives us the greatest, boundless and endless good.
However, as he meets us, he also points BEYOND our own good and beyond himself.
He points to the glory of the Father.
Here in his Eucharist he feeds us with the greatest, boundless and endless good.
He wants to feed our hungry spirits, our hungry minds and also our hungry flesh and blood.
Even as he benefits us, he points BEYOND our benefit and beyond himself.
After he first gave the Church the greatest, boundless and endless good in his body and blood, he said he was not to drink with us again until doing so with us in HIS FATHER’S KINGDOM.
The Eucharistic flesh and blood of Christ is our greatest, boundless and endless good because it leads and calls us to peace with our royal, heavenly Father … TO WHOM BE GLORY IN THE HIGHEST.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 05, 2006

For Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 4:31-37

Twice in the Gospel today, the citizens of Capernaum are reported to be astonished or amazed at the words of Jesus.
First, they hear him teach in their synagogue on the Sabbath.
They find authority itself in his words.
He is more than a homilist.
Then, they watch in amazement as he banishes an unclean spirit with a mere verbal command.
So they recognize that the authoritative word of Jesus also has power.
He is definitely more than a homilist.
In fact, the demon today has it exactly right, saying to Jesus, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
The events in Capernaum today in the Gospel invite us to give recognition—OBEDIENT RECOGNITION— to the authoritative and powerful word of Jesus, the Holy One of God.
By our obedience we open the door to the power of Jesus in our lives.
No matter how sinful any of us may ever be, we are never unclean demons whom Jesus wants to drive out.
We are lost sheep, lost children, and Jesus, the Holy One of God, is in search of us.
By our obedience— perhaps even a lifelong labor of obedience— we offer ourselves to be met, found and saved by the power of Christ.
Every Sunday in the Gloria of the Mass, we echo what is said and done in Capernaum today.
Lord Jesus Christ
you take away the sin of the world
you alone are the Holy One
with the Holy Spirit
in the glory of God the Father

More by our obedient lives than by our words, may we ourselves fulfill for Jesus the last sentence of his Gospel we heard today.
His renown kept spreading through the surrounding country.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 04, 2006

For Monday of the Twenty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 4:16-30

Today in his Gospel, Christ reveals to us part of his miserable and yet invisibly glorious destiny.
The hometown neighbors of our Lord openly acknowledge the wisdom they themselves hear when he teaches in their house of worship.
They also know he has the power to work wonders.
They have probably heard he raised a dead girl back to life just a few days before.
The townmates of our Lord have something really astonishing to talk about.
The wisdom and power of their fellow Nazarene overwhelms them.
Unfortunately, it is precisely because they know him as their mere neighbor, a craftsman, that they refuse to give him the credit, the acceptance and the faith that his power and wisdom have earned practically everywhere else.
He openly proclaims that such is the unavoidable fate of every true prophet, and that it is to be his own destiny and mission.
Where hearts are closed, no mighty wonders can happen.
Our Lord is unwilling to force any miracles upon the people of Nazareth.
They closed their hearts.
So he chooses to close and withdraw his open hand, except to extend his healing mercy upon a few sick people.
None of the earlier prophets— no one— was ever so deeply and so universally denied as was our Lord.
The very first “Christians”— Judas Iscariot, Simon Peter and the other apostles— betrayed, denied and abandoned him.
The Jews rejected him.
The pagans put him to death.
The first twelve Christians, the rest of their brother Jews as well as the pagans— they all refused our Lord.
Some repented, some converted, but they all at first turned their backs or their hammers on our Lord.
This refusal, this disapproval, this shutting of the human heart— it was this that the Son of God faced and took upon himself in becoming a man like us.
In Christ— who was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth— in Christ the heart of all humanity is open again: open in the openness and obedience of Christ to his mission, obedience even unto death, death on the Cross, the Cross where even his heart of flesh is stabbed open by the blade of a spear.
In the death and resurrection of Christ, true God and true man, the heart of all humanity is open again for God.
In the death and resurrection of Christ, true God and true man, the eternally open heart of God is also present.
In Christ, dead and risen, the reopened heart of humanity and the eternally open heart of God are one and the same, pierced open to be the one and ultimately only doorway whereby God and humanity enter into communion with each other.
The death of Christ on the Cross is his greatest sign of wonder and might— greater than any other sign he could have worked in Nazareth or anywhere else.
For in the weakness, wounding and death of Christ, God reveals his power— the power to save humanity from its own tightly shut heart.
When we allow our hearts to accept the truth and the invitation to be open— an invitation given in the sign of the Cross— then we can realize and say in the Spirit of Christ:
When I am weak—
powerless, mistreated, needy—
it is then that I am strong…
it is then that the victorious destiny of Christ
is realized even in me.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 03, 2006

For a Wedding Mass

Jesús Benjamín and Christine Elizabeth
2 September A.D. 2006

John 17:20-26
Genesis 2:18-24
Ephesians 5:2a,21-33

Today in his Gospel, every sentence our Lord speaks is about

— our unity or union with Christ the Son of God;
— the Son’s union with his Father;
— our union with the Father through union with his Son.

This holy union is SPIRIT.
Recognizing that union, the Church voices her prayers through the Son who lives and reigns with the Father IN THE UNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
If we are to grow in loving Christ and his Father, it will come from unity of the Holy Spirit.
Christ tells us today that this unity comes FROM and IN the Church of his apostles.
He speaks and prays today from the Last Supper, in the upper room, in the presence of his apostles.
Praying in the presence of his apostles— IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS CHURCH— he tells the Father:
but also for those who will believe in me through THEIR word,
so that they may all be ONE,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
so that the world may believe that you sent me.

Here and throughout his Gospel the mind of Christ is that union with God the Father comes to the world:

through his Son…
in the Spirit…

Christ prays that his Body, the Apostolic Church, may have union with God in holiness of the Spirit, so that the word of the Church may have believability.
Though the members of the Church may be sinful, though they may be lacking in credibility— Christ is nonetheless present and at work in them.
That is what he says in his Gospel today—

— on the very night that one of his twelve sinful apostles would turn him over to the authorities . . .
— the very night on which the sinful leader of his sinful apostles would lie three times to escape sharing Christ’s suffering . . .
— that very same night on which all twelve sinful apostles would run away.

NONETHELESS, Christ said of them what we heard today:
I have given them the GLORY you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the WORLD may know that you sent me

What moves men and women to Christian conversion is not the Church’s own credibility, but the personal GLORY of God in Christ— the Father’s GLORY that Christ has ALREADY given to his Church.
I HAVE GIVEN them the glory you gave me…
that they may be one…
that they may be brought to perfection as one

Ben— Jesús Benjamín— and Christine Elizabeth!
Your first names— your sacramental, Baptismal names— Jesús and Christine — together are a proclamation of Jesus Christ.
May your union in marriage also be a proclamation of Jesus Christ.
You are here today to vow to be one in Jesus Christ, in the “great mystery” and sacrament of marriage.
Here in his Gospel today, Christ has already been praying to his Father for the two of you.
Christ the King will soon rise from this altar as the New and Everlasting Covenant in Eucharistic Flesh and Blood.
You will give yourselves and your marriage to him.
Then, as he gives himself to his Father and to you this day in his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood, he fulfills what he has already declared in his Gospel.
I have given them the GLORY you gave me…
that they may be brought to perfection as one

The source and the goal of perfect unity in marriage is the glory of God in the Eucharistic Flesh and Blood of Christ the Bridegroom.
Benjamin and Christine!
Today and here, in the Covenants of Holy Matrimony and the Most Blessed Eucharist, Christ the King and his Bridal Church call and send you to be tabernacles of God’s glory and apostles of God’s glory.
Benjamin and Christine, by living your marriage, let the world know that we have a King.

That God Be Glorified in All

For the Twenty-Second Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
James 1:17-18,21b-22,27

We witness today another conflict between Jesus on one side and the Pharisees and scribes on the other.
Jesus criticizes their and hypocrisy and hollow lipservice.
He quotes the prophet Isaiah.
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.

Then Jesus adds, “You disregard God’s commandment.”
Disregard for God’s commandments keeps our hearts far from God.
Jesus sums up the breaking of God’s commandments as sins that begin in the heart and show up in our thoughts and actions.
He puts it this way today.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.

Jesus forgave sinners.
He forgave prostitutes, robbers, adulterers and corrupt tax officials.
He forgave people whom he knew to be guilty of the evil things that he names today:
evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.

Jesus forgave and still forgives even before our hearts may be ready to seek forgiveness.
As he said from his cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
However, he does not want a one-way relationship.
Jesus is not satisfied to forgive us and then leave us alone where we are.
He wants us to leave sin behind and to be close to him.
He expresses his concern today.
Their hearts are far from me

You disregard God’s commandment

He wants our hearts to be close to him, and the first step in that direction is to obey God’s commandments.
However, what if we find ourselves weak?
What if our struggle against sin is painful and full of repeated, lifelong failure?
What if we find our hearts so chained or hardened that it seems to us there is no hope?
Let’s recall two lessons from Jesus that ought to give us hope.
The first lesson is about a corrupt public official who does not seem to be getting anywhere good and he knows it.
All that he finds himself able to do is to visit the house of God, stand far away from the altar, look down at the floor, beat his chest and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
Jesus said:
This man went home justified.
He who humbles himself will be exalted.

To confess from the heart that we are sinners is already a lifting up of our hearts to God.
There is more.
Two criminals were crucified together with Jesus.
One of the criminals … mocked him, saying,
“Are you not the Anointed One?
Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal answered him, saying,
“Do you not fear God,
since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
You and I are justly condemned.
We are receiving what our actions deserve,
but this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said to Jesus,
“Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him,
“Truly, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Jesus did not miraculously release that criminal from execution.
However, in answer to that man’s repentance, humility and faith, Jesus gave him Paradise that same afternoon.
He wants us to leave sin behind now.
He wants us to bring our hearts close to him.
For that we must obey God’s commandments and battle in our hearts against sin.
The death of Jesus shows us that God will spare himself nothing, not even his own dignity, in offering us from out of his own sin-wounded heart the forgiveness of our sins.
Yet, in order to take hold of God’s gift we must forgive those who sin against us, and we must ask God for what he has already offered.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

The merciful heart of God is handed over to us in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.
Let us offer him the closeness of our own hearts, if not with purity, then at least with the honesty of repentance.

That God Be Glorified in All