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 30, 2006

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

Luke 9:43-45

Today the Gospel begins by reporting the amazement of the disciples who have just seen the Lord free a boy from a violent demon.
But then…!
He now tells his disciples something violent that is about to happen to himself.
Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.

Now, their mood of amazement changes to something else.
The Gospel tells us they did not understand what he was telling them, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
Why were they afraid?
This is the second time he has told them he is going to suffer.
The first time, Peter objected, and the Lord told him to get out of his sight, calling him even a “satan.”
Earlier today, the Lord scolded them for their inability to cast out the demon.
O faithless and perverse generation,
how long am I to be with you and bear with you?

So now, no one dares to ask him to explain his talk of his coming suffering.
The Gospel simply says they are AFRAID.
Peter committed no sin in wishing that the Lord should not have to suffer; but for wishing that Peter receives angry words from the Lord: “Get out of my sight, you satan!”
The disciples today committed no sin in being unable to throw out the demon.
Yet the Lord speaks to them with impatience: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?”
Now they are confused by his prediction of his own suffering, and they are AFRAID to ask him to explain.
Perhaps he will only issue them another angry rebuke.
The anger of Jesus is a confusing mystery for his disciples, and it is a reality that is somewhat ignored today by some Christians.
Let us not take the Lord for granted.
He is quite capable of anger.
If we ignore that, then we don’t have a realistic relationship with the real Christ.
If we presume and take for granted the Lord’s mercy, then we bear responsibility for making immorality common and even “normal” among ourselves.
Our present lack of a sense of sin has also deflated for us the Gospel’s sense of wonder and amazement at the majesty of God the Father of Mercies.
Today upon seeing the spiritual power and authority of the Son of God, the Gospel says “all were astonished at the majesty of God.”
Yet they have also seen the anger of the Son of God, and today the Gospel says they were afraid to ask him to explain his prediction of suffering.
Our real Lord exceeds all our preferences.
He is transfigured, and yet he suffers.
He forgives sins, and yet he scolds Peter for wishing him freedom from suffering.
He is the Good Shepherd, but he can also violently eject the sheep and their shepherds out of the temple.
He simply exceeds us, and so in the end we fall down to worship.
God the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son,
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.

Almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 29, 2006

For the Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, 29 September

John 1:47-51

Today in the Gospel, Christ tells a disciple he shall see Christ, the Son of Man, stretched between heaven and earth, with the angels ascending and descending upon Christ as upon a ladder.
However, the angels are not the only ones who cross between heaven and earth.
We human beings also go through Christ who bridges heaven and earth.
The angels, then, accompany us on our way to the Father in Christ.
God sends us the angels as messengers, helpers, guides, spiritual relatives.
An angel announced God’s word to Mary and she conceived of the Holy Spirit, bringing to birth the Son of God by whom angels and men pass between heaven and earth.
Angels announced his birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem, and taught the Church to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to the chosen ones of God.”
The Church again repeats the song of angels each time we sing, “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of Hosts!”
Angels accompanied and served Christ when he fasted and prayed in the desert.
Perhaps it was also angels who tore in two the sacred veil of the temple at the moment Christ was torn from life on the cross.
The Gospel [Mt. 28] tells us an angel tore open the empty tomb to reveal the resurrection of Christ and to preach the first good news of the resurrection:
He is not here.
He has risen as he said.

Angels were present when he ascended into heaven, and they comforted and urged his disciples on by saying:
Men of Galilee,
why do you stand looking into heaven?
This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven,
will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

The Lord himself has told us that he will return to us at the end of time in the company of his angels to lead us into Paradise, where, together with the angels, we will celebrate our salvation and the eternal worship of God.
Angels were present throughout the life and work of Christ.
They are always present in the communion of saints where Christ in his Body–– Christ in his Church–– continues to carry out in us and through us the work of our salvation and the worship of our Almighty Father.
The angels are with us as we make our way to the Father.
They are witnesses and assistants as Christ gives us the name and the inheritance that belong to him as Son of God.
May the angels defend us against evil!
May we imitate them in giving glory now to God our Father!

That God Be Glorified in All

September 28, 2006

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

Luke 9:7-9

No one would ever think of imitating either King Herod or Judas Iscariot.
However, Judas at least suffered remorse for his crime and sank to the depths of despair and suicide.
We may find we could even pity Judas.
King Herod, on the other hand, remains an entirely despicable character.
Nonetheless, Herod’s perplexity and curiosity can remind us that the life and work of Christ were extraordinary— able to capture and hold the attention of a king.
It might be that a daily newspaper catches and holds our attention more than time spent praying in a spirit of wonder and gratitude over our redemption in the life and work of Christ.
Herod had heard that a certain Jesus was going about healing all sorts of disabilities and diseases.
This Jesus had even raised people from the dead.
Some were saying that this miracle worker was the great prophet Elijah returning after hundreds of years; or that he was the resurrected John the Baptist whom Herod himself had murdered.
All this news perplexed Herod.
He was “bent out of shape”, disturbed, amazed.
We have heard the same things Herod heard.
We have heard, we acknowledge, we believe and we venerate even more things concerning Christ than Herod could ever begin to suspect.
How good it would be if only we were more like Herod in being disturbed, bent with amazement, wonder and curiosity.
Christ himself prefers us either hot or cold, but never merely room temperature.
It is completely unnecessary that any human being, animal or thing in the world and in history should exist at all.
None of it and none of us had to be or has to be.
Creation is a mystery of God’s freedom, his will, his grace and his love.
In the face of it, we should be filled with perplexity, amazement, wonder and gratitude.
However, there is even more.
In the face of man’s forgetfulness, rebellion, sin and ingratitude, God freely stooped down to become the slave who with his own life and death both undoes man’s sin and suffering and re-creates man as God’s partner in glory.
That is an even greater mystery of God’s freedom, his will, his grace, his love— a greater mystery that not only did not have to be, but by all rights should NOT have been.
In the face of it, we should be filled with boundless perplexity, amazement, wonder and gratitude.
The mystery of our redemption and glorification through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection is so perplexing, so completely beyond the bounds of our capacity, that we must ultimately surrender and “borrow”, as it were, Christ’s own wondrous gratitude, Christ’s own wonderful sacrifice in order worthily to thank the Father for all that he has done in creating and redeeming us.
Here in the Eucharist, Christ in his personal gratitude and sacrifice is really present.
Here, God re-creates us.
Here, God redeems us.
Here, through Christ, with him and in him we give God fitting honor, glory and thanksgiving for all that he has done for us.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 27, 2006

For Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Ordinary Week of the Church Yeara

Luke 9:1-6

Today in his Gospel the Lord sends out the twelve apostles on a mission through the countryside.
He forbids them to take anything more than the clothes they are already wearing. No luggage, no money, no food, no supplies.
Moreover, he warns them not even to expect success, but simply to abandon any town that rejects them.
However, the Lord sends out the apostles supplied with something money cannot buy and the world cannot give.
What Christ gives comes from himself, from the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Christ gives these twelve heads of the Church the power and authority to overcome all demons, to cure diseases and to proclaim the kingdom of God.
That is all the apostles are to carry with them; and that is all they are to do.
It is infinitely more than enough.
Though they go materially empty-handed, the power, authority and mission Christ gives them is good news that touches both the created material world of bodily disease and health as well as the spiritual world of freedom and demonic affliction.
The power, authority and mission of the apostles frees men bodily and spiritually, because the power and authority are from God, the King, the Lord.
The apostles have nothing to carry or give except what belongs to Christ whose kingship and kingdom the apostles announce.
The apostles have handed down in the Church the same mission of power and authority they received from Christ.
All else in the Church derives from that mission or serves as its vehicle.
The goal of that mission is the glory of God and the eventual full freedom of both the bodies and the spirits of the royal sons and daughters of God.
The glory of God and the freedom of the children of God— freedom in body and spirit!
What we receive in the Church comes from Christ, belongs to Christ and is Christ— Christ offering himself for the glory of the Father and the good of our race.
Take and eat. This is my body.
Take and drink. This is my blood.
Do this in memory of me.

It is simple and clear.
If we do not resist, but we do as he commands, then God will make known in us and in our lives his power and authority, his kingdom, his kingship, his healing, his Gospel and his Holy Spirit.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 26, 2006

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

Luke 8:19-21

Who belongs to the family of the Lord?
He tells us they are those who hear the word of God and do it.
The Gospel does not tell us the Lord simply refused to see or to speak to his mother Mary.
Similarly, we may not presume the Lord did not count his mother Mary as one who hears the word of God and acts on it.
In the Gospel, Mary is the first to say, “Behold the slave of the Lord: be it done unto me according to thy WORD.”
Mary is the first and only one who not only obeyed the Word of God, but also conceived the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, and gave birth to him, thus becoming the Mother of the Word of God in flesh and blood.
Newly gestating the Word of God in the flesh, Mary visits her relative Elizabeth.
The Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth with the Word of God announcing to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
The Son of God himself will declare [cf. Mt. 7:18,20]:
A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit,
nor can a bad tree bear good fruit….
Thus you will know them by their fruits.

By the standard of God himself and the Word of his Gospel, Mary is a blessed hearer, bearer and doer of God’s word.
God is looking for those who will hear his Word and obey it as his mother did.
He also challenges us who would do the same by teaching us:
Whoever would follow me
must deny himself
and take up his cross….
Where I am
there also will my servant be.

When the Lord took up his cross, Mary went after him, and stood at the feet of her crucified Son the Word of God.
Where I am
there also will my servant be.

Mary is a model of obedience, fidelity and love for Christ.
When we celebrate the Liturgy of the Lord, and listen to him in his Holy Gospel, we are seated in the world’s front row as the disciples of Christ.
Here and now, we are the first to hear the Word of God.
Therefore, we are also the first to have an obligation to obey the Word of God.
When we offer, celebrate and receive the Eucharist of the Lord, we are in the front row at the foot of the Cross, even though we look on from the vantage point of the Resurrection.
The Eucharist was consummated on the Cross and glorified in the Resurrection.
We adore you, O Christ,
and we bless you,
for by your holy cross
you have redeemed the world.

Gratitude can move us to obey the Word of God.
The word “gratitude” and the word “grace” have the same root.
Also, the Greek-rooted word “eucharist” is a cousin of “gratitude” and “grace”.
The work of gratitude, grace and the Eucharist involves both a free gift from God and a free return from us.
God’s grace, our gratitude and the Eucharist can draw and move us to follow the cross of Christ, can preserve us as members of the Resurrection, and can count us in as the family of Christ, together with his blessed mother and all the angels and saints who hear and obey the Word of God.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 25, 2006

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

Luke 8:16-18

The parables of the Lord often proclaim some truth or reality, while concealing somewhat the meaning.
Christ himself is the ultimate parable, for his glory and divinity are proclaimed and also concealed in the mystery of his human life, suffering and death.
The shining lamp of Jesus’ divinity was hidden beneath the darkest of beds: the grave.
In his own words in his Gospel today: there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
So, in the resurrection from the grave, the lamp of Christ’s divinity is revealed.
Yet, even then it remains clothed in the mystery of his human flesh now glorified.
The Lord Jesus is a living parable risen from the grave, and he forever proclaims to us, just as he does in his Gospel today: Take care, then, how you hear.
Even in his Eucharist, the Lord is a parable … a parable in the signs of bread broken and wine poured out … a sacrifice offered in eating and drinking … our Creator giving himself as food and drink for his creatures … the invisible God who comes to us in sacred signs.
What we see, touch and taste in these signs can deceive us.
However, what we hear can be safely believed: THIS IS MY BODY … THIS IS MY BLOOD.
These are the words of the Lord.
Faith has given us ears to hear him.
Let us indeed hear him— and hearing him, let us further believe.
Hearing and believing, let us worship and glorify God.
We have come to this temple and this altar to do no less.
The worship of our hearts belongs to God not only here at the altar of this temple, but also at the altar and temple of ORDINARY DAILY LIVING.
Ordinary daily life is also a “liturgy”, a living spiritual sacrifice and an act of faith.
The more we give our ordinary daily living, our hearts and our minds so as to glorify God in all things great and small, all the more will the parable of Christ’s humanity and divinity be revealed and explained in OUR lives, revealed in OUR humanity.
In the measure we LIVE we shall also receive … and more besides.
The more we give ourselves to what faith tells us, the more faith will reveal and give to us.
To those who have, even more will be given.
From those who have not, what little they have will be taken away.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 24, 2006

For the Twenty-Fifth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 9:30-37

Children don’t choose to be the smallest, weakest and most vulnerable members of the human race, but they are.
Adults don’t normally prefer to be small, weak and vulnerable.
Almighty God chose to come down from heaven in flesh and blood, born with all the smallness, weakness and vulnerability of an infant.
In the fullness of his manhood, he completely handed himself over— UNCONDITIONALLY AND WITHOUT LIMIT— to our worst weakness and vulnerability: death— death from torture and murder.
Almighty God who is Love shows on the cross that love has no conditions or limits.
He was not born in flesh and blood just to know earthly splendors and human pleasure— as good as those can be.
He came to take a share even in our suffering and death.
His taking part in human life— his having human flesh, bones and blood, his human joys, his own human suffering and death— his COMPLETE COMMUNION in the total reality of our humanity makes it possible for OUR total humanity to enter into the riches of God himself.
That is what happened when God rose from the dead still personally invested with human flesh and blood, still personally invested with human feeling, thinking and choosing.
Flesh and blood humanity itself— in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ— is seated now at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
When history is finally fulfilled at the return of Christ, we— if we have been faithful— we will each see our own, personal, total humanity receive full communion in the life and glory of God.
Almighty God in Christ has put himself at the bottom out of love for us sinners and our salvation.
The Creator of the Universe served our eternal welfare by dying as a slave and a criminal for our sins.
His crucifixion is the sign that God is Love without any condition, without any limits, without any self-interest.
That is why he teaches us to recognize him in what is small, weak and vulnerable.
Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.
Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.

Ever since God personally suffered human death, those who suffer, who are small, weak and vulnerable are the greatest reminders of what God did for us on the cross.
Yet, they are also much more than signs.
God tells us:
Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the LEAST brothers of mine, YOU DID FOR ME.

If we fail in this, then he goes on to say:
Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.
Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,

Our Lord tells us we can deserve eternal punishment by simple carelessness, forgetfulness or ignorance.
We can deserve eternal fire simply by NEGLECTING those who are small, weak and vulnerable.
All the more if by abortion or euthanasia we DELIBERATELY kill the small, the weak, the vulnerable, the unborn, the sick, the elderly!
Today the Lord says in his Gospel:
Whoever receives one child such as this in my name,
receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.

The smallest, the weakest and the most vulnerable are REPRESENTATIVES of Almighty God who chose the weakness, vulnerability and death of the cross because he is love without limits and without conditions.
Life is difficult.
We suffer.
We die.
If there is a God who is good and almighty, why is there any suffering at all?
As Christians, we do not yet have a solution to the mystery of suffering.
Nonetheless, our faith reminds us that God has given a new meaning to suffering.
The suffering of Christ is a sign of God’s presence, love, power and freedom.
A father and a mother are called to meet and serve the love, power, presence and freedom of God by caring for the lives of their children— even if that brings suffering.
Doing so makes them truly great men and women.
The Lord says:
Whoever receives one child such as this in my name,
receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.

Elsewhere his Gospel says:
He who is least among you all is the one who is great.

To serve and love God, even if it brings us suffering, makes us truly great men and women.
We become signs of God who is love without condition or limit.
God in Christ suffered and died once on the cross.
He remains among us in the form of suffering and death to give life to others.
In the flesh and blood of his Eucharist, God gives himself to us as food and drink.
To feed us and give us life, plants and animals die.
Like plants and animals that die so we may live, God in his Eucharist surrenders himself to us as food and drink.
In the Eucharist, God makes himself small, weak and vulnerable, feeding us with his very self, giving us his greatness, might and immortality.
God without beginning or end, maker of all, chooses to be as the least among us: food and drink.
For us men and for our salvation, he still comes down from heaven.

That God Be Glorified in All