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.

October 07, 2006

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

Luke 10:17-24

Today Christ tells us he is the one in whom and from whom we can receive the full knowledge of God.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is
except the Father,
and who the Father is
except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

Christ Jesus as Son of God and as a man— he has and is full knowledge of the Father.
How may we come to know and experience Christ fully, so that we come to know and experience God fully?
God takes the first step.
He chooses those to whom he reveals himself.
He chooses those who follow his own example in Christ.
God the eternal Son chose to lower or humble himself by becoming a man.
As such, he can be understood— or known— only by the humble, lowly, open-hearted, childlike ones whom he always seeks and chooses.
He came and still comes to reveal to us himself, his Father and their shared Spirit of union whenever we open our hearts and empty them for him, to receive him in childlike simplicity and humility.
Even after God has taken the first step in making himself known to us, and after we have responded, it is he who fulfills, consummates and forever renews himself in us.
Nonetheless, God’s perpetual initiative requires our perpetual readiness and response.
Through the flesh and blood of the Son we receive knowledge of the Father and union with him in the Spirit.
That is God’s initiative.
For our part, we must have faith and open hearts, lifted up to the Lord in simplicity, lowliness, sincerity and truth.
The apostle St. Paul wrote for the Corinthians [1 Cor. 5:7,8] that:
Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed—
in flesh and blood.
Therefore, let us celebrate
with the unleavened bread that is sincerity and truth.

That is our mission and our salvation.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 06, 2006

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That God Be Glorified in All

For Friday of the Twenty-Sixth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 10:13-16

The Lord’s Gospel tells us he began his public preaching with this message:
The time is fulfilled.
The kingdom of heaven—
the kingdom of God—
is near.
It is at hand.
Repent and believe in the Gospel!

These few words contain the essential themes of the invitation Christ makes to all of us:
the fulfillment of time;
the insistent presence of God’s kingdom,
the kingdom of heaven;
repentance and faith in the Gospel.

The Lord’s public life and ministry were not restricted to preaching.
His preaching was also accompanied by mysterious and astounding deeds that demonstrated the arrival and the power of God’s kingdom.
He had spiritual authority to cast out demons.
He had physical power to cure diseases.
He was able to give the same authority and power to his disciples.
He made five loaves of bread and two fish increase into enough to feed more than five thousand men.
The kingdom of God, announced by Christ and powerfully present in his own person, calls out to us with promises, signs and acts of power and authority, changing the world by driving out demons, curing diseases and creating abundant food where little was to be had.
However, the Lord has more in mind than changing the world by himself and his own power and authority.
He wants us to participate and cooperate in being ourselves changed.
Repent, repent and believe in the Gospel!

Go and sin no more!

Quite often in his Gospel, the Lord transforms and heals afflicted bodies and persons by saying without any invitation to do so, “Your sins are forgiven.”
In spite of the his earnest message, his demonstrated spiritual authority and his signs of power, his call to repentance from sin went and still goes unheeded.
There is no faith, no hope and no love for Christ and his Gospel where there is no repentance from sin, even among us who call ourselves Christians.
If we do not turn away from sin, then we turn away from the kingdom of God.
Today in his Gospel the Lord dramatically declares that if we turn away from the kingdom of God, we will go to the netherworld, the kingdom of death.
What proof does the Lord offer that this shall indeed happen?
Not much!
In fact, his own destiny appears to have contradicted him.
He suffered a criminal’s death, and we affirm in our faith that he even descended into the depths, into the netherworld.
In the mystery of the Lord’s crucifixion, we hear words that horrify us with an intimation that even before his actual death, the Lord took to himself the suffering of those in the netherworld.
My God!
Why have you abandoned me?

But, what of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead?
Is it a proof that the kingdom of God awaits those who believe?
It is a proof only if it is met by our faith.
Faith is the proof itself.
Repent and believe in the Gospel!

If we do not believe the testimony of the Scriptures and the Gospel, then we will not believe even if Christ risen from the dead should appear before us.
There are many, even among those who call themselves Christians, who dismiss the resurrection of Christ as a mere apparition, a pious fiction or even a lie.
Unfortunately, together with the dismissal of the resurrection must go the dismissal of much of the Gospel and the testimony of the apostles in the New Testament.
Here the circle is complete.
If we reject the simple testimony of the apostles present in the Church’s Scriptures and Gospels, then we reject the testimony of Christ himself.
If we reject Christ, we reject God and the kingdom of God.
With that, the Lord in his Gospel tells us today, we “will go down to the netherworld.”
The Eucharist and the Forgiveness of Sins remain as two of the mighty works that Christ continues in our midst in his Church.
They are signs inviting us to repentance and to faith.
They are signs that promise and fulfill for us the kingdom of God.
What proof do they offer for this claim?
Thomas the apostle got to stick his own fingers into the hellish wounds of the Living Resurrected Proof in Person.
But conviction prompted by physical proof counts for little in the eyes of the Lord.
The Risen Lord chided Thomas.
Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet believe.

Here and now in the Eucharist, the Lord continues to provide wondrous signs.
Even in the Eucharist he reserves special blessing for those whose faith demands no proofs.
Repent and believe!

That God Be Glorified in All

October 05, 2006

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

Luke 10:1-12

This is the second time in nine days that we see our Lord sending out his disciples on a preaching mission.
First, he sent out the twelve apostles.
Today he sends out thirty-six pairs of other disciples.
He sends them ahead into every town and place that he himself is about to visit.
They are to announce in these places that the kingdom of God is near.
It is Christ himself who is near.
He is the nearness of the kingdom of God.
He is EMMANUEL, “God-with-Us.”
These thirty-six pairs of missionaries are scouts preparing the way for Christ.
If a town rejects them, they are to abandon it— nonetheless proclaiming as they leave that the King is near.
The Lord sends disciples ahead of himself.
Not only that.
He tells his disciples to pray for more disciples to share the work.
The harvest is abundant
but the laborers are few.

Throughout his twenty centuries, the Lord sends the Church ahead of himself, to announce that Christ the King is near.
The Church always prays for more heralds of the King.
This prayer is not just for vocations to the priesthood.
It is a prayer for an increase in the number of believers, who are all to proclaim with their lives the presence of Christ the King.
Even as a few specks of mere salt change the flavor of an entire dish, so the lives of Christians ought to make known in the world the presence of God-with-Us.
He sends all of us.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.

He, too, came as a Lamb in the midst of wolves.
He still comes as a Lamb in the midst of wolves.
He still is the Lamb of God, Christ the King in flesh and blood.
In his Eucharist he is God-with-Us.
He is a Lamb— and one sent to be devoured by wolves to take away the sins of the WOLVES.
We are wolves, for we are sinners.
It is the greatest of paradoxes that while our sins make us guilty of the blood of the Lamb, that same bloodied Lamb is the necessary price of our forgiveness.
The Eucharist is peace and joy incarnate whereby God in his flesh and blood is really with us.
Yet, if it is to be our peace and joy, it must also inspire us to constant repentance.
He tells us it is his body and blood given up and shed for us that our sins may be forgiven.
If he comes to us in his Eucharist, but we do not turn from our sins, then we are worse off than salt gone flat.
Then his final warning today against a town that does not turn to the kingdom of God shall apply to us.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.

To such a fate, proclaimed in the Gospel today, we have already assented by speaking the words, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.”
Christ the King— the Divine Word, Emmanuel, the Eucharist— the Kingdom of God is near.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 04, 2006

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

Luke 9:57-62

What we witness in the Lord’s Gospel today takes place on the road as he makes his last journey to Jerusalem.
He has told his followers more than once that he is going to be handed over for execution.
He knows that the time for that is now drawing near, so, as his Gospel told us yesterday:
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he RESOLUTELY DETERMINED to journey to Jerusalem.

He is “resolutely determined” to meet the final labor of glory and salvation awaiting him in the city.
It is with this mindset that the he answers the three volunteers who offer themselves to him today.
The first one hears that to follow the Lord in the kingdom of God he will have no place to call home.
The other two hear that to follow the Lord in the service of the kingdom of God they must abandon both the living and the dead among their loved ones without so much as a farewell.
He compares the work of the kingdom of God to plowing a field.
If a man is working a plow, but turns around to look back, his work will be crooked.
The plow will wander, not going where it’s supposed to go, nor doing what it’s supposed to do.
No one who puts his hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind
is fit for the Kingdom of God.

The Lord has set his face on the work that lies ahead in Jerusalem.
There, in Flesh and Blood, he will give glory to the Father and bring salvation to the world.
He has set his face on love for the Father and love for the world.
He approaches us now in the Flesh and Blood of the Eucharist, set on the same love for the glory of the Father and the salvation of the world.
Here in his Flesh and Blood, he never turns back.
Here in his Eucharist he hands over to us his own immeasurable fitness for the kingdom of God.
As we approach him in his Flesh and Blood, our “Amen” demands that we share his intention, set on giving glory to the Father and bringing salvation to the world.
Only in this way can we begin to be fit for the Kingdom of God.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 03, 2006

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

Luke 9:51-56

Today the Lord’s Gospel declares that:
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he RESOLUTELY DETERMINED to journey to Jerusalem.

It is not clear whether the reference to our Lord’s being “taken up” means the Cross on the one hand or the Resurrection and Ascension on the other.
As our Lord resolutely sets his face toward Jerusalem, we recognize in the name of that city both the place where he was lifted up on the Cross as well as the place where he was raised up from the dead.
Yet, even now as the “Glorious One Risen from the Dead and Taken up into Glory,” the Lord’s human body is still resolutely set with the marks he received in Jerusalem.
The hands and feet of the Risen One still declare that he is also the Crucified.
In these wounds, these marks of death, we can recognize that, except for sin, he who was born of Mary in Bethlehem was and is everything that we are even unto our human suffering and death.
He knows us unto death.
Yet, these signs, these marks of death that he received in Jerusalem also proclaim that he is divine, that he is God.
For God is Love; and Love in the absolute is always the giving up and the giving away of oneself.
Once this God who is Love became a man of real flesh and blood, he revealed that he is God and that God is love by giving up and giving away everything that he is as a man— right down to the giving up and giving away of his own human life through the breaking of his body and the outpouring of his blood on the cross.
His hands, his feet and his side were marked in death at Jerusalem.
These wounds of God who is Man in Christ Jesus are the badges of his love for us.
He has resolutely set his face in the expression of his love for us.
The Eucharist as well is a sign that the Lord first gave us in Jerusalem.
It was also for this sacrament that the Lord resolutely set his face to go to Jerusalem.
In this sacrament of his body broken for us and his blood poured out for us, he reveals himself as marked and wounded with the signs of his love for us.
Through the Eucharist, he gives himself up and gives himself away to us and for us, since he is God who is love.
In our communion with God through the Eucharist, we, too, resolutely set our faces, choosing to be lifted up with Christ on the cross.
In God’s communion with us through the Eucharist, he, too, resolutely sets his face, choosing to take us up with himself in the glory of the Resurrection.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 02, 2006

For the Memorial of the Guardian Angels, October 2

Matthew 18:1-5,10

“Angel” is from the Biblical Greek word for “messenger”.
Jesus speaks of his little ones having angels— messengers— in heaven who always look upon the face of the heavenly Father.
The Word of the Lord also tells us God sends these messengers to guard us as we follow Christ to the Father.
Messengers, guardians, 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.
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 favored 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.

When Christ ascended into heaven, angels were present to tell his followers:
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.

Jesus told us he will return 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— carries on 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 through the same Body and Blood of Christ that the angels worship in heaven!

That God Be Glorified in All

October 01, 2006

For the Twenty-Sixth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 9:38-48

The word “Gospel” means “good news.”
Jesus gives us some good news today.
However, he spends more time today on bad news.
The apostles have seen a man invoking the name of Jesus to cast out demons.
The apostles wanted the man to “cut it out” because he doesn’t hang out with them and Jesus.
Jesus tells them to let the man be.
He might not be a formal member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, but the Lord Jesus tells the apostles:
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.

In the eyes of the Lord Jesus, such a person even has a reward coming.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

Let’s turn that around, a little sideways or even upside down.
Do I know a fellow Christian that I refuse to give a drink of water to, or that I even refuse to talk to?
If so, I might in the end find the Lord turning his own words today upside down or sideways on me.
Amen, I say to you,
you will surely lose your reward.

What will “losing your reward” be like?
This is where Jesus starts to lay on the bad news real thick.
Today and at other times throughout his Gospel, Jesus teaches about a place of eternal punishment.
Today he describes it as a place where the thirsty fires and hungry worms never die.
He tells us to pluck out our eyes and cut off our hands and feet, rather than sin and end up in eternal loss and pain.
It’s high drama in the Gospel today.
Jesus is dead serious about our avoiding sin.
We can sin by preventing others from doing good.
That’s what the apostles tried to do to the man invoking the name of Jesus to cast out demons.
We can do evil ourselves— with our eyes, our actions and even with our thoughts.
In the very middle of today’s Gospel, there is one other kind of sin.
Jesus says:
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.

Jesus says I’d be better off to be killed rather than to lead a fellow Christian into sin.
Jesus is letting us have it with the bad news today.
He’s fighting for us.
He loves us, and even died fighting for us.
He would rather see us suffer mutilation than to be lost to him forever through our sins.
God wants to give himself to us forever.
If the Son of God had simply ascended into heaven with his human body intact, but without having suffered and died, that would have been pretty grand.
If he had ascended into heaven without first dying and rising, we could still speak of human nature and the human body now being seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
If he had ascended without first dying and rising, we could still look forward to Jesus at the right hand of the Father as the first harvest and the guarantee of our own human destiny.
However, one immeasurably important reality would be missing.
If the Son of God had come to earth without ever suffering death, then we could ask, “How real is his love?”
“How close to us was he really willing to get?”
The real, historical, human death of the Son of God shows that Love-in-Person sets no boundaries or conditions to its total self-giving.
Except for committing sin, God in Christ took a complete share in our human reality, even a complete share in the worst thing that happens to a human being on earth: innocent death by murder.
Though he never sinned, the Son of God on earth personally entered into full communion— not just with the splendors and joys of human life— the Son of God on earth entered into full communion with us for better AND for worse— IN THE GOOD AND IN THE WORST, YES, COMMUNION WITH US EVEN IN DEATH.
Having died as a man, God then rose from the dead into glory, but STILL INCARNATE AS A HUMAN BEING.
NOW the communion is completely shared.
God in Christ came from the heights of heaven into the human race and hit the absolute bottom.
Now our own humanity— in the resurrection and ascension of Christ— our own humanity has gone up from the miserable deep— our own humanity has gone up on high into God himself.
The communion that God has chosen to enter into with us is complete.
He fought and died and rose for complete communion between himself and us.
The same complete communion between God and us is the priceless gift that he lets us eat and drink in the Eucharist.
He offers himself in the Eucharist as less than a slave.
God in the Eucharist gives himself as food for sinners.
What a sign and reality of love setting no boundaries or conditions in giving himself!
The Eucharist is also “gospel”— good news.
No wonder Jesus began his preaching by saying:
have a change of heart and mind—
repent and believe in the Gospel!

Do whatever it takes to repent— even if it costs you an eye, a hand or a foot!

That God Be Glorified in All