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 28, 2006

For the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, 28 October

Luke 6:12-16
Ephesians 2:19-22.

Today in his Gospel, we see the Lord spend the whole night in prayer before choosing his twelve apostles.
What goes on between the Son of God and his Father in this nightlong prayer, and what has it to do with choosing the twelve men whom Christ sends to us?
Elsewhere in his Gospel, the Son of God tells us he passes to us the love he himself receives from his Father.
Out of a whole night of prayer in communion with his Father, Christ chooses twelve men to be his apostles.
An apostle is simply a man with a mission.
Christ gives to these twelve men a share in his own mission.
Christ’s mission is to invite and enable the world to share in his own intimate knowledge and intimate enjoyment of the Father.
After a whole night of communion with his Father, Christ gives that communion to twelve men, and sends them to bring you and me into it.
So, then, in the words to the Ephesians [cf. 2:19-22], you and I…
are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but … fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles…
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him… [we] also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

That is what we celebrate in the feasts of the apostles.
The letter to the Ephesians [cf. 3:14-15] goes on about this:
I fall on my knees before the Father of Jesus the Lord.
May Christ dwell in your hearts through your faith,
so that, rooted and grounded in love,
you may know and grasp the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ,
and be filled with all the fullness of God.

Saints Simon and Jude and the other men with a mission, lived, spoke and died for the knowledge and joy of sharing the immeasurable fullness of God.
You and I are mortared in place upon the foundation stones, the saints, who themselves are anchored on the bedrock of Christ.
We are already in touch and in communion with all the fullness of God.
Let us bother to keep mindful of that by prayer and sincere worship.
Let us echo and strengthen it in the good we do for others.
Christ himself comes to do good for us in his Eucharistic-Flesh-and-Blood-Communion with all the fullness of the Father.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 27, 2006

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

Luke 12:54-59.

Today in his Gospel our Lord tells the whole crowd of people that they are all hypocrites.
They are smart enough to read the signs of the weather and to avoid penalties in their legal dealings, but they do not recognize in Jesus the presence of God’s key moment of salvation for all of history, all places and all peoples.
Christ Jesus is the ONE sign of the times— the one SIGN OF SIGNS— the one sign for ALL TIMES, ALL PLACES, ALL PEOPLES.
The apostle Paul puts it this way [Eph. 4:1-6].
… one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord,
one faith,
one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word— his Declaration of Salvation— became visible and real in human flesh.
Christ is the visible sign, the perceptible presence and the tangible reality of salvation for us.
The crowds in the Gospel today have the privilege of seeing the sign of Christ with their own eyes.
They can hear his actual voice ringing in their ears.
They can touch his physical body.
Yet they do not understand, interpret or entirely believe the sign of salvation standing before them in flesh and blood.
What about us?
We are two thousand years distant from the event of today’s Gospel.
We are several thousand miles away from the place in today’s Gospel.
Do we have fewer advantages than the crowd in the Gospel today?
Everything that the power of the Spirit made visible in the sacred person of Christ nearly two thousand years ago and several thousand miles away— everything has passed over now into other sacred signs.
The same Spirit, the same hope, the same call, the same Lord, the same faith, the same God and Father of all, the same Christ, the same salvation— everything— is present, tangible and real in the sacred signs of the Liturgy, the Sacraments and the Scriptures of the Church.
We are here now because of those sacred signs.
We are here to beg the power of God’s saving Spirit to work again for us the wonders of salvation.
By the power of the Spirit, God’s Word of Salvation for us is present HERE when the Scriptures and the Gospel are proclaimed.
By the power of the Spirit, God’s Word of Salvation for us is present HERE in the Flesh and Blood of Christ.
The one Spirit we receive at baptism gives us the power of faith that allows us in these signs to see, hear, touch, take, eat, drink and keep in mind the salvation that God sets before us.
We must have faith in these signs, for to have them without believing is hypocrisy.
Believing them, let us offer grateful worship.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 26, 2006

Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 12:49-53

Today in his Gospel, our Lord says his mission is to set the earth on fire.
The Spirit of God is the fire Christ came to light on the earth.
The fire of the Spirit makes us holy.
Our goal is eternal life, and the way there is a fire that sets us free, burns us pure, and takes us away from our slavery to sin.
Our goal, eternal life, requires that the life we already have now be purified, authenticated, restored, freed, awakened, raised up, fulfilled, and reborn.
The word of the Lord to the Romans puts it thus:
now that you have been freed from sin
and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have is sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.

The process of sanctification, the work of being made holy, is a
fire that Christ sets.
I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!

To burn with God’s holy fire is first of all to believe— to acknowledge that Christ is the Son of God in Flesh and Blood who comes to redeem us.
He had no need to be made holy, but he freely burned himself walking up the road of holiness to open it up for us, to blaze the trail for us.
If we choose to believe him and follow him, that will divide us from those who do not believe and follow him.
However, the division that Christ has come to bring must also take place inside each of us.
Each of us is divided between sin and God.
The Father, Christ, and the Spirit lead, teach, help and enable us to cross the divide.
The crossing is a cross, a crucifixion.
Christ knew it, and that is what he says today.
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!

Having come to the Church at this hour— or long before, at baptism— you and I have set foot already on the road behind Christ.
He is only a few steps and a few moments ahead of us … in his Eucharist.
In his Flesh and Blood Christ freely chooses to be the slave of our salvation and the slave of the Father’s glory.
We come to eat and drink Christ in his Eucharist.
Then we too must choose to be servants in our own sanctification and servants of the Father’s glory.
Christ is our trailblazing pioneer, and so are his witnesses, the saints.
The Letter to the Hebrews [12:1-2] tells us how to live the Eucharist of Christ.
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight,
and [lay aside] sin which clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

If we want to be with him for eternal life, we need to catch fire.
Rather, we already have fire in us, for God gives it in baptism.
We need only to serve as willing fuel for that fire, to burn brightly with the glory of God giving light to the world.
We fan the flames with prayer, worship of God, and service to neighbors.
The same holy fire blazes most purely in the Eucharist.
It invites, exhorts and enables us to jump in.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 25, 2006

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

Luke 12:39-48

What Christ says today is ominous, and St. Peter asks, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
St. Peter seems to want to avoid the issue, because he asked his question right after the Lord said, “YOU also must be prepared, for at an hour YOU do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
My believer!
My disciple!
YOU, be prepared!
I am coming back when YOU do not expect.
Like a thief breaking into YOUR house,
I am going to surprise YOU.

The Lord is aiming his words at Christians.
He is putting out a challenge.
When St. Peter’s question appears to calculate whether the challenge is for disciples or not, the Lord answers him with something MORE severe than before.
If I, the Master,
return to find you behaving irresponsibly and offensively,
I shall punish you.
You shall receive a severe beating.

Today we have an uncomfortable and severe Gospel.
Just the same, let us keep in mind that God has promised we shall inherit the untold and endless riches of Christ.
Indeed, in the Eucharist of Christ today and everyday we eat and drink untold and endless riches in the Flesh and Blood of Christ himself.
The Eucharist is endlessly greater than anything else in creation.
As he entrusts his unspeakable wealth to us in his Eucharist today, let us also take to heart his Gospel today.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 24, 2006

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

Luke 12:35-38

Servants watching for their Lord’s return are careful to complete whatever work he gave them before his departure.
Waiting for the Lord is also a description of prayer.
To wait in prayer is to be aware that something necessary and desirable is lacking to us, and that it comes in the person of the Lord.
The Lord in his Gospel tells us to be on the lookout for him, expecting him, staying awake for him, searching and hoping for him.
Christ told us that he would be with us always, but also that he would return one day for us to see him eye to eye— not merely in spiritual vision, but also with our flesh and blood eyeballs.
The Eucharist is one way that he is really with us always.
It is also his ever-present returning.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
[he will] have them recline at table,
and [he himself will] proceed to wait on them.

In the Eucharist, Christ the Master waits on his own servants.
In the Eucharist, even though he comes among us as one who serves, he remains both the standard and the judge of our service.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.

As the standard of our service, Christ in his Eucharist freely places himself utterly at our disposal, ready to be consumed for our good.
Yet, in this he is also already our judge, for he measures us by what we freely dare to receive.
When we receive him in his Eucharist, we hand ourselves into his judgment.
Yet, our Divine Judge, who is “Almighty-in-His-Love”— Innocent and Pure— steals a place among the guilty who have been condemned by their own choices.
He freely took our guilt upon himself, and freely chose to be condemned in our place.
He, the Lord, freely chose to be pierced and pinned by the nails of the cross.
He, the Master, freely chose to be cut, stabbed open by the blade of the lance.
He freely chose to be punished in our stead.
He, our God, freely chose the sinner’s death.
This is He who comes as Judge in the Eucharist, pronouncing not merely a judgment of mercy, but one of SUBSTITUTION:
he freely chooses to stand in our place—
holy and obedient—
to suffer our punishment,
so that we might stand together with him in HIS place—
holy and obedient—
and have a share in his freedom and glory as newly freeborn sons and daughters of the Father.
So it is that in the Eucharist we also rise with Him from the dead.
It is as the Risen and Returned One that He tells us who are already in Him:
Be watchful and ready!
I am already here.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 23, 2006

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

Luke 12:13-21

Today in his Gospel, our Lord gives us a lesson about what is most important— a lesson about being rich in what matters to God.
He made us in his image.
That means that while we ARE physical bodies needing food, clothing and shelter, we are also MORE than bodies.
It means that while we are also a complex of emotions and intellect needing enrichment and cultivation, we are still more than that.
We are SPIRIT.
We are spirit like God, spirit created by God.
We are created images of God.
It is SPIRIT that makes, completes and authenticates our humanity.
Because we ARE spirit, we CAN rise above our bodily needs by delaying or setting aside their satisfaction when necessary— and even when not necessary.
Unless we learn to do that, we never grow up.
Growing up concerns not just the needs of the body, but also the needs of the mind and the emotions.
Because we are spirit, we are also able to delay or set aside the satisfying of our intellectual and emotional needs.
Unless we learn to do also that, we never mature.
Ultimately, this all means that the human spirit that God created can only reach maturity and fulfillment by saying yes to what is BEYOND and GREATER THAN bodily, intellectual and emotional wellbeing and satisfaction.
Our spirits were made FOR God.
Our spirits were made BY God.
Our spirits were made LIKE God.
So, we will have no rest or final satisfaction except IN God.
Ordinary daily living always requires some degree of self-denial and hard-working discipline.
Discipline of our body, our thoughts and our feelings, particularly when such discipline goes beyond the ordinary in the form of active asceticism, penances and mortification— that kind of discipline can only be justified and IS justified by the fact that we are LIVING SPIRITS.
To recognize and obey the fact that we are spirits is not only to recognize and obey our true human nature.
It is also to recognize and obey God’s kingship and justice.
Unless we do that, unless we seek first God’s kingship and justice, we are in danger of making food, clothes, money, learning and good feelings into IDOLS— false gods that stand above us as our masters, reducing us to a slavery that is less than truly human.
We cannot serve such masters and at the same time be free for God or for ourselves.
However, if we truly acknowledge and pursue the kingdom of God— the kingdom where our own spirits RULE together with God— then all the rest will at least be in its proper place— perhaps not in satisfying measure until the final resurrection, but at least everything will be in its proper place, instead of in the place of God.
Only in that way can we ever begin to be satisfied and complete.
If we seek first the kingdom of God and his holy justice, then REAL satisfaction will finally be ours forever— together with the immeasurable, everlasting treasure of heaven.

That God Be Glorified in All