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.

November 11, 2006

For Saturday of the Thirty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 16:9-15

Today in his Gospel, our Lord tells us four proverbs about the practical use of this world’s goods.
The first of these proverbs teaches us honesty and faithfulness in all things great and small.
The second proverb amplifies the first.
If we cannot be honest and faithful in earthly matters, how can we be trusted with the holy treasure of the kingdom of God?
The third proverb is that if we are not trustworthy in dealing with the possessions of others, we will be denied what would have belonged to us in the kingdom of God.
The fourth proverb sums up the others.
Either we are the friends and servants of God by way of generosity, honesty and fidelity, or we are the slaves of greed and infidelity.
Besides generosity, honesty and fidelity in our use of the world’s goods, today the Lord also tells us that for the children of light who belong to God, there remains one other shrewd, necessary, mandatory and holy use of earthly goods.
That is to give them away for the benefit of others.
In this way we serve God and not something that is beneath our human dignity.
Anytime we receive a teaching from Christ, he has already shown us how to live it.
The Lord tells us, “I am the Way.”
He may teach us the way through the spoken words of parables and proverbs, but he himself is the way and the word of God.
The Eucharist is the way and the word by which he chooses to teach us.
Take these all of you.
Eat and drink them.
These are my body and my blood in the new and eternal covenant.
They will be given up and shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

He does not give up mere external possessions alone.
He gives up his very self unto death to make an all-embracing covenant with us and for us, a covenant that breaks the brokenness of all other covenants, a death that kills the brokenness that is sin.
He makes this new and eternal covenant IN himself— even in his flesh and blood— but he does not make this covenant FOR himself.
This is my body that I give up for YOU.
This is my blood that I shed for YOU.

Then he makes the awful invitation that we should imitate him.
Do this in memory of me.

Do this with our minds full of him: give up our bodies and our blood for the good of the world and the glory of God our Father.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 10, 2006

For Friday of the Thirty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 16:1-8

Today the Lord tells of men, each twisted in some way.
A twisted steward squanders his master’s property, gets caught and is about to receive the boot.
As if that were not enough, the twisted steward then calls in those who owe his master, and he buys their favor.
He helps them twist the facts in their own favor by writing new promise notes with false, lower amounts, squandering his master’s property still more.
Then, the master also twists.
After first calling for the books from his twisted steward before booting him, now he pats him on the back for both dishonesty and additional squandering.
Then, Christ tops it off by telling us that twisted men of the darkened world are brighter at getting ahead in the world’s darkness than the sons of light are at growing brighter in the sight of Christ the Light of the World.
You and I are stewards of Christ our God, stewards of Christ and all his wealth that we swallow in the Eucharist.
We are in utter debt to God who creates, rescues and makes us holy.
We have not only squandered and we not only continue to squander the riches that God has entrusted and continues to entrust to us.
We are entirely unable to begin restoring what we have squandered.
Has God cancelled or at least reduced our debt?
Instead, he has done two things.
First, he took on and paid off the debt with his own life, suffering and death.
Then, by the most twisted of twists, he turned death into life, personally becoming the new creation of the human race and the final glory of the human race.
In his love, on his cross, in his resurrection, in the Spirit and in his Eucharist, Christ is the new promise note in person, in flesh and blood, squandering his very self on us again and again.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 09, 2006

For the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, 9 November

John 2:13-22

A pagan Roman basilica was an audience hall with a throne.
In the imperial basilicas, Romans offered worship to the emperor in person or to his statue.
In the year of our Lord 313, the emperor Constantine decreed freedom for the Christian faith.
Constantine’s wife, Fausta Lateran, had given her family’s palace and basilica to Constantine as her wedding dowry.
Constantine now gave the Lateran palace and basilica to the pope.
In the name of Christ the Lord, the Church “invaded” the imperial basilica, purged it of imperial idolatry, and renamed it “The Church of Our Most Holy Savior.”
Christ, his Father and the Holy Spirit now claimed all worship in this former temple of Caesar.
The Gospel of Christ now rang out in Rome’s first Christian basilica— even today’s very Gospel— Christ declaring his lordship over the basilica, too: “MY Father’s house.”
The Church is the House of OUR Father.
God the Father has received us into it as his sons and daughters.
Together with Christ, each of us may lay claim to the Church as “MY Father’s house.”
Today in his Gospel, Christ teaches us that the Church is also his Body.
His own Immortal Flesh already embraces our own mortal bodies.
His own Healing Blood is already married to our wounded nature.
Christ the Son of God claims each of us and all together as his own Body.
Zeal for US consumes the Son of God, and he fights to drive from us, as from his own body, the disease and commerce of sin.
The Church is also the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Each one of us in the Church is also a temple of the Holy Spirit.
The FATHER sends the SPIRIT of his SON into our hearts.
From within our hearts, the SPIRIT sends up the SON’S cry of “ABBA— FATHER!” into the heart of the FATHER. [See Galatians 4:6.]
This is what Saint Paul says [see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17].
You are the temple of God…
the Spirit of God dwells in you…
the temple of God,
which you are,
is holy

In his own Flesh and Blood, the Son of God would charge into each of our hearts as into his own holy temple.
May his loving zeal for the Father’s house consume us, and may our own repentance and faith work with him to drive the commerce of sin from our lives.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 08, 2006

For Wednesday of the Thirty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 14:25-33

The Gospel opens today with the report that great crowds were traveling with Jesus.
Then, as if Jesus were trying to scare away the crowd, he starts to tell them the exorbitant demands for following him.
He literally says his disciple must hate his own life and his own family.
A disciple of Jesus must willingly accept suffering.
A disciple of Jesus must be prepared to pay the complete cost of following Jesus.
If a man believes he cannot pay the price, then he ought not follow Jesus.
It seems too much to ask.
However, do not a man and a woman who have fallen deeply in love with each other happily promise similar, exorbitant loyalty to each other?
As he makes demands today, Jesus is speaking as God himself.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind
and with all your strength.

However, Jesus does the same for us.
By taking up his cross and handing himself over to us in his Eucharist, Jesus reveals to us that the Lord our God in human flesh and blood loves us with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind and with all his strength.
He gives himself exorbitantly to us.
Do we follow?
Do we reciprocate?

That God Be Glorified in All

November 07, 2006

For Tuesday of the Thirty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 14:15-24

Our Lord’s parable today makes two points among others.
First: many are called— God has thrown open worldwide the doors of his house.
Second: not all accept the invitation.
The first point is that God does his part.
The second point is that he leaves us responsible for doing ours.
We must always keep these two points together.
In the history of the Church, perhaps every heresy in spirituality or morality involves the partial or complete denial of one of these two points.
God does his part, and leaves us responsible for doing ours.
How do we prepare for happiness in the banquet of the kingdom, and can we enjoy any of it now?
We prepare for happiness in the banquet of the kingdom by setting priorities.
When God invites, we leave everything to follow him.
When God commands, we leave everything to obey him.
When God promises, we leave everything to believe and hope in his promises.
Can we begin to enjoy the banquet of the kingdom right now?
Yes— again— by setting priorities.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul,
all your heart,
all your mind,
and all your strength.

In Christ, we recognize that God lavishes on us what is better than anything else: he lavishes on us his very own self.
“For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven.”
We begin to enjoy the fullness of God only by imitating him, by handing ourselves over to him in return.
“For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven.”
So, for God’s sake and for his glory, we work our way on the road to heaven’s banquet.
Only faith dares to risk such an exchange.
We are free to reject the offer God makes us in his Gospel.
If we turn down God’s invitation, the alternatives do not offer much that is genuine or lasting.
The world just as it is offers in itself no real or permanent foundation for hope, trust or love.
We may try to escape through seeking pleasure and distraction that avoid looking either beneath or above the surface of anything.
Only the risk of faith in the Gospel lays a foundation for lasting and honest happiness.
Here in the Eucharist, we are about to take that risk.
Here in the Eucharist, God opens for us the doors of the royal wedding banquet of heaven.
He sends out his servants, the angels, the saints and ordinary members of the Church to search for us.
He searches us out in the streets, highways, alleys and fields of our lives.
He searches for us in the poverty of our sins.
He searches for us when we are spiritually maimed, blind and lame.
Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town,
and bring in here the poor and the crippled,
the blind and the lame.

Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in
that my home may be filled.

He certainly expects us to be eager for his invitation.
We must take hold of what God freely offers, and count no other relationship, possession or activity so important that we cannot set it aside at the invitation of God.
At this very minute we are attending the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb of God.
If we attend with hope, with faith and with love, treasuring, obeying, imitating and living out what we receive, we shall also celebrate it forever in the unending life to come.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 06, 2006

For Monday of the Thirty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 14:12-14

Today in his Gospel, our Lord tells a man to spend his hospitality on those who cannot return the favor or repay him in any way at all.
In this way, he will receive his reward in the resurrection of the just.
That is a rather simple lesson.
However, it is difficult for us, because we are limited.
We have real needs, and our own resources for meeting them are not inexhaustible.
Yet, the Lord tells us to give of ourselves without looking for compensation.
If we were to follow this teaching word for word in every aspect of our lives, we would most likely die.
That is what happened to our Lord on earth.
He gave everything for us who cannot fully repay him— and do not fully want to.
In the beginning, God brought us into being from out of nothing.
He did not need us, but freely gave us a share in his own being.
We can do nothing really to pay him back; and he needs nothing from us at all.
Our best cannot begin to equal the gift of God.
So it is we “borrow,” as it were, the Eucharist— we borrow the THANKSGIVING of the Son of God— not our own, never-sufficient thanksgiving, but the Thanksgiving of God the Eternal Son.
In his Sacrificial Banquet, where Christ is himself the Banquet, the Host and the Open Door, Christ receives us into himself, and in himself he brings us to the Father as a perfect and saving act of thanksgiving and glory.
We are the ones whom Christ in his Gospel today calls the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind that the Lord has invited to his banquet.
As Christ offers up his life to the Father, the Father gives the Spirit and Life in resurrection to Christ.
In the surpassing wonder and mystery of his charity, Christ chose to receive HIS personal reward of resurrection in OUR name and in OUR humanity.
In that way:
he makes beggars rich with his own divinity;
he gives the glorious light of his divinity to the blind;
and he bestows the fullness of his divinity on the crippled and lame.
We will spend eternity— we will need eternity— just to begin giving proper thanks.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 05, 2006

For the Thirty-First Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 12:28-34

Today in the Gospel, we hear an expert in Jewish religious laws ask the Lord a simple question.
Which is the first of all the commandments?

There were several hundred obligatory Jewish commandments.
These were generally divided up between the greater commandments and the lesser commandments.
Just about anyone could have answered the expert that the first commandment is to love the Lord God with your whole being.
In comparison with that particular commandment, all the rest are relatively lesser commandments.
However, rather than leave the lawyer and us to understand that all the rest of the commandments are merely secondary, the Lord adds two other details.
First he says there is a second commandment ranking immediately after the first.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Finally he says there is no commandment greater than those two.
The Gospel tells us that the lawyer today expressed admiration for the Lord’s answers, and exclaimed that to obey those two commands is worth much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Noting the lawyer’s understanding, the Lord tells him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God”.
Love of God and love of neighbor are above any merely external worship of God.
Less than fifty years after our Lord offered his self-sacrifice on the cross, Judaism chose to stop its ancient practice of ritual sacrifices and burnt offerings because the Romans destroyed the great Temple of Jerusalem.
From the standpoint of our faith in Christ, this end of Jewish liturgical sacrifice is a tragedy, but a tragedy that took place after the obedient self-sacrifice of Christ in whom all sacrifices and all commandments have their fulfillment.
Christ fulfilled the commands to love God and neighbor by offering himself up in his own sacrificial and redemptive death on the cross.
His sacrificial death for the glory of the Father and the ransom of the world continues to be present and real in his Eucharist.
In his death on the cross and in his Eucharist, Christ’s undying love and his sacrificial worship are one and the same thing.
With this extreme of loving self-sacrifice, Jesus’ love for the Father goes unimaginably far beyond all the cost and strength of the animal sacrifices and burnt offerings that God asked of ancient Israel.
In the Eucharist, Christ himself in his sacrificial death is present— a sacrificial death in which he gave loving worship to the Father and by which he brought loving salvation to us.
In the Eucharist, we have the absolute beginning, foundation and fulfillment of love for God and neighbor.
Between the beginning of love and the fulfilling of love, there are many steps and details to work out in our daily living.
But we can never do better than to begin and to end here with the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is both the deepest fountain and the highest mountain of love and worship.
God is offered up for us here in the flesh and blood of Christ; and our own humanity is perfectly available for God in the flesh and blood of Christ.
The Eucharist of Christ is absolute love and absolute worship.

That God Be Glorified in All