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 18, 2006

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

Luke 18:1-8

Two weeks from today will be the last day of the Church calendar year.
As the Lord comes to us in his Gospel during these final days, he speaks often of the end of time when he will return to judge the living and the dead, and to give vindication to his chosen ones.
Today he says he will look for and recognize his chosen ones by their faith.
We can express our faith in words, as we do in the Creed.
However, the Creed and our faith are dead in us unless they at least begin to cost us in the way we live, the attitudes we maintain, the decisions we make and the actions we carry out.
We need to cultivate a living faith that the Lord will find worthy of vindicating at the end.
Today he tells us this comes about through persistent and relentless PRAYER, never losing heart, but fearing God and having regard for our fellow men.
Today the Lord gives the example of a complaining widow who dares to risk provoking a judge to anger.
She dares to cause him annoyance and discomfort.
She is daring, persistent and relentless.
Such prayer is not easy or comfortable, or comforting.
Like the complaining widow, prayer recognizes nothing has more value for us than to receive vindication from God.
Prayer dares to stand before God who has the right to turn a deaf ear and to refuse.
As we pray, we are mindful that God made us out of nothing, and, if he does not act for us, we have and are nothing.
Prayer presses the case like a widow making a display of her poverty.
Prayer unveils its own emptiness before God.
“Give us THIS day our daily bread.”
Give us NOW what will satisfy us FOREVER.
If God does not act, we lose everything.
On the other hand, if we do not stand up to press the case he will not force the issue— BUT NEITHER WILL HE DISMISS THE CASE IN THE END.
We heard him ask us today, “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
A life of prayer and faith hands itself over to the work and the judgment of God.
A life of prayer and faith finds its deepest source and highest goal here in the Lord’s Eucharist.
Here in his true flesh and blood Christ hands himself over for us.
He hands himself over to the work and the judgment of his Father.
Here in the real presence of his own relentless persistence unto death, we receive from Christ the offer of a judgment of justice, vindication and holiness from his Father.
Here in the breaking and outpouring of Christ himself, he makes each of us whole.
In his breaking and outpouring of himself he offers us the fullness of our human integrity together with the fullness of his own DIVINE INTEGRITY.
We have only to unveil our emptiness to begin seeing the wealth of God’s provident mercy.
That is the Good News, the Gospel as Mary puts it.
He looks on the lowliness of his servant.
He who is the Mighty One has done great things to me.
He fills the starving with His own Goodness.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 17, 2006

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

Luke 17:26-37

So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

Today in his Gospel our Lord speaks of his return.
Elsewhere, he says he will return in the glory that belongs to him, accompanied by all the angels to be enthroned as King of the world.
He will pass judgment on us according to our conduct.
He tells us he will say to some:
Come, O blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!

To others, Jesus tells us he will say instead:
Depart from me, you cursed ones,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!

When our Lord speaks about his return, he makes clear it is going to happen as a sudden surprise.
We shall never know when it is going to happen, but should simply always be prepared.
Each of us might be able to go through life never having suffered in a battlefield, an accident, a terminal illness, or a natural disaster.
NONE of us shall escape the LORD.
How many of us are ready?
Every Sunday we stand up to profess our faith that Christ:
will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead;
and his kingdom will have no end.

One day, in the public sight of every continent, every nation and every city in the world, Christ the King will bring on the new heavens and the new earth.
However, the Lord’s Second Coming also arrives for us— one by one— at the hour of individual death.
There is another kind of perpetual Second Coming, a perpetual end of the old world, a perpetual arrival of the new heavens and the new earth.
In his Eucharist, the Lord— who sacrificed himself on the Cross— still offers up his body once broken and his blood once poured out.
In his Eucharist, the risen Lord gives us his glorified flesh and his living blood as food and drink.
In the mystery of his Eucharist, Christ is always the one who comes “again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
Since we agree to eat and drink his Eucharistic Covenant, he expects us to live as bearers of his second coming in flesh and blood.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 16, 2006

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

Luke 17:20-25

Today in his Gospel, the Lord speaks to Pharisees who ask a simple religious question.
They want to see the end of the sufferings of this age, and their desire is a religious one.
They hope and believe God will establish his perfect kingdom here on earth, and they are impatient to know when this will take place.
When will God finally banish poverty, oppression, injustice and all suffering from human existence?
The human life of the Son of God on earth, his preaching and miracles, his suffering, death and resurrection did not put an end to the continuing history of human suffering.
However, his life in the flesh gives entirely new meaning and worth to human existence.
His suffering, death and resurrection as God in the flesh give entirely new meaning and value to human suffering and death.
God has taken communion in our suffering and is present to us when we suffer— PRESENT, and NOT absent.
Today in his Gospel, he tells us his kingdom is already present in our midst.
The presence of suffering is no longer a sign of God’s absence.
Furthermore, the converse is also true: the absence of suffering is not necessarily a sign of God’s presence and favor.
He says today in his Gospel,
The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed,
and no one will announce,
“Look, here it is,”
or, “There it is.”
For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.

The signs are no longer what we expected.
He says only that one day the kingdom of God— though already present— will be made visible as surely as a lightning flash turning night into day.
Until then the sons and daughters of the human race will continue to suffer much and be rejected.
Even the Son of God on earth, our Lord and Savior, was not exempt from this.
Scripture tells us that on the day the Lord is made visible in glory every tear will be wiped away.
We will be like God, for we will see him as he is, in the naked fullness of his glory.
God will both satisfy and burst open into himself all the hungers and powers that lie waiting and sleeping within us.
Our yearnings will continue endlessly so that the joy of their fulfillment will also be endless in the exceeding fullness of God.
There is no measure of height, depth, length, or breadth which could be laid against the boundless self-offering of God himself.
All of this is already in our midst in the Power, the Sign and the Presence of the Eucharist.
The end of suffering and death are present in the Body and Blood of the Lord.
There also are the promise and presence of our resurrection and the fulfillment of all that we were made to be.
In his Eucharist, the kingdom of God is already and always present in the midst of our suffering until the end of the present age.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 15, 2006

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

Luke 17:11-19

“Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
In that question, Jesus is claiming to be God.
The newly healed Samaritan leper had just come back, glorifying God in a loud voice, and has thrown himself facedown at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
However, in order to gain legal permission to rejoin public society, he still had to go see the priests, as Jesus told him, just like the other nine lepers.
What would the priests do?
They would examine the lepers to certify that they were now healed.
Then the priests would offer up two sacrifices for each man.
One sacrifice would atone for sin.
The other sacrifice would offer thanks to God.
That is ironic.
Jesus knew the ten healed lepers would be offering thanksgiving sacrifices to God.
Still, he asked, “Was no one found to return and give praise to ME— GOD— except this foreigner?”
Now the newly-healed foreign leper goes off to join the other nine newly-healed lepers and the priests to offer atonement for sin and thanksgiving for salvation.
These are the two poles between which stretches the whole spectrum of the spiritual life.
God is gracious.
God is good.
He made us.
We are alive.
God is merciful.
We are forgiven.
For grace we are grateful.
God is truth.
At times we act falsely.
So when we meet God, at times we are drawn to atone, repent, convert.
GRACE AND TRUTH— the two poles between which stretches the whole spectrum of the spiritual life and our experience of God.
Here in the Eucharist we find the same.
Salvation because we are sinners.
Thanksgiving for love, for life, for mercy and salvation.
Atonement for our sins.
Grace and Truth coming to meet us.
Grace and Truth offering themselves up for us.
Grace and Truth inviting us into themselves.
How fitting it would be to join the Samaritan leper before the altar today, lying facedown with adoring joy, gratitude and praise at the feet of Jesus Lord and God.
At least we lift up our hearts.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 14, 2006

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

Luke 17:7-10

Today our Lord says no matter how hard or long we’ve worked at doing all he has commanded, we are to take no credit.
Instead, he tells us to say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”
We are not to take credit.
Furthermore, elsewhere in his Gospel the Lord tells us we are not to let the people around us see that we deserve credit.
The Lord says:
When you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your alms may be in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you pray…
pray to your Father who is in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you fast
[let not your fasting] be seen by men
but by your Father who is in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We are not to take credit for doing what God commands.
We are not to contrive to have other persons give us credit.
This is all because none of us knows the full extent of either goodness or evil.
Only God knows.
Only God can measure what is really in us.
Only God can really measure what we are and what we do.
Our judgment is always partial and liable to be mistaken.
From beginning to end, only God’s credit and judgment matter.
In his parable of the last judgment, the Lord separates his blessed sheep from the accursed goats.
Yet, neither the righteous sheep nor the negligent goats know what they have done or failed to do.
The sheep don’t know that they have truly served the Lord.
The goats don’t know that they have neglected the Lord.
It is a disturbing parable.
In it the Lord welcomes the sheep into his Father’s kingdom because they have served him— though entirely ignorant of it.
Then he sends the goats, as he says, “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” because they have neglected to serve the Lord even though they are only as ignorant as the sheep.
For their ignorance and their neglect, the goats shall have hell to pay.
Today in his Gospel our Lord tells us to say in the end, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”
Yet he tells us the sheep at the last judgment won’t even know that they did their duty.
Only God can measure, even while he commands us to measure up.
The Lord gives us the duty to fulfill his commands now without our ever knowing the full measure either of obedience or neglect.
Where are we to find this master whom we serve?
He tells us himself that for us men and for our salvation he has come down from heaven.
He IS the hungry one.
He IS the thirsty one.
He IS the stranger.
He IS the naked one.
He IS sick.
He IS in prison.
He IS our co-worker, our neighbor, and our relative.
In the midst of the stern accreditation of God who tells us today to call ourselves unworthy servants, there is a sign of hope from God himself.
He knows we are hungry, too, and that we thirst.
He knows we are estranged, naked, sick and imprisoned.
Sin has brought this all upon us.
It is the Lord, hidden from sight, who comes in the Eucharistic food and drink of his body and blood to save us from hell’s everlasting famine and thirst.
Of his own self he makes for us a homeland.
He clothes us with his own divine dignity, and opens for us the credit house of all his own goodness.
To us in the sickness of sin and the prison of death, he brings his holiness and immortality.
He gives us himself.
That is all that really that matters from beginning to end.
So let us keep his commands and serve him in all things great and little, for since he is the Lord of all, all of it matters to him whether we know it or not.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 13, 2006

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

Luke 17:1-6

Today in the Gospel, the apostles ask Christ for something only God can give.
increase our faith!

I’m sure each of us has prayed many times for the same gift.
The apostles ask the Lord to increase their faith right after he has given them two hard teachings.
First, he said that rather than cause anyone to sin, a man would be better off thrown into the sea with a giant stone collar to make sure he drowned and rotted at the bottom.
Second, our Lord said if a man sins against us, we should rebuke him, and if he repents we should forgive him; and if he keeps on sinning BUT REPENTING, we should keep on forgiving.
After hearing the Lord command us to forgive endlessly anyone who sins endlessly against us, but always repents, and after hearing the Lord’s lethal words for anyone who causes another to sin, it is only natural to pray, “Lord, then increase our faith!”
How does our Lord answer?
He says something that only adds to the difficulty.
He says if we had any faith— even the size of a mustard seed— just enough to hide between pinched fingers— then at our command a tree would fly and transplant itself into the sea.
Which seems more possible for us to do, to forgive someone endlessly … or to command a tree to come out of the ground and fly into the ocean?
It seems more possible to forgive endlessly.
If truth be told, commanding a tree to fly seems impossible.
However, if, as the Lord says, it only takes a pinch of faith to make a tree fly, then it much take much less than a pinch of faith to forgive endlessly.
I think that forgiving endlessly is not the toughest thing our Lord teaches today; and neither is commanding trees to fly by the power of our faith.
The toughest thing today is Jesus himself saying it’s better for us to have people put a millstone around our necks so that we drown and rot at the bottom of the sea than for us to cause another person to sin.
What horrible, ugly violence Jesus conjures up today for those who cause others to sin!
Perhaps we need to be as deadly serious as Jesus about sin.
Jesus, after all, chose to die that sins might be forgiven.
How right and necessary to ask the Lord to increase our faith!

That God Be Glorified in All

November 12, 2006

For the Thirty-Second Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 12:38-44

Today in his Gospel, the Lord goes so far as to speak of “very severe condemnation” for the scribes— lawyers of religion— who show off their lengthy prayers and clothes, seeking public recognition, honor, respect and prestige, all the while making a dishonorable profit from the misfortunes of impoverished widows.
Then, as he sits down inside the Temple compound, where he can see the collection box, he notices the large sums of money the wealthy are leaving in the collection.
These wealthy persons are giving out of their surplus.
The Lord does not call that a bad thing.
It is good to put one’s material surplus at the service of a good cause.
But then the Lord notices and calls to our attention a poor widow who has dropped in just two small coins— copper coins in the original language.
Hers is a materially small and materially insignificant contribution.
I believe you can’t buy anything today for two copper pennies.
In the Lord’s day perhaps two pennies could buy enough to keep starvation away for just one more day.
In any case the poor widow’s pennies win the Lord’s admiration.
He simply proclaims that “she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole LIVELIHOOD.”
Her whole LIFE!
She is a heroine in the eyes of our Lord.
Surely she is with him this day in Paradise where she is still “giving it her all,” still putting in everything she has and is, her whole life, in God’s holy dwelling place.
Whose good does it serve for her and all the saints to spend themselves in heaven?
It serves God’s glory and participates in the Lord’s work of salvation— our salvation.
After all, the saints in heaven and we on earth are his Body, the instruments, the means, and the place of his work among men.
Here in the Blessed Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, we receive the Son of God who has himself received everything that the Father has.
Here under the mere appearances of a bread-wafer and a sip of wine— PERHAPS TWO CENTS’ WORTH— under these skimpy and mere appearances the eternal Father donates EVERYTHING: his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased.
It is not out of poverty that God gives to us.
Rather, in the Son, God in all fullness lives.
Once he died, but he is risen and remains— glorified— even in the present poverty of our human life and death.
He himself, in his risen body, is the promise, the beginning and the real presence of our future glory.
The Word of the Lord [Col. 2:9-10] tells us
In him the whole fullness of deity dwells BODILY,
and you have come to fullness of life in him.

That God Be Glorified in All