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.

January 02, 2007

For January 2 in the Christmas Season

John 1:19-28

Although we are still in the season of commemorating the birth of Christ, we already turn with the Gospel to witness the beginnings of the public mission of the Lord as a full-grown man.
Today— as we did during the season of Advent— we again see John the Baptist straightening the way for Christ’s public work to begin.
John called the people to conversion— he called them to PUBLIC conversion— a conversion made public by a form of baptism.
Though honesty in one’s conversion demanded personal sincerity, the conversion John invited was no private matter.
John held people publicly accountable for their sins.
He wanted people to be seen converting publicly, to be held publicly accountable for their conversions— their abandonment of sin and their turning back to God.
A flat, straight, desert road for Christ cannot be hidden, because all the low spots have been filled in, and all the hills have been flattened for that road.
The “high visibility” of preparing oneself for Christ to come is part of the prophecy of Isaiah that John recalls.
As we travel through the daily Mass through another year with the Lord, will our lives look like a flat and straight thoroughfare on which Christ can rush in?
As we dare to receive him in his Eucharist today, will we make the road any smoother for him, or will we carelessly ignore the potholes of our ongoing lack of virtue and the bumps of our enduring habits of sin?
John the Baptist knew well that Christ did not deserve any such neglect from those who expected to have him in their lives.
the one who is coming after me…
[his] sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.

We are never worthy of the one who is coming to us in his Eucharist.
Since he comes nonetheless, let us live in constant preparation and conversion.

That God Be Glorified in All

January 01, 2007

For the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Luke 2:16-21

In the earliest centuries of the Church, Christians found it necessary to answer those who said it was impossible for God to really have been born as a man.
No one questioned the historical, earthly existence of Jesus.
However, some thought that God could never be born as a real man of real flesh of blood.
The Church began to use the title “Mother of God” as a way of insisting that eternal God had truly come down from heaven to be born as a real man from the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Today is the eighth day of our celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By the laws of God’s people, the eighth day of a boy’s life is the day he receives his name.
An angel revealed the name of Jesus to Mary before she conceived.
The name comes from the ancient Biblical Hebrew words for “God is salvation.”
Born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus is the Lord God our Savior.
In the first reading today, our Lord tells us to invoke his name so that he will bless us and keep us.
He will let his face shine upon us, and be gracious to us.
He will look kindly upon us, and give us peace.
However, his blessing, his light, his grace, his kindness, and his peace that he gives to us have come at a price to himself.
Eternal God came out of eternity into the world, to be born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Jesus was born under God’s law that holds sinners accountable.
Jesus was never a sinner, but he came among us sinners to pay our deadly ransom, to free us to become sons and daughters of God.
As the children of God through Christ, we are to obey the same law of God that Christ obeyed.
Honor your father and your mother,
as the Lord your God commanded you;
that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you…. [Deuteronomy 5:16]

Jesus honored Mary.
Yesterday the Gospel again told us that Jesus lived with her in Nazareth, and that he subjected himself in obedience to her.
Jesus our Lord God and Savior received his human life through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In celebrating the earthly birth of God the Son, we do well to ask the prayerful intercession of his mother whom he himself obeyed according to the plan of God the Father for our salvation.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death!

That God Be Glorified in All

December 31, 2006

For the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Sunday, 31 December A.D. 2006

Luke 2:41-52

Today in the Gospel is the LAST time we see the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph together.
It is also the FIRST time in the Gospel that we hear Jesus speak.

Although he is only twelve years of age, his words today are not the words of a boy, but the words of a self-aware man with a mission.

With knowledge far beyond his boyish twelve years, Jesus speaks of God as his Father and of the National Temple as his Father’s House.
However, the Gospel then suddenly reports that Jesus went to live with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth and he obediently submitted to them.
We have extremes of paradox here.
From the Great National Temple in Jerusalem to the town of Nazareth, a place so little thought of that years later one of the apostles asks, “Nazareth— can anything good come from there?”
We have the paradox of a twelve-year-old boy who knows he is the Son of God.
Paradox again in Mary who gave birth to him but is nonetheless a virgin.
Joseph, too, is a paradox: a silent village craftsman who in his sleep receives visits and instructions from an angel.
In what the Gospel lets us see of this holy and most unusual family, there is much that is unstable and undesirable.
We first meet them homeless in Bethlehem.
We watch them escape into Egypt as refugees.
Today we see them as pilgrims, with Mary and Joseph terror-stricken as they search for the boy Jesus for three days.
When they finally find him in the Temple he tells them he doesn’t belong with them.

At that, the Gospel tells us Mary and Joseph did not understand him.
They have personally cared for this Man-Child for twelve years since his birth, but his mission, his mind and his message still seem mysterious for them.

Nonetheless, the Son of God returns with them to that famously “good-for-nothing” town of Nazareth and places himself under obedience to them.
Then, that is the last that the Gospel ever has to say of St. Joseph.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
We call them “The Holy Family.”
We admire them.
Yet, there is much in their experience as a family that we would never wish for our own families.
Despite that, they do show us the essential and great mission of every Christian family: to give glory to God and to serve the good of the human race.
On the night that Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the watchful care of St. Joseph— ON THE NIGHT THAT JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH WERE BORN AS A FAMILY— an angel together with a great army from heaven sang of the mission that Jesus would serve: GIVE GLORY TO GOD, AND BRING THE PEACE OF GOD’S FAVOR TO ALL ON EARTH.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph join our Lord Jesus the Son of God to serve the glory of God and the good of the human race.
Today, you and I with all the angels and saints, together with Mary and Joseph— we have all come looking for Jesus here in the Church, his Father’s House … OUR Father’s House.
Like the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, in our own lives we may meet with days and seasons of instability, homelessness, exile, terror, and mystery.
Yet one thing is always stable and sure.
Jesus makes a home for us in his own Father’s house.
That is for our eternal benefit and for the glory of the Father.
As he went down to Nazareth, and put himself under obedience to Mary and Joseph, so also in the Eucharist of his Body and Blood he comes down to the towns where we live, and he offers himself up in obedience for the glory of the Father and for our salvation.

That God Be Glorified in All