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.

July 12, 2007

For Thursday of the Fourteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 10:7-15

After giving his Apostles the tidings that the “Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” the Lord also tells them what happens when heaven holds sway on earth.
Sickness quits.
Demons quit.
Death quits.
In the Kingdom of heaven, men have everything they need, without turning to stores of money or supplies.
Peace comes.
Finally, the Lord says today that judgment day will not tolerate those who close their lives to the Kingdom of heaven.
“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
We Christians have become overly familiar with the thought of our someday living in “heaven-on-earth”.
We have come to think of heaven as easily populated.
Christ himself, however, said:
Enter by the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction,
and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard,
that leads to life, and those who find it are few. [Mt. 7:13-14]

For the ancient people of God, there was nothing and no one in heaven but God.
Nothing and no one was holy enough to be in heaven, except the pure spirit messengers, the angels.
Some of the people of Jesus day had begun to think that if there were to be a resurrection from the dead, it would be only for the just, and it would be a resurrection back to this merely earthly life.
They did not imagine that anyone could live where God himself lives.
For them, Heaven meant God alone.
For the ancient people of God, both “Treasure in heaven” and the Kingdom of heaven” stood for God himself.
That is why the Gospels say either the “Kingdom of heaven” or the “Kingdom of God”.
The news that Christ brought was that the resurrection is for both the just and the unjust.
The life of the resurrection never ends.
For the just, the resurrection is to be heaven on earth, seeing God face to face, and dwelling with him.
For the unjust, Christ brought news of something unknown in the Old Testament: hell.
Until Christ came, the people of God thought that the unjust would simply stay dead in darkness and silence.
Christ brought news that the even the unjust would rise from the dead forever, but they would spend forever in what Christ himself described as never-ending fire.
Hell is not Old Testament.
Hell is New Testament and Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his Gospel today, he tells what awaits a house or town than turns away from God.
I say to you,
it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.

Judgment day!
That is the Gospel of the Lord to which, a few moments ago, we all said, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!”
Christ says judgment day will give both hell and heaven-on-earth their own populations.
What hope have we of heaven?
The Eucharist shows us the way there.
The Eucharist is not heaven full of people.
The Eucharist is heaven’s God who empties himself.
If we would be judged worthy of heaven and God, it shall be because we shall have imitated him in his Eucharist.
We shall have emptied ourselves for the Kingdom of heaven, emptied ourselves to have God as our King.
No gold, silver, or copper; no journey sack, second tunic, footwear, or walking stick; no other support or supply preferred to God.
That is the narrow and hard way Christ the King enjoins on us for finding life in his heavenly kingdom on earth.
Heaven on earth— where sickness quits, demons quit, death quits, and peace lives forever.
If that’s what we really want, then the Gospel of the Lord today— and his Eucharist— both tell us to open our lives in readiness for judgment day.

That God Be Glorified in All


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