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.

August 05, 2007

For the Eighteenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Luke 12:31-21

Today in his Gospel, our Lord gives us a lesson about what is most important.
Later, he will sum up the same lesson, telling us to seek first God’s kingship and his righteousness, and that by doing so all other things also will be ours.
Taken literally, that would mean that our natural human hungers and needs shall be met as long as our top priority is God’s kingdom and his righteousness or justice.
However, that literal meaning is too simple to be real.
Life in this world— just as it is— often proves the opposite.
The martyrs of our faith made God’s kingdom and his justice their top priority.
Yet, their hungers and needs were denied satisfaction— denied to the point of death.
To seek God’s kingdom and justice before all other things can also mean we must do WITHOUT all the rest.
Why would the Lord ask that of us?
He can ask that of us because of what we are.
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 well-being 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.
Those who suffer, die or even merely live peaceably for the sake of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the Spirit, have dignity and a nobility that surpass the splendor of any flower or meadow.
Consider Mother Teresa.
Even non-Christians and the secular world recognized in her the peaceful dignity and nobility of those who seek above all else the kingdom of God.
That extraordinary woman worked herself hard.
However, even 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— together with the immeasurable, everlasting treasure of heaven.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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