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 03, 2007

For Friday of the Seventeenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 13:54-58
Leviticus 23:1,4-11,15-16,27,34b-37

The Bible calls a man’s cousins and some other relatives his “brothers and sisters.”
James and Joseph, who appear in this Gospel as “brothers” of Jesus, are the sons of her whom this Gospel later calls “the other Mary” [27:56; 28:1], who went to the cross and then to the tomb two mornings later.
Jesus is the only one born of Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin.
She never told the Nazareth-folk that an angel visited her in their midst with news from God.
Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit right there in Nazareth, she conceived the Son of God, but kept his identity secret from her neighbors.
Only St. Joseph knew.
He and Blessed Mary raised Jesus in Nazareth.
The Gospel today calls the town “his native place.”
How long was it since he had been there before today?
He began his public life by going to receive baptism from St. John at the Jordan.
Was that when he left Nazareth?
Or had he left Nazareth long before then?
The Gospel does not say.
What is clear from the Gospel today is that the newly revealed wisdom and mighty deeds of Jesus are an offensive surprise to Nazareth.
For at least perhaps ninety percent of his earthly lifespan, Jesus kept his secret from his fellow Nazarenes.
He joined them in the synagogue on the Sabbath every week.
He celebrated the Levitical festivals and high holy days with them year after year.
He never gave them any hint of his uniqueness, his true identity, wisdom and might until now.
Now they know, and now he’s back, but they give him only dishonor and unbelief.
The Gospel tells us “he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.”
Not “many mighty deeds”— perhaps just a few— in any case, not enough to impress Nazareth.
He did not use miracles for that purpose anyway.
He accepts that he is to be without honor in Nazareth his home.
Nazareth— the town that turned its back on the wisdom and mighty deeds of the Son of God, simply because he was one of their own, too familiar and too ordinary until now.
The Church proposes to families and communities the imitation of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph— the Holy Family of Nazareth.
We do well to follow the Holy Family— but we do badly to follow the example of Nazareth itself, blind, thickheaded, and stubborn, turning away from God who is in our midst in ordinary and familiar things.
St. Benedict our father wants us to stay mindful of holiness in the most ordinary work and familiar things of daily life.
He says [31:10-11] we are to:
regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar.
Nothing is to be neglected.

God chose to be really present in the ordinariness, the familiarity, and the routine of Nazareth for perhaps ninety percent or more of his earthly lifespan.
In a similar way, here in the ordinariness of eating and drinking, God is really present.
He, his wisdom, and his mighty deeds are really present in his Eucharist, not hitting us over the head with showy miracles, but expecting our faith nonetheless.

That God Be Glorified in All


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