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.

October 21, 2007

For the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Today, 21 October, is a liturgical solemnity in my monastery. Our solemnity today is the anniversary of the dedication of our monastery’s church, for which our abbot presides and preaches. I posted something on my other blog about the dedication of churches. Because of our solemnity today, my monastery is not using the texts for the Mass of the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Sunday. Nonetheless, here is a re-worked version of a homily I wrote some time ago for the Gospel that belongs to the twenty-ninth Sunday.

Luke 18:1-8

Five Sundays from today will be the last Sunday of the Church’s ritual year.
As the Lord comes to us in his Gospel during these final weeks, 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 in his Gospel, he says he will look for and recognize his chosen ones by their faith.
We can express our faith in words, as we shall do in the Creed, the Profession of Faith, in a few moments.
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 cultivation of living faith comes about through persistent and relentless PRAYER, never losing heart, but respecting God and having concern for our fellow human beings.
Today the Lord gives the example of a complaining widow who chooses to risk provoking a judge to anger.
She does not hesitate to cause the judge annoyance and discomfort.
She is daring, persistent and relentless.
She is a painful, pestering nag.
To pray the way she nags is not easy, not comfortable, and not comforting.
The complaining widow knows that nothing has more value for her than to receive vindication from the judge.
Without it, she shall suffer or die because of poverty.
The complaining widow nags the judge to death, because it is a life or death question for the widow.
In the same way, our prayer needs to spring from the recognition that 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 desperate display of her poverty.
Prayer unveils its own emptiness before God.
Give us THIS day our daily bread.

That’s what Jesus taught us to pray.
“Give us THIS day... we want it NOW.”
“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, God will not force the issue— BUT NEITHER WILL HE DISMISS THE CASE IN THE END.
As we heard him ask us today:
When the Son of man comes,
WILL he find faith on earth?

To the very end, God will respect it as a choice of life or death that he left us free to decide.
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.
The 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 to the Judge for us.
This is my body
This is my blood
that sins may be FORGIVEN

We eat and drink the flesh and blood of a CONDEMNED MAN who chose to be condemned in OUR place and for OUR sins.
He handed 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 offers us completion, fulfillment.
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.
It is not magic.
It is a gift to be used, a gift to be lived.
We have only to unveil our emptiness and vulnerability, and begin to let go of false fulfillments— and THEN we can begin to see and appreciate the wealth of God’s provident mercy.
That is the Good News, the Gospel— poured out with nagging insistence in the lifeblood of Christ.

That God Be Glorified in All


Blogger Andrew said...

This is off topic to this post, but can I have your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7 and Revelation 14? I'm doing a comparison between monks today and monks from the 4th century. Thanks!

9:38 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

I have been slow in getting to your comment and in formulating a response. I've looked at the texts you mentioned, and have considered them. I find that those particular texts are so dense in themes that one could write a complete, autonomous commentary on the individual themes of each of the phrases one by one. That's a big and longterm project that I'm not willing to take on.

4:36 PM  

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