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.

November 12, 2007

For Monday of the Thirty-Second Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 17:1-6

All too often I have heard persons confess being judgmental as a sin.
If that were undoubtedly and always a sin, then what would one do with the command from Jesus in his Gospel today?
If your brother sins,
rebuke him!

Furthermore, Jesus says today that it were better for a man if people drowned him, weighting his body to rot at the bottom of the sea, rather than for that man to cause SCANDAL.
I used the word “scandal” there, rather than the word “sin” that appears in the Lectionary translation, because the original language has the word “scandal” here, not the word “sin.”
Our San Diego Diocese is presently reeling from the monetary punishments the civil court levied for the scandals a small minority of priests perpetrated.
Why are we not reeling instead from today’s Gospel?
Scandals will inevitably occur,
but woe to the PRIEST through whom they occur.
It would be better off for such a priest
if a millstone were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea
to drown, sink, and rot,
than for him to scandalize one of these little ones.

Thank God that the civil courts did not cite today’s Gospel of the Lord, and tell the Church of the Lord:
Hand over those priests!
We are going to chain them to boulders,
and throw them into the sea,
just as your Jesus described.

Harsh though the words of Jesus really are here, he goes right on to
tell the work of mercy.
If your brother sins,
rebuke him!
If he repents,
forgive him!

Jesus tells us to act on our judgment that a deed be good or a sin.
Having judged that a man has sinned, we are to rebuke him.
Out of a loving wish that the sinner repent, find salvation, and in the end be made one with God in glory and joy.
That is the work of mercy.
It is an UN-merciful culture that tells us it is wrong to judge and pronounce right from wrong.
Such is a culture without faith.
The Apostles reeled and recognized the need for faith as they heard the mercilessly harsh and harshly merciful teaching of Jesus in his Gospel today.
The Apostles said to the Lord,
“Increase our faith.”

He answered that with only a speck of faith their words would make trees fly up in the air and stand up in the sea.
I haven’t seen anyone do that around here, so I wonder if there’s not a speck of faith to be found among us.
If we can’t make trees fly and tread water, then we ought to be satisfied with rebuking sinners, and forgiving them when they repent— no matter how often it may be necessary to rebuke sinners and forgive the repentant.
That’s what Jesus wants.
That’s why in his Eucharist he still chooses to be the victim swallowed by our scandals and our sins, yours and mine.

That God Be Glorified in All


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