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.

December 02, 2007

For the First Sunday of Advent, the First Day of the Church Year

Isaiah 2:1-5
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

The Word of the Lord, in the first reading, foretold what all of us did this morning.
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob.”
His foretelling also has why we came to this hilltop house of the Lord.
“That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”
“O ... come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!”
We have come to God’s house “that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths” and by his light.
The beacon of the Lord’s house shines in the second reading as well.
“Let us ... throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Even had I been too sick to be here today, I have long and willingly stood on my Baptism as counting me among those of God’s household, who choose to be instructed in his ways, to walk in his paths and by his light.
By my own choice, I have made myself answerable for my choice.
So, as the ancient word of the Lord foretells today again, the Lord “shall judge” and “impose terms.”
The Lord “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
Since today we have chosen to be here in the House of the Lord again, we have chosen also to make ourselves answerable again for his instruction, his ways, his paths, his light, his judgments, and his terms.
How will it be at the coming of the Son of Man?
Will he save us or lose us?
That is up to us now, because he has already opened the door of his house, and extended his invitation, and we have accepted it.
We must stay ready, for at an hour we do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Like the appearance of bread, but the reality of his Body, and like the appearance of wine, but the reality of his Blood, the day of Christ’s return will remain unrecognizable until it’s real presence.
He tells us today in his Gospel that at an hour we DO NOT EXPECT he will come.
Finally, in the public sight of all flesh, to the dismay of history and the delight of faith, he will return, breaking in like a thief at an unknown hour of night.
Should I die before then, I will nonetheless stand before him, the Judge of the living and the dead.
One of the “good works” in the teaching of St. Benedict is for a monk “to keep death daily before his eyes.”
On what path would my death or the Second Coming find me today?
The choice is mine everyday and in all things.
If I choose the good work of being always ready either for death or the Second Coming, then I will find eternal rest and joy in the perpetual light of paradise face to face with God.
If I have not bothered at all to be ready, God will not bother me at all, any more, and forever.
He will save those who stand ready, but he will abandon me to the path I have chosen.
He says it in his Gospel today: “one will be taken, and one will be left ... one will be taken, and one will be left.”
At least the first half of the season of Advent keeps death and the Second Coming daily before our eyes.
Not until the octave day before Christmas does Advent stare straight at Christmas.
To spend these days of Advent SHOPPING for the goods of this world, more than PRAYING to be good in the world, is to tell Christ, “We’re throwing a Christmas party, but we are not inviting you.”
To prepare now for Christmas, but ignore the final Advent of Christ as Judge of the living and the dead, is to drive out the person, the mission, and the promise of Christ, thereby to drive out our own everlasting joy.
It is to turn our celebration of Christ’s Mass into a binge of self-deception.

That God Be Glorified in All


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