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 23, 2007

For the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Matthew 1:18-24

Today is the last Sunday before Christmas— Sunday, the day Jesus rose from the dead in flesh and blood.
Quite fittingly, today the Word of the Lord to the Romans recalls the splendor of Jesus, that:
he is the Son of God;
he is established in power and holiness;
he is the resurrection from the dead.

Both born as a man and risen from the dead in flesh and blood, Jesus is EMMANUEL, “God-with-Us” in a fourfold way.
First of all, God came down from heaven to personally join us as a fellow human being of flesh and blood.
Secondly, he is “God-with-Us” by personally taking a share in our lot of sorrow and suffering.
Thirdly, he is “God-with-Us” even unto personal death.
Finally, Jesus, by rising from the dead in flesh and blood, turns his title around and gives it to us.
That is: in the resurrection of Jesus— resurrection as one who is STILL a flesh and blood member of the human race— Jesus Emmanuel makes it possible for US to receive the title “We-with-God.”
This is so because Jesus— God— is still a member of our race, risen from the dead, and seated in flesh and blood at the right hand of the Father.
God invites us to receive the throne of Jesus as our HOME OF JOY.
So, the Word of the Lord to the Romans today tells us we are “called to be holy” and “to belong to Jesus Christ” through “the obedience of faith.”
We become holy and belong to Jesus by obeying what faith tells us.
The Gospel today shows Joseph and Mary as holy and belonging to Jesus.
St. Joseph and Blessed Virgin Mary believed and obeyed God.
Their obedience went to amazing depths.
In the Gospel Mary has already received the plan of God from an angel.
God the Son, with the power of God the Holy Spirit, already has personally begun to live a flesh-and-blood human life in the womb of Mary.
Mary seems to have said nothing to Joseph about the angel, the Holy Spirit, or the Son of the Most High whose body and blood she now carries within her virgin body and nourishes with her virgin blood.
It seems Mary, faithful and obedient, to God, says nothing in her own defense.
It is enough for her silently to believe and obey the plan of God.
Joseph silently decides to end his marriage to Mary.
After that decision, Joseph receives a bit of explanation— but not from Mary.
An angel visits his dreaming, speaks to him, and commands him.
The angel says the Son of Mary will “save his people from their sins.”
What does that mean to Joseph?
No man— only God— can save others from their sins.
Saving others from their sins is a notion that could get a man killed for blasphemy.
Part of Joseph’s dream later became a living nightmare on the cross, but one that awoke in the glory of resurrection.
For now, without question or protest, Joseph joins Mary in obedience to God.
The Son of God is already in their midst— a flesh and blood baby in the womb of Mary.
Joseph and Mary fulfilled the Word of the Lord to the Romans that we are:
called to be holy
and to belong to Jesus Christ
through the obedience of faith.

We share the mission of Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.
With them we share the mission of the Son of God who saves his people from their sins.
In a few moments we shall have Emmanuel, God-with-Us, in flesh and blood upon the silent stone of the altar.
His Eucharist is GOD-WITH-US— really, truly, personally, in flesh and blood.
He hands himself over— as he tells it— so that sins may be forgiven.
By calling his Eucharist a Covenant, he expects us to hand our lives over to him in return.
In his Body and Blood, he calls us to be holy and belong to him through the obedience of faith.
Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph lived for Jesus during their earthly lives, and they are with him still.
Together with them, we have the opportunity to be free from sin, to be alive with God, to rise from the dead in flesh and blood, to have dreams come true, to be at home in the everlasting kingdom of joy, goodness, and beauty that have no measure.
We-with-God, God-with-Us!

That God Be Glorified in All


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