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.

May 25, 2007

For Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

John 21:15-19

Among God's ancient people, the only ones who gave or changed a man's name were a man's father or God himself.
The Lord Jesus, acting as God and as father to Simon son of John, had changed his name to "Rock" -- "Peter."
However, today in the Gospel, the Lord drops the name of "Rock," and goes back to calling the man "Simon."
Underscoring the old name,
the Lord calls him by both his former first name and his Hebrew last name: "Simon son of John."
The man the Lord had called to be "Rock" had not stood firm.
When the wolves had come to snatch Christ the Good Shepherd, Simon the hireling ran away.
Simon ran away despite having said, "Lord ... I will lay down my life for you."
Three times today, the Lord sets aside the name of "Rock," and goes back to the former "Simon son of John," as if to say each of the three times, "You have not been a rock."
Addressing Simon son of John three times, the Lord asks him a question three times, and Simon gives an answer three times.
Each time Simon gives an answer, the Lord gives him a command.
First: "Feed my lambs!"
Second: "Tend my sheep!"
Third: "Feed my sheep!"
The last time before today that the Lord spoke of sheep, he said, "I am the Good Shepherd."
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
He who is a hireling and not a shepherd,
whose own the sheep are not,
sees the wolf coming
and leaves the sheep
and flees....
He flees because he is a hireling
and cares nothing for the sheep.

Today, the Lord commands Simon three times to feed and tend his lambs and sheep, to be a good shepherd of the Lord's flock, to lay down his life for the Lord and the Lord's flock.
Then the Lord prophesies that Simon will eventually be a Rock and a Good Shepherd.
Amen, amen,
I say to you,
when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself
and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old,
you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.

The Gospel then adds that the Lord said this to show how Peter would finally give glory to God.
Every time Christ the Good Shepherd speaks from his altar, he declares and really presents himself as the Lamb of God who gives up his body for us -- though we only sometimes flock as sheep to him, but other times we rip into him as wolves, or run away like cowardly hirelings.
However, from his altar he also invites us into a covenant in his blood.
In the Word of the Lord, a covenant is always two parties making life and death vows to each other.
The New and Everlasting Covenant of the Good Shepherd and Lamb of God commands us in his memory to give up our bodies for him and shed our blood for him, because he has already given up his body for us and shed his blood for us.

That God Be Glorified in All

May 20, 2007

For the Seventh Sunday of Easter

My monastery keeps the solemn holy day of the Lord’s Ascension on the same day as the universal calendar of the Church, the same day named in the Scriptures: the fortieth day of the Resurrection. That was last Thursday.

John 17:20-26
Acts 7:55-60
Revelation 22:12-14,16,17,20

Forty days after his resurrection, our Lord crossed over bodily into the invisible glory of heaven.
For ten days after that the first disciples gathered to pray together with Mary the mother of Jesus.
These present ten days between our solemnities of Ascension and Pentecost Sunday are still days of special prayer in the life of the Church.
Accordingly, today in the Gospel and the other Scriptures, we witness the prayer of saints, of the Church, and even the prayer of the Spirit and of Christ.
In the Book of Acts (the first reading today), we witness St. Stephen, the first martyr, filled with the Holy Spirit and looking into heaven, seeing the glory of the Father and Jesus standing at the Father’s right hand.
For announcing his faith and the vision of God-Father-Son-and-Spirit, St. Stephen is killed.
As the crowd stones him to death, we hear him pray, asking Christ to forgive his murderers.
In the Book of Revelation today (the second reading): prayer again.
This time it is the Holy Spirit giving a voice to the Church, the Bride of the Lamb of God, the Bride of Christ.
The voice of the Spirit joins the voice of the Church, praying aloud to Christ, “Come! Come, Lord Jesus!”
Finally, in the Gospel today, we witness Christ the Lord at prayer— praying for us.
He prays for us mindful of his own entry into glory through death, resurrection and ascension.
Though his bodily ascension into glory means we do not see the Lord face to face now, in his prayer he makes it clear he has no intention of abandoning us who belong to him.
Rather, he wants to bring us with him into his glory.
He is praying— right now, even at this very moment, seated at the right hand of the Father:
they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am
they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory
that you gave me,
because you loved me
before the foundation of the world.

“Father.... I wish that where I am they also may be with me.”
Christ wants us— we belong to him.
He wants us to be able to follow him to the Father; and we will be able to follow him because he himself has brought us the news of God’s grace, his good will, his desire and plan for us— and we have accepted and believed.
In this way, we who believe and are baptized in the Father, in the Son and in the Spirit— baptized into God, we have already become participants in the mutual love of the Father and the Son.
We share their communion in one Spirit.
Our existence, our life and our salvation— these are the event of God’s love in action: we are the fruit of his love.
In his desire for our good and our joy, Christ desires that we enter the glory of heaven to be at his side.
This is also the Father’s own desire and plan.
It was the Father himself who sent the Son into the world to accomplish that very thing.
Together with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is also at work.
The Spirit brings to fulfillment within us the work that Christ began, the work of making us into full and active participants in the union that Christ has with his own Father.
In that way, we are included in the love that the Father has for Christ.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Son of God carried out his work on earth, his work of bringing us into spiritual and real communion with himself and the Father.
The Holy Spirit of God— promised us by the Son our Lord, and sent by the Father— the Spirit of God is always at work in the world to build up and complete the relationship, the covenant, the Church, the communion, the love that is to join heaven and earth to one another.
And what is love?
It is to CHOOSE and DO and LIVE and HAND OURSELVES OVER to what is OBJECTIVELY GOOD, to what is GODLY.
This true love was perfect in the human life of Jesus the Son of God.
It is fulfilled and consummated in the obedience and gratitude of Jesus Christ.
Now it is the work of the Spirit to bring the same true love to realization in us, in our lives.
The WHOLE world— if it were to open itself to the Spirit— would be able to believe, to have faith, to know and to rejoice that the Father’s eternal and almighty love for his own Son is the same love that he has for all humanity— a love for us that is just as eternal and almighty as God’s love for himself in the Father, Son and Spirit.
Christ is praying for that right now. Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father.
Face to face with the Father, on the Father’s throne, Christ now displays his and our own humanity— in flesh and blood marked by death and resurrection.
In communion with his Father by Spirit, and in communion with us by flesh, blood and Spirit, Christ continues to pray for us just as his Gospel reveals today.
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them as you loved me.

Today in this Eucharist, let us join our wills and our own prayer to the prayer of Christ.
In the Eucharist, let us join our own voices to the voice of the Spirit and the voice of the Bride, the Church, saying:
Amen, Lord!
Thy prayer and thy will be done!
Amen, Lord!
Come, Lord Jesus!

That God Be Glorified in All