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.

August 10, 2007

For the Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, August 10

John 12:24-26

St. Lawrence was a deacon of the pope, and died a martyr in Rome on August 10 in the year 258.
The word “deacon” comes from the Greek for “servant”.
In the original language of the Gospel, today we have the Lord saying:
If anyone serves me
[if he “is my deacon”]
he must follow me;
and where I am,
there shall my servant [DEACON] be also;
if anyone serves me
[if he “is my deacon”]
the Father will honor him.

The Father will give the honor of eternal life to the loyal servant of Christ.
The heroic example of St. Lawrence and the strong language of the Lord’s Gospel tell us how to be loyal servants of Christ and so gain the honor of eternal life.
Like a grain of wheat,
a man brings forth much fruit by falling and dying
If he prefers his life in this world,
he loses it.

If he hates his life in this world,
he PRESERVES IT for eternal life.

Christ does not tell us to DESTROY our lives in this world.
Rather, we may preserve our lives in this world if we want ETERNAL life more than our lives in this world only.
The truth is that our life in this world is folded into eternal life, and that our eternal life is folded into our life in this world.
Christ says today, “Whoever hates his life in this world will preserve IT for eternal life.”
We are to hate not life itself.
Rather, we are to hate a life that ignores eternity.
At present, in this world, our lives are in disorder.
Our human nature is in disorder, out of harmony with itself.
We each have a body, a reasoning mind, free will and feelings.
These— body, mind, will, feelings— don’t always line up with each other, and never perfectly nor permanently.
That failure— that lack of order, harmony, and peace— that lack is something we naturally and rightfully HATE.
God did not make disorder, and he too hates it.
Human sin is origin of disorder.
In Christ— Truly God and Truly Man— we are justified, rectified, put in order and harmony through and through— body, mind, will, emotion.
Yet the order and harmony will not fully wake up until our own resurrection— if— in this world— we have hated sin and the disordered results of sin.
Christ by word and example shows us how to hate sin and its results— how to live and die in this world so that we gain eternal life.
St. Lawrence, like Christ himself, handed himself over for the glory of the Father and for the true, eternal good of humanity.
Christ gave his life and blood, like a grain of wheat falling into the ground, dying, and bearing immeasurable fruit, that we— in body, mind, will and feelings— that we might have life in fullness and for ever.
The Master hands over to us his body and blood to glorify the Father and to be the beginning of our eternal life.
What the Master does, so does the loyal servant.
Where the Master is, there is the loyal servant.
If we are to have eternal life, we must hand over our lives as did the loyal deacon St. Lawrence, and as our Eucharistic Master still does.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 05, 2007

For the Eighteenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Luke 12:31-21

Today in his Gospel, our Lord gives us a lesson about what is most important.
Later, he will sum up the same lesson, telling us to seek first God’s kingship and his righteousness, and that by doing so all other things also will be ours.
Taken literally, that would mean that our natural human hungers and needs shall be met as long as our top priority is God’s kingdom and his righteousness or justice.
However, that literal meaning is too simple to be real.
Life in this world— just as it is— often proves the opposite.
The martyrs of our faith made God’s kingdom and his justice their top priority.
Yet, their hungers and needs were denied satisfaction— denied to the point of death.
To seek God’s kingdom and justice before all other things can also mean we must do WITHOUT all the rest.
Why would the Lord ask that of us?
He can ask that of us because of what we are.
He made us in his image.
That means that while we ARE physical bodies needing food, clothing and shelter, we are also MORE than bodies.
It means that while we are also a complex of emotions and intellect needing enrichment and cultivation, we are still more than that.
We are SPIRIT.
We are spirit like God, spirit created by God.
We are created images of God.
It is SPIRIT that makes, completes and authenticates our humanity.
Because we ARE spirit, we CAN rise above our bodily needs by delaying or setting aside their satisfaction when necessary— and even when not necessary.
Unless we learn to do that, we never grow up.
Growing up concerns not just the needs of the body, but also the needs of the mind and the emotions.
Because we are spirit, we are also able to delay or set aside the satisfying of our intellectual and emotional needs.
Unless we learn to do also that, we never mature.
Ultimately, this all means that the human spirit that God created can only reach maturity and fulfillment by saying yes to what is BEYOND and GREATER THAN bodily, intellectual and emotional well-being and satisfaction.
Our spirits were made FOR God.
Our spirits were made BY God.
Our spirits were made LIKE God.
So, we will have no rest or final satisfaction except IN God.
Those who suffer, die or even merely live peaceably for the sake of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the Spirit, have dignity and a nobility that surpass the splendor of any flower or meadow.
Consider Mother Teresa.
Even non-Christians and the secular world recognized in her the peaceful dignity and nobility of those who seek above all else the kingdom of God.
That extraordinary woman worked herself hard.
However, even ORDINARY daily living always requires some degree of self-denial and hard-working discipline.
Discipline of our body, our thoughts and our feelings, particularly when such discipline goes beyond the ordinary in the form of active asceticism, penances and mortification— that kind of discipline can only be justified and IS justified by the fact that we are LIVING SPIRITS.
To recognize and obey the fact that we are spirits is not only to recognize and obey our true human nature.
It is also to recognize and obey God’s kingship and justice.
Unless we do that, unless we seek first God’s kingship and justice, we are in danger of making food, clothes, money, learning and good feelings into IDOLS— false gods that stand above us as our masters, reducing us to a slavery that is less than truly human.
We cannot serve such masters and at the same time be free for God or for ourselves.
However, if we truly acknowledge and pursue the kingdom of God— the kingdom where our own spirits RULE together with God— then all the rest will at least be in its proper place— perhaps not in satisfying measure until the final resurrection, but at least everything will be in its proper place, instead of in the place of God.
Only in that way can we ever begin to be satisfied and complete.
If we seek first the kingdom of God and his holy justice, then REAL satisfaction will finally be ours— together with the immeasurable, everlasting treasure of heaven.

That God Be Glorified in All