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 15, 2007

For the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15

In September of 1990 I was ordained a deacon in the abbey of Einsiedeln, Switzerland. By the summer of 1991 I had completed my theological studies in Rome and returned to my monastery in California. Although I had assisted as a deacon at many Masses, I had never preached a homily as a deacon until August 15, 1991, when my abbot asked me to preach the homily that day. It was my first homily ever.
Here it is.

Luke 1:39-56
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6,10
1 Corinthians 15:20-26

Nine days ago we were present at the Transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Tabor.
Today, in this liturgy, heaven’s glory is again unveiled before our eyes and given to us as a promise of our destiny.
Yet, that happens in exactly every single liturgy we celebrate.
That is one danger for a monastic community: the daily celebration of our salvation in the Eucharist can become just another moment in our everyday routines.
Let us never forget that in each and every celebration of the Eucharist God again sends the Spirit upon our offerings of bread and wine that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The same happened at our baptism: the Spirit was given to us so that sinners might be reborn as children of God.
The same Spirit clothed Jesus in glory on Mt. Tabor.
The same Spirit of holiness overshadowed the Church at Pentecost with the life and power of God.
Mary was present among the apostles after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus into glory.
The Scripture tells us that with Mary in their company the apostles devoted themselves to constant prayer, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit.
However, perhaps Mary did not have to wait for the coming of the Spirit in exactly the same way as the others.
For the Holy Spirit had already come upon her some thirty years before, overshadowing her with the power of the Most High God, and bringing to birth in her the holy child Jesus, the Son of God.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God took his own sinless flesh and blood from MARY.
Sinless flesh and blood— FROM MARY!
“Like mother, like son.”
However, Mary’s special holiness does not consist in her son being like her.
Rather, her unique holiness consists in her being like her son.
“Like Son, like mother.”
For the sake of forming Christ the Sinless New Adam, God prepared a New Clay, a New Earth: sinless Mary.
Like Son, like mother!
In his Ascension, Jesus in his Risen and Glorified flesh and blood passed from our sight into the glory of heaven.
In a similar way, when her human life had run its natural course, she who was and remains forever the sinless, flesh and blood mother of God, Mary, was taken away, soul and body, into the glory of heaven.
Mary’s being assumed into heaven, which we celebrate today, is also OUR destiny.
A destiny already fully realized in Mary, it has also been PROMISED to us, and it has ALREADY begun.
God has said to us in the letter to the Ephesians that:
both with and in Christ Jesus
he raised us up
and GAVE us a place in the heavens,
that in the ages to come
he might display the great wealth of his favor,
manifested by his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. [2:6-7]

All this already began to be true in our baptism, when by the power of the Holy Spirit we became God’s children.
We became God’s flesh and blood.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary is the flesh and blood mother of God.
She is our mother too.
We were given to her at the foot of the cross of Jesus, and she to us.
“Behold, your mother!”
Like mother, bodily assumed into heaven, so also one day the children.
In a few moments, Fr. Abbot, in the midst of this gathered assembly, will ask God to send the Holy Spirit upon our offerings of bread and wine.
Then the power of God will again overshadow this very gathering— just as at every Eucharistic liturgy— just as at our baptism— just as at the first Pentecost— and just as at Nazareth when the power of the Most High overshadowed Mary.
Here in a few moments, the Holy Spirit will come upon our bread and wine, and God who is mighty will again work great things for us, giving us the flesh and blood of his Son, and assuming us into his own life and glory.
We can recall that in the Old Testament the Levites— those “deacons” of ancient Israel— carried the Ark of the Covenant with poles upon their shoulders.
The Ark of the Covenant was the place of God’s presence.
The people of Israel danced in front of the Ark, singing their joy at God’s presence.
Mary was also an Ark of the Covenant, for in her womb she carried Christ— “God Who Is with Us.”
In celebrating today’s feast, we also carry Mary upon our shoulders.
With her we process around the altar of God’s presence in the flesh and blood of Christ, singing for joy Mary’s own song.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations shall call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me

God who is mighty has done great things for US.
Praiseworthy, glorious, blessed and holy is his name forever and ever.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 13, 2007

For Tuesday of the Nineteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14

One of the charges that some religious hypocrites leveled against Jesus was that he welcomed sinners and ate with them.
In the teaching of Jesus, the same charge can be made of God: God searches for repentant sinners, welcomes them, and eats with them.
Christ tells a lesson about one stray sheep out of a flock of one hundred.
The owner risks his other ninety-nine sheep, leaving them and searching for the one gone astray.
At the end of this lesson Christ points out the meaning he intends: God, our Father in heaven, is happier over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
We quite correctly understand Christ himself to be the Good Shepherd.
Whenever any one of us acknowledges himself to be a sinner and calls out for the mercy of Christ, we can surely trust that our shepherd comes looking for us.
However, we can also understand that the Son of God was born a man of flesh and blood to take our place as the “One Great Lost Sheep”, the “Lamb of God”.
In Christ’s human life on earth, a life of perfect obedience and love, all of us and all human life are found and brought back by God.
Through faith and baptism, through our own lives of faith, hope, sacrificial love and charity, each one of us gains a participation in the life of Christ, and the life of Christ himself is poured out into our lives.
This we celebrate now in the Eucharist of Christ the Lamb of God.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 12, 2007

For the Nineteenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Luke 12:32-48

What Christ says today is ominous, and St. Peter asks, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
St. Peter seems to want to avoid the issue, because he asked his question right after the Lord said, “YOU also must be prepared, for at an hour YOU do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
My believer!
My disciple!
YOU, be prepared!
I am coming back when YOU do not expect.
Like a thief breaking into YOUR house,
I am going to surprise YOU.

The Lord is aiming his words at Christians.
He is putting out a challenge.
When St. Peter’s question appears to calculate whether the challenge is for disciples or not, the Lord answers him with something MORE severe than before.
If I, the Master,
return to find you behaving irresponsibly and offensively,
I shall punish you.
You shall receive a severe beating.

Today we have an uncomfortable and severe Gospel.
Just the same, let us keep in mind that God has promised we shall inherit the untold and endless riches of Christ.
Indeed, in the Eucharist of Christ today and everyday we eat and drink untold and endless riches in the Flesh and Blood of Christ himself.
The Eucharist is endlessly greater than anything else in creation.
As he entrusts his unspeakable wealth to us in his Eucharist today, let us also take to heart his Gospel today.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

That God Be Glorified in All