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.

September 30, 2007

For the Twenty-Sixth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

[It is not my turn to preside at Mass today in the monastery. The following is from a past homily of mine on today’s Gospel. ]

Luke 16:19-31

Today our Lord tells of the impassable abyss that separates the thoughtless life of a rich man and the misery of a poor man named Lazarus.
Lazarus lies at the gate of the rich man, and can see the mindless extravagance that goes on in the rich man’s home.
The rich man, for his part, can easily see poor Lazarus, covered with sores, lying outside his gate.
Dirty stray dogs show more interest in Lazarus than does the rich man— who is nameless like a stray dog.
Only to Lazarus— who does not speak in the story— only to Lazarus does the Lord give the dignity of a name.
This much of the story— this half of the story— already makes clear the mind of our Lord.
Everything that we have— everything that we are— is to be used prudently, wisely and generously for the glory of God and the good of others.
God, the Lord, does not recognize us if we close our eyes against our own self-indulgence— and if we shut our eyes and hearts against the poor.
Today our Lord invokes Moses and the prophets in favor of poor Lazarus, but against the thoughtless and heartless rich man.
The second half of the Lord’s Gospel today paints a picture of a man blessed in the words of the prophet for trusting in the Lord, and another picture of a man cursed in the words of the prophet for turning his own heart away from the Lord.
The rich man, whose unknown name is absent from the Book of Life, now lies in flaming torture among the dead and damned.
Now, not only is he denied even a single drop of water on his thirsty tongue— now, there is not even the cooling wetness of dog’s tongues against his begging skin, but only the licking of the flames.
For the blessed Lazarus instead, the prophet’s voice in Jesus proclaims that because of his faithful heart, God’s angels themselves have carried him to the first place next to Abraham in consolation.
In one of the Church’s traditional chants, she invokes the blessedness of Lazarus when a body is carried out of the church for burial.
May the choir of the angels receive you,
and together with Lazarus—
may you have everlasting rest.

However, the blessing upon Lazarus for his hope and faith in the Lord are not reserved just for the hereafter.
The place of honor at God’s banquet of consolation is ours NOW.
Here before us stands no table of some nameless rich man, but GOD’S table, the Altar of his Holy Name.
We feed here not on scraps that fall to the floor for dogs and beggars, but on the food of God’s children:
the Body and Blood and Divine Life of the Son of God,
our Lawgiver, Prophet and High Priest,
greater than Abraham,
greater than Moses and all the prophets.

He is risen from the dead.
He gives Himself as our food.
In this, God is much more than mindful of us, and much more than a wealthy almsgiver.
This is the reason for all our hope and faith.
His exceeding mindfulness of us, his exceeding goodness towards us— these are the reasons why he speaks to us in the prophets, asking us to lift up our hearts to himself, giving thanks to the Lord our God for it is fitting.
It is our duty, our salvation and the source of all blessing to give him thanks and praise with our words and our lives.

That God Be Glorified in All