One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

+ + +

The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

October 25, 2007

For Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 12:49-53
Romans 6:19-23

Our goal is eternal life, and the way there is a holy fire that sets us free, burns us pure, and takes us away from our slavery to sin— a holy fire that leaves us authenticated, rectified, restored, awakened, raised up, fulfilled, reborn for the joy and glory of eternal life.
The word of the Lord in the first reading today puts it thus:
now that you have been freed from sin
and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.

Sanctification, the work of becoming holy, is a fire that Christ sets.
I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!

God’s holy fire is first of all faith that the Son of God in Flesh and Blood has come to save us.
If we choose to believe and follow him, our belief will divide us from those who do not believe and follow him.
However, the division that Christ brings must also happen inside each of us.
Each of us is divided between sin and God.
The Father, Christ, and the Spirit lead, teach, help and enable us to cross the divide.
The crossing is a cross, a crucifixion.
Christ knew it, and that is what he says today.
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!

Having come to the Church at this hour— or long before, at baptism— you and I have set foot already on the road behind Christ.
He is a few steps and a few moments ahead of us— in his Eucharist.
In his Flesh and Blood, Christ freely chooses to be the servant of our salvation and of the Father’s glory.
In the Eucharist, we eat and drink Christ’s choice to be a servant.
To choose the Eucharist is to choose to be servants in our own sanctification and servants of the Father’s glory.
Christ is our trailblazing pioneer, and so are his witnesses, the saints.
The Word of the Lord to the Hebrews [12:1-2] tells us how to live the Eucharist of Christ.
Since so great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us,
let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely.
Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
For the joy that was set before him,
he endured the cross,
despising the shame.
Now he sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

If we want eternal joy and life, we need to race and catch fire.
We already have fire that God gives in baptism.
We need to choose to serve as willing fuel, to burn brightly with God’s glory giving light to the world.
We fan the flames with prayer, worship of God, and service to neighbors.
The Spirit blazes in the Eucharistic Flesh and Blood of the Risen Christ, telling and enabling us to jump in.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 23, 2007

For Tuesday of the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Romans 5:12,15b,17-19,20b-21

To sum up the Word of the Lord in the first reading today:
Condemnation, death, and the increase of sin
came to everyone in the world through one man’s sin of disobedience.
Even more, however,
the righteousness and obedience of one man, Jesus Christ,
now have led to the free gifts of acquittal, righteousness and eternal life
for all men in the abundance of God’s grace.

Through baptism from the Church we have received the free gifts of God.
God in Christ has freed us to be free IN God, free FOR God, free WITH God, free LIKE God.
Freedom is alive not in merely doing what one liked, but in doing good.
If freedom meant a right to do whatever one liked, then we would have to accept and respect sins that others might commit against us in their freedom to do as they liked.
Freedom lives and grows only in choosing to do good.
The utter and everlasting fulfillment of freedom is Christ.
His upright goodness is the fulfillment, perfection, pattern, and goal of freedom.
To follow Christ is to follow freedom.
He tells us in his Gospel today:
be like servants who await their master’s return
ready to open immediately when he knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.

Waiting for the Lord consists in taking responsibility for every free choice we make in all our actions and attitudes.
Waiting for the Lord is also prayer.
To wait in prayer is to be aware that something we need and want is missing, and that it comes in the person of the Lord.
In his Eucharist, the Lord is really with us always.
His Eucharist is also his ever-present final return.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival
he will have them recline at table,
and he will wait on them.

In his Eucharist, the Master waits on his servants.
In his Eucharist, though he comes among us as one who serves, he remains both the standard and the judge of our service.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.

As the standard of our service, Christ in his Eucharist freely places himself utterly at our disposal, ready to be consumed for our good.
Yet, in this he is also already our judge, for he measures us by what we freely dare to receive.
The Word of the Lord tells us when we receive his Eucharist we eat and drink judgment.
The Risen One tells us in his Gospel today and his Eucharist everyday:
Be watchful and ready!
I am already really present.

Even in his Eucharist, he is coming “again in glory to judge the living and the dead”— as we say every Sunday in the Creed— he is Judge of the Living and the Dead, even in his Eucharist.

That God Be Glorified in All

October 21, 2007

For the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Today, 21 October, is a liturgical solemnity in my monastery. Our solemnity today is the anniversary of the dedication of our monastery’s church, for which our abbot presides and preaches. I posted something on my other blog about the dedication of churches. Because of our solemnity today, my monastery is not using the texts for the Mass of the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Sunday. Nonetheless, here is a re-worked version of a homily I wrote some time ago for the Gospel that belongs to the twenty-ninth Sunday.

Luke 18:1-8

Five Sundays from today will be the last Sunday of the Church’s ritual year.
As the Lord comes to us in his Gospel during these final weeks, he speaks often of the end of time when he will return to judge the living and the dead, and to give vindication to his chosen ones.
Today in his Gospel, he says he will look for and recognize his chosen ones by their faith.
We can express our faith in words, as we shall do in the Creed, the Profession of Faith, in a few moments.
However, the Creed and our faith are dead in us, unless they at least begin to cost us in the way we live, the attitudes we maintain, the decisions we make and the actions we carry out.
We need to cultivate a living faith that the Lord will find worthy of vindicating at the end.
Today he tells us this cultivation of living faith comes about through persistent and relentless PRAYER, never losing heart, but respecting God and having concern for our fellow human beings.
Today the Lord gives the example of a complaining widow who chooses to risk provoking a judge to anger.
She does not hesitate to cause the judge annoyance and discomfort.
She is daring, persistent and relentless.
She is a painful, pestering nag.
To pray the way she nags is not easy, not comfortable, and not comforting.
The complaining widow knows that nothing has more value for her than to receive vindication from the judge.
Without it, she shall suffer or die because of poverty.
The complaining widow nags the judge to death, because it is a life or death question for the widow.
In the same way, our prayer needs to spring from the recognition that nothing has more value for us than to receive vindication from God.
Prayer dares to stand before God who has the right to turn a deaf ear and to refuse.
As we pray, we are mindful that God made us out of nothing; and— if he does not act for us— we have and are nothing.
Prayer presses the case like a widow making a desperate display of her poverty.
Prayer unveils its own emptiness before God.
Give us THIS day our daily bread.

That’s what Jesus taught us to pray.
“Give us THIS day... we want it NOW.”
“Give us NOW what will satisfy us FOREVER.”
If God does not act, we lose everything.
ON THE OTHER HAND... if WE do not stand up to press the case, God will not force the issue— BUT NEITHER WILL HE DISMISS THE CASE IN THE END.
As we heard him ask us today:
When the Son of man comes,
WILL he find faith on earth?

To the very end, God will respect it as a choice of life or death that he left us free to decide.
When the Son of Man comes,
WILL he find faith on earth?

A life of prayer and faith hands itself over to the WORK and the JUDGMENT of God.
The life of prayer and faith finds its deepest SOURCE and highest GOAL here in the Lord’s Eucharist.
Here in his true flesh and blood Christ hands himself over to the Judge for us.
This is my body
This is my blood
that sins may be FORGIVEN

We eat and drink the flesh and blood of a CONDEMNED MAN who chose to be condemned in OUR place and for OUR sins.
He handed himself over to the work and the judgment of his Father.
Here in the real presence of his own relentless persistence unto death, we receive from Christ the offer of a judgment of justice, vindication and holiness from his Father.
Here in the breaking and outpouring of Christ himself, he offers us completion, fulfillment.
In his breaking and outpouring of himself, he offers us the fullness of our human integrity together with the fullness of his own DIVINE INTEGRITY.
It is not magic.
It is a gift to be used, a gift to be lived.
We have only to unveil our emptiness and vulnerability, and begin to let go of false fulfillments— and THEN we can begin to see and appreciate the wealth of God’s provident mercy.
That is the Good News, the Gospel— poured out with nagging insistence in the lifeblood of Christ.

That God Be Glorified in All