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.

November 27, 2007

For Tuesday of the Thirty-Fourth and Final Week of the Church Year

Luke 21:5-11
Daniel 2:31-45

Today, the ancient prophecy tells of a stone hewn from a mountain without a hand being put to it—
a stone that becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth—
a stone that God sets up as a kingdom never to be destroyed or conquered, breaking all other kingdoms into pieces—
a stone that shall stand forever, even though temples of God come tumbling down.
Christ is that stone.
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We join the people in the Gospel today, asking Jesus:
when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?

Through his Church, Christ the Lord is already king of all creation, but, as the Catechism [680] testifies:
all things of this world are not yet subjected to him.
The triumph of Christ’s kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.

Before Christ returns, the Church will undergo a last trial that will shake many believers.
A “supreme religious deception” [CCC 675] will persecute the Church, and will promise people what seems to be a way out of their difficulties by taking them away from the truth in Christ and his Church.
The anti-Christian way will involve humanity glorifying itself instead of God in Christ.
Christ’s final royal triumph will not come by the Church gradually rising up in worldly victory on earth, but rather through the Church suffering persecution.
In her Catechism [677] the Church speaks of it as follows.
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover.
The kingdom will be fulfilled, then,
not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy,
but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil,
which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.
God’s triumph over the revolt of evil
will take the form of the Last Judgment
after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.

As always, as ever, the Eucharist spells it out for us.
Here, the Church presents herself at the altar of sacrifice.
She presents herself as wheat crushed into dust and ready to be devoured as bread.
She presents herself as grapes smashed and bled out for drinking.
Her appearance does not change.
She hands herself over in sacrifice.
Her appearance does not change.
The crushing and bleeding of wheat and grapes are not banished.
But God breaks into the sacrifice.
Body of Christ!
Blood of Christ!
But the appearance is still wheat ground and grapes smashed.
That is how the end will come.
The Church will suffer crushing and smashing.
Then God will break in and finally push aside the heavenly bridal veil to show that the Church that has suffered is his heavenly Body pulsing with his Blood.
If we want the glory that is the promise of the Eucharist, then we must also choose the suffering that is to come through our promise of fidelity to Christ and his Church.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 25, 2007

For the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe, the Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Final Sunday of the Church Year

[It is not my turn to preach today in the monastery. Here is a homily of mine from the past.]

Luke 23:35-43

At the cross, the leaders, soldiers and criminals all knew that God’s chosen, anointed king was supposed to be a savior— a man who would defeat all the nations and armies of the world in the name of God and his people.
Among the leaders, soldiers and criminals at the cross, only one of them had at least an inkling of faith in what God really had in mind for the Savior, the Chosen, the Anointed, the King.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

This confessed criminal dying at the side of Jesus did not ask or receive from Jesus release from his earthly punishment.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

This repentant criminal fully believed Jesus to be the king— the king dying but with a living kingdom greater than the grave.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Jesus answers the dying, repentant, believing sinner with the authority of God himself.
Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.

Paradise... the wondrous garden of peace and harmony with God— harmony with JESUS!
Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with ME in Paradise.

Paradise of the body, Paradise of the thinking mind, Paradise of the feelings, Paradise of the will in its choices— Paradise of body, mind, feelings and will all at peace and fulfillment with God.
How do we get there?
Jesus on the cross opens the royal door.
Jesus who is God opens Paradise from the cross.
However, a man must step up and knock to enter what God has opened.
Today a criminal stepped up to the open door and knocked.
He stepped up to the open door by confessing himself a sinner.
He stepped up to the open door by accepting the just punishment for his crimes.
He stepped up to the open door by affirming the holy innocence of Jesus.
He stepped up to the open door by believing and proclaiming Jesus as the King with power beyond death.
He stepped up to the open door by asking Jesus the King to remember him in his kingdom.
Today a criminal shows us how to step up and knock on the open door of our King.
However, how did our King open the door?
He offered a priestly sacrifice of his own life on the altar of the cross.
By doing so he entirely handed over to the Father’s glory the humanity— our humanity— that sin had snatched away.
The criminal asked the king only to remember him in his kingdom.
Jesus gave him much more than a royal promise of remembrance.
Sacrificing himself for that man’s sins, our sins and all humanity’s sins, Jesus the King told that repentant sinner that his kingdom is the Paradise of union with God, and that the kingdom would be his home that very day.
Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with ME in Paradise.

Today’s Gospel of our King’s cross tells of a full circle, a crown.
The top of the circle starts with the creation of our human race and our original home with God in Paradise.
The circle turns downwards through human sin.
Jesus the King— by the will of the Father and power of the Spirit— Jesus the King meets and joins the sinner at the bottom of the circle: death.
The sinner, by confessing his sin and by faith in the King, the sinner chooses to grasp the open hand of the King.
The King throws himself into the glory of the Father by dying for the Father on behalf of sinners— and now the circle is turning upwards.
The Father draws the circle, the crown, to its triumphant completion by raising humanity back into Paradise through the flesh and blood resurrection of his royal Son.
God the Father now sends his royal Son, with the power of the Holy Spirit, to reach down from Paradise... reaching down for us with his open hand in the Eucharist, his Body and Blood.
We take his open hand not merely by eating and drinking his Body and Blood.
We take his saving, royal hand by imitating the repentant criminal in today’s Gospel:
responsibly confessing himself a sinner;

accepting the just consequences for his sins;

affirming the innocence of Jesus;

believing and proclaiming Jesus to be the King with power beyond death;

asking Jesus the King to remember him in the kingdom.

You and I must do the same not only by our words, but also by the way we live.
In the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus, Paradise is open and offered to us.
Nonetheless, we do not even begin to step up and knock sincerely on the door of the Eucharist unless we live as people who know they have a King whom they sincerely love and serve.
We have a King.
May our lives make him known!

That God Be Glorified in All