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.

December 08, 2007

For the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

[In the monastery, the abbot normally is always the one who presides and preaches at the Mass for today. Here is a homily I wrote last year for a Mass with students of a Catholic gradeschool.]

A Homily for Schoolchildren

Luke 1:26-38

“Immaculate Conception” … those big words are the name we give to Mary today.
Mary is the “Immaculate Conception.”
Those words mean that Mary’s life began without her being touched in any way by sin.
Before God even made Mary, he already had a plan that her whole life would be the preparation for Jesus later to come down from heaven to be her baby.
Today in the Gospel reading, we see that God sent an angel to Mary.
The angel calls Mary, “Full of Grace.”
God sent the angel to say that Mary is ALREADY full of grace.
That is strange, because only God is “Full of Grace.”
When the angel calls Mary, “Full of Grace,” it does not mean that Mary is God.
It means that Mary is different from all other people on earth.
After the angel of God calls Mary, “Full of Grace,” the angel tells her that the power of the Holy Spirit is going to help Mary.
The angel also tells Mary that the Son of God is going to come down from heaven to be Mary’s baby.
The angel says that Mary’s baby is going to grow up and save the whole world.
Mary understands that her baby is going to be important, special and holy.
Mary understands that God wants to do something important, special and holy by making her the mother of this baby.
So, Mary tells the angel, “Yes, I will obey the plan of God, and I will do whatever he wants me to do.”
Even though Mary is special, God wants us to be like her.
Because the Son of God came down from heaven to become also the Son of Mary, you and I are closer to God now.
One day, just like Mary, you and I will no longer be touched by sin.
Later on, after Jesus died and came back to life, and then stepped up into heaven, Mary stayed with the apostles of Jesus.
One day, while the apostles were praying together with Mary, the Holy Spirit came down on the apostles and gave them special power.
So, because Mary prayed with the apostles, the Holy Spirit of God came and gave the apostles special power.
With that special power from the Holy Spirit, the apostles told three thousand men to love Jesus and join the church.
Because of that special power from the Holy Spirit, those three thousand men listened.
They decided to love Jesus and join the Church.
It happened because the apostles were praying with Mary the mother of Jesus.
When good things happen to people and to the Church, it is because Mary and the apostles are praying for God’s Holy Spirit to help us.
That’s why one of our most important prayers says:
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

That God Be Glorified in All

December 02, 2007

For the First Sunday of Advent, the First Day of the Church Year

Isaiah 2:1-5
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

The Word of the Lord, in the first reading, foretold what all of us did this morning.
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob.”
His foretelling also has why we came to this hilltop house of the Lord.
“That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”
“O ... come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!”
We have come to God’s house “that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths” and by his light.
The beacon of the Lord’s house shines in the second reading as well.
“Let us ... throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Even had I been too sick to be here today, I have long and willingly stood on my Baptism as counting me among those of God’s household, who choose to be instructed in his ways, to walk in his paths and by his light.
By my own choice, I have made myself answerable for my choice.
So, as the ancient word of the Lord foretells today again, the Lord “shall judge” and “impose terms.”
The Lord “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
Since today we have chosen to be here in the House of the Lord again, we have chosen also to make ourselves answerable again for his instruction, his ways, his paths, his light, his judgments, and his terms.
How will it be at the coming of the Son of Man?
Will he save us or lose us?
That is up to us now, because he has already opened the door of his house, and extended his invitation, and we have accepted it.
We must stay ready, for at an hour we do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Like the appearance of bread, but the reality of his Body, and like the appearance of wine, but the reality of his Blood, the day of Christ’s return will remain unrecognizable until it’s real presence.
He tells us today in his Gospel that at an hour we DO NOT EXPECT he will come.
Finally, in the public sight of all flesh, to the dismay of history and the delight of faith, he will return, breaking in like a thief at an unknown hour of night.
Should I die before then, I will nonetheless stand before him, the Judge of the living and the dead.
One of the “good works” in the teaching of St. Benedict is for a monk “to keep death daily before his eyes.”
On what path would my death or the Second Coming find me today?
The choice is mine everyday and in all things.
If I choose the good work of being always ready either for death or the Second Coming, then I will find eternal rest and joy in the perpetual light of paradise face to face with God.
If I have not bothered at all to be ready, God will not bother me at all, any more, and forever.
He will save those who stand ready, but he will abandon me to the path I have chosen.
He says it in his Gospel today: “one will be taken, and one will be left ... one will be taken, and one will be left.”
At least the first half of the season of Advent keeps death and the Second Coming daily before our eyes.
Not until the octave day before Christmas does Advent stare straight at Christmas.
To spend these days of Advent SHOPPING for the goods of this world, more than PRAYING to be good in the world, is to tell Christ, “We’re throwing a Christmas party, but we are not inviting you.”
To prepare now for Christmas, but ignore the final Advent of Christ as Judge of the living and the dead, is to drive out the person, the mission, and the promise of Christ, thereby to drive out our own everlasting joy.
It is to turn our celebration of Christ’s Mass into a binge of self-deception.

That God Be Glorified in All