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.

February 19, 2008

For Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Matthew 23:1-12

In his Gospel today, God in Christ our Master tells us things to do and things to shun.
Christ our Master humbled himself as a man, and for that the Father exalted him.
Christ, the Greatest One among us, obliged himself to be our servant.
We are to be servants and humble.
We are to be mindful that all mastery, all fatherhood, all teaching, and all honorableness are from God.
Even though men might be instruments well or badly of these things, God alone is the maker and beginning of mastery, fatherhood, teaching, and honorableness.
We are to seek honor— honor for God, not for ourselves.
We are to do good works, but not make a show of it.
We are to help people carry heavy burdens.
We are to preach and to practice what we preach.
We are to obey the commandments when the legalists and the uppity, the scribes and the Pharisees, tell us to do so, because they teach the commandments Moses heard from God himself.
The first of God’s commandments for our dealings with people is, “Honor your father and your mother.”
God puts father and mother first in line right after himself, right after his commandments about the honor we are to pay to God.
After all, God is our creator, but he created us through our fathers and our mothers.
Honor paid to them for our lives is honor paid to God.
Then, how is it Jesus today seems to tell us to DIS-honor our earthly fathers?
“Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.”
Jesus also tells us not to call our teachers “Rabbi,” meaning “Master.”
If we are to obey Jesus literally, then we must also shun the word “Mr.” and the word “Mrs.,” because both come from “master.”
If we are not to acknowledge earthly teachers, then we must also shun the word, “Doctor,” because it comes from the Latin word for “teacher.”
So, then, which of the teachings of Jesus are we to do by the letter, and what if they seem to be at odds with one of God’s commandments?
“Honor your father and your mother,” but “Call no one on earth your father.”
Which way do we go?
Jesus today gives us a path for unfolding the meaning and the aim of God’s teachings, a path that we might at times find foul, and upon which me might at times stumble.
The scribes and the Pharisee have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you

Even in his Church, Jesus would have us do humbly and observe humbly what he hear from those who have the chair of law.
Jesus humbled himself beneath sinners.
If we would be his disciples, then we must take up the same cross as he did, and follow him, even in the life of the Church.
Though his cowardly apostles would betray, deny, abandon him, and run away, he told them:
He who hears you hears me,
and he who rejects you rejects me,
and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. [Lk. 10:16]

After they had indeed betrayed, denied, abandoned him, and run away, they did not go back to him.
Rather it was he who came back to them.
Raised above death, he sought them out who were still in hiding.
He was faithful to the unfaithful, and he did not withdraw his stance.
He who hears you hears me,
and he who rejects you rejects me,
and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. [Lk. 10:16]

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.... [Mt. 28:19‑20]

Weak, failed, and broken human tools nonetheless teach and give to men the life of God Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
When we call men “father” in the Church, it is not for them, but for God who gives his life to us through them.
We are not to honor God’s human instruments for themselves, but for God who chooses to work for us through them.
In his New and Everlasting Covenant, God in Christ makes use even of food and drink.
In his Eucharistic Body and Blood, Christ Risen and Exalted at the Right Hand of the Father still humbles himself.
The Greatest One is still among us as our servant, as our food, and as our drink.

That God Be Glorified in All


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