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.

April 15, 2008

For Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 10:22-30
Acts 11:19-26

Today in the Gospel it is the feast of the Dedication of the Temple of God in Jerusalem.
The Temple: men consecrated a place in the universe solely to the worship of the One God.
The Word of the Lord spells out the words the ancient People of God are to use in voicing daily and everywhere their faith in the True God.
Hear, O Israel,
the Lord our God,
the Lord is One.

Those words are the ancient Biblical “creed” of the Living and True God— the “One.”
The Gospel words of Jesus today are a deadly blasphemy in the ears of Israel, a deadly blasphemy inside the House of God, a deadly blasphemy in the universe.
The Father and I are one.

Today the Gospel reading ends right there.
The line immediately after it says the people picked up stones to pound Jesus to death for his blasphemy.
We can be sure at least some of them screamed the ancient Hebrew creed.
SHEMA ISRAEL
ADONAI ELOHENU
ADONAI EHA

Hear, O Israel,
the Lord our God,
the Lord is One.

Jesus escaped that day, but later they crucified him for today’s blasphemy and others.
The Father and I are one.

Jesus with the Father and the Holy Spirit is One God.
Today the people have asked Jesus to say plainly that he is the Christ, the one God anointed with his Spirit.
He has already told them, but today he goes farther, too far, calling himself one with the Father who is God.
To obey the voice of the Christ is to receive eternal life from him.
In the Word of the Lord in the first reading today, we hear again of Stephen whom Israel succeeded in stoning to death because he repeated the blasphemy that Jesus and the Father are one.
“Those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch.”
“It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.”
The Word of the Lord tells us Antioch was the birthplace of the name “Christian”— but only after St. Paul spent a year teaching there.
St. Paul also defied the creed of Israel, teaching, like St. Stephen and Jesus himself that Jesus and the Father are one.
Without killing Paul, people stoned him.
Paradoxically, with Paul’s help, people had stoned Stephen to death before Paul’s own conversion.
They had wanted to stone Jesus for saying in his Gospel today, “The Father and I are one.”
None of us here has been stoned to death— obviously!
But have any of us survived a stoning or other suffering for having proclaimed our Lord Jesus Christ as Light from Light, True God from True God?
Or, rather, have we never suffered persecution for the Christ— Jesus— because we simply kept silent, and chose to be one with the crowd and its ways?
Would anyone be able to accuse us of hearing the voice of Jesus, accuse us of following him, call us “Christian” as they did in Antioch?
In his Gospel today he tells us:
My sheep ... follow me
I give them eternal life

Even by his Body and Blood, Christ offers eternal life to those who follow him, but do we really follow him, and thereby really accept the eternal life he would give us?
Here in this temple of God, the Body and Blood of Christ are a sacrificial feast by which he gives eternal life to those who follow him.
Can Christ tell we are his followers?
Would Christ call us “Christians”?

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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