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 23, 2008

For Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

John 15:1-8
Acts 15:1-6

The Word of the Lord in the first reading today recalls the question in the first days of the Church about God’s ancient law of circumcision for the men of his Chosen People.
Peter, Paul, and all the apostles met, talked about it, and decided circumcision of the male body was not part of the New and Everlasting Covenant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, the Lord’s Gospel today is about a different kind of cutting that is always necessary— and not just for males.
Today Christ says his word or teachings are his Father’s tools for cutting out of our lives whatever is unclean, weak, ungenerous, and unfruitful.
This spiritual pruning, or spiritual circumcision, is for the sake of spiritual LIFE and spiritual GROWTH.
Right after today’s words, the Lord goes on to tell the reason and goal of spiritual circumcision.
I have told you this so that MY JOY
may be IN YOU,
might be COMPLETE.

A grapevine that never receives guidance, direction, correction, and training by cutting or pruning just grows wild.
It will not be as strong and fruitful as a wisely pruned one.
The wild vine can have lots of stems and leaves, but fewer grapes and smaller ones than a vine that has been pruned to train its growth.
The Father’s tool for trimming and shaping us is the teaching of Christ.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you....

By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit
and become my disciples.

If we have never felt the Gospel cutting us, perhaps we have not been listening honestly.
The Lord accepts us as we are, but then he gets to work cutting us, pruning us, for growth, for fruitfulness, and for joy.
If we do listen honestly to the Gospel, perhaps we feel that it goes beyond our natural strengths.
The Lord knows it, so he says today:
If... my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want
and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father GLORIFIED,
that you bear much fruit
and become my disciples.

The fruit we are to bear is God’s glory and joy shining from our human weakness.
Remember: on the joyful day of his resurrection glory, the signs he gave to confirm his identity were signs of weakness and brokenness.
The Risen One in Emmaus showed who he was through BROKEN bread.
Later that day, the Glorified One proved who he was by showing the WOUNDS in his hands, feet, and side.
We, his disciples, need to let his word cut into our lives and expect fruit from us.
After all, here in the Eucharist, we expect the Lord to allow us to bite into his life and swallow it.
In his Eucharist, the Lord’s Risen Body is really present as broken for us, and his Living Blood is really present as poured out for us.
Wounded in giving glory to his Father, wounded by forgiving our sins, wounded in serving the good of mankind— wounded, yet risen, alive, victorious, full of glory and joy!
If we never let the word of Christ cut us, then in the end we shall not bear and know the fruit of everlasting joy and glory.
If we welcome the cutting, then we may also dare to ask— as Christ tells us to ask— to be marked forever by the glory and joy of God.

That God Be Glorified in All


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