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.

July 06, 2008

Posting nearly a week later: the homily I preached last Monday.

For Monday of the Thirteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 8:18-22

Today in his Gospel Jesus is still near the start of his missionary journey.
Several times on the way he will say he is to undergo betrayal and execution in Jerusalem.
When he finally turns to his journey’s last leg, his Gospel says:
When the days drew near for him to be received up,
he SET HIS FACE to go to Jerusalem. [See Luke 9:51-62]

Today in his Gospel, we see him already SET on his intensive and intentional mission.
He speaks to two men about following him to Jerusalem.
The first hears there shall be no place to call home.
the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head

Foxes have dens
birds have nests

Monks have cells.
the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head

Jesus has not asked his followers to repeat the physical, historical details of his missionary journey.
Nonetheless, our Benedictine vow of stability in one monastery for life can have the downside of our becoming spiritually stagnant packrats, instead of true followers of Jesus.
The second man in the Gospel today hears that to be alive in following Jesus to Jerusalem he must forego his beloved without so much as a farewell either for the living or the dead.
To leave house and family would leave a man vulnerable.
The intensity and intention of Jesus himself was to be vulnerable— vulnerable in having his closest, handpicked companions betray and abandon him— and vulnerable unto death at the hands of men.
In the monastery we do not have the vulnerability of being homeless missionaries.
A son of Benedict has a place to rest his head all the days of his life.
Monks are a brotherly household, and we bury our own dead.
Jesus has not called us to be homeless, betrayed, wanderers in the Holy Land or anywhere else.
Nonetheless, he has called us all to intensity and vulnerability, to take up some kind of cross as his disciple.
To choose to be vulnerable is a dangerous and strong thing to do.
Without vulnerability no intimacy is possible.
God’s intimacy, God’s deep and high Holy Communion with humanity has its deepest and highest in his taking a personal share in human suffering and death: God-with-us-even-unto-death.
He chose to open himself to all of it— open physically, emotionally, intellectually, and willingly.
He even opened heaven itself to the deadly wounds of the cross, wounds he still bears, though he rose in triumph from three days of death.
“He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.”
Now, in the intimate depths of heaven, even the throne of God bears human mortal wounds and vulnerability.
Because of that, we dare with St. Benedict to set our faces on staking out a dangerous and strong claim on God’s intimacy:
Receive me, Lord, according to your word,
and I shall live;
and do not disappoint me in my hope.

That God Be Glorified in All


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