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 22, 2008

For the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter

Matthew 16:13-19

Existing documents show today’s feast was on the Church calendar before A.D. 354.
That’s roughly thirty years before both the publication of the official list of the books of the Bible and the settlement of how to schedule the annual solemnity of the Resurrection.
Enough to make a Bible-thumper tremble!
Why is the “chairmanship” of St. Peter so important in Christianity that it made it into "published history" before the official Bible and Easter?
The Gospel of today opens a way towards the answer.
With Christ backing and upholding him, St. Peter sits at the head of the Church’s history.
Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, blessed Simon to be the Rock upon which Christ builds and still builds his Church.
Today in the Gospel, we see the day Jesus had Simon name the name the Father in heaven made known.
“You are the Christ the Son of the Living God.”
Simon knows from the Father of heaven the name of the Son of heaven.
In turn, the Son give Simon a new name, “Rock”—Petros—“Peter.”
In this Gospel, we hear all this naming, together with talk of building, binding, loosing, heaven, earth.
It is a new beginning.
In the first beginning, in Paradise, the Lord God gave to Adam, the first man, the role of being the binding and loosing of creation.
The Lord God gathered up the energies and stuff of the universe— “the dust of the earth”— and bound them together to build the body of Adam.
Then the Lord God breathed his Spirit into the binding, and thereby in man God loosed the universe with the wherewithal and freedom to know the Creator, to speak with him, and to enjoy the knowing and the speaking.
The Lord God also gave man the freedom to speak about the universe, to name and acknowledge its living creatures in the presence of the Creator.
In man in Paradise, the universe was both bound together for its own sake, but also loosed inside man, loosed spiritually, free for God.
But man went astray from God.
And the gates of the netherworld left scars on man.
Creation’s binding came apart, so that even man’s body and his soul began the divorce called death.
Creation, heaven, and earth, needed to be bound together again, so that man would be loosed again from within.
Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is the whole of heaven and earth bound together in man, and loosed in the Spirit to know and be with God again face to face.
Today in his Gospel, we see the Son of the Living God give to Simon the binding and loosing of heaven and earth, so that through and upon Simon Peter as bedrock, the Son of the Living God calls and builds creation into his Church.
On the very day the Lord God remarried heaven with earth in the resurrection of Christ, Simon Peter began to call, to bind, and to loose.
When two disciples returned from Emmaus to Jerusalem the same day, the Church greeted them with the authoritative testimony of Simon Peter.
“It is so, the Lord is risen, and he appeared to Simon.” [Lk. 24:34]
The Church as a whole did not see, but let the prophetic testimony of Simon bind the Church to the truth of the resurrection, and thus loose the Church to testify to the resurrection to this day still in its teaching that gave rise to the books of the Gospels and New Testament.
On the day of the Lord’s Resurrection, Simon Peter is the Prophet witnessing to the Resurrection within and for the Church.
Forty days later, the Risen Lord ascends into heaven, and Simon Peter the Prophet testifies again, but also steps forward as a king, binding the Church to choose the first successor of an apostle as bishop to testify to the resurrection.
Simon Peter, Prophet and King, then spends the next ten days as a Priest in the Church, gathering the Church in devoted prayer, together with Mary the mother of Jesus, to beg the Creator to breathe the Spirit into creation again through the Body of the Church.
On the Fiftieth Day of the Resurrection, with signs and power of the Spirit, Simon Peter, Prophet, Priest, and King, leads the Church from the Upper Room, from the Eucharistic Chamber, out into the world, to prophesy about the resurrection.
When his listeners from all over creation asked him then what they should do, he acted as a king, and commanded them.
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins!”
That same day, Simon Peter the Priest oversaw the baptism of about three thousand souls, binding them to the resurrection in order to loose them for the resurrection, building creation into the Church of the Christ the Son of the Living God.
Here we are still, the Church, thanks to the “chairmanship” of Simon Peter and his obedience to Christ.
Here we are in the Upper Room, the Eucharistic Birth Chamber, with Simon Peter and all the communion of apostles and saints, devoted to prayer together with Mary the mother of Jesus.
Here with all of them, we celebrate in the Body and Blood of Christ the signs and power of the Holy Spirit, that we may truly rejoice to be made children of the heavenly Father, as priests, prophets, and kings calling and binding all creation together, that all on earth may be loosed for heaven.

That God Be Glorified in All

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