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.

June 01, 2008

For the Ninth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Matthew 7:21-27
Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28
Romans 3:21-25,28.

In all three readings today, the Lord calls us to one goal.
Through Blessed Moses in the first reading, the Lord calls the goal a blessing.
Then, throughout his Gospel and today, the Lord says the goal of everlasting blessing is to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Through St. Paul in the second reading today, the Lord calls the kingdom of blessing “the glory of God.”
The everlasting blessing of God in the glory of his kingdom is our goal.
If we reach that goal, we shall see God face to face.
He will open himself to us forever.
He will overflow happiness, peace, and oneness into us, through us, and among us.
The overflow will go beyond everything we can imagine or want, and it will never end.
If that is our goal, we need to know where we are now, we need to know that we can miss the goal forever, and we need to know the way to the goal.
Where are we now?
The Word of the Lord in the second reading today tells us where we have been, but also where we could stay forever: “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.”
His Gospel today tells the danger more darkly.
Not everyone ... will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me... “Lord, Lord....”
I will declare... “I never knew you.
Depart from me, you evildoers.”

That is the danger until we reach the goal.
So, then, how do we reach the goal?
In the second reading today, the Lord says he gives the goal as a free gift— that we “are justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood.”
Faith in that gift is a lifelong work of obedience to the will of God, who tells us in his Gospel today:
Not everyone... will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

He goes on to liken the work of obedient faith to the work of building a house on rock, instead of sand.
Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.

However, once the house is built, the work of faith is not yet over.
Rain, floods, and winds will come and buffet the house.
Faith must continue to work and to withstand.
We may have faith now, but until the end of life, we can backslide into collapse and ruin, as Jesus says:
And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.
Not everyone... will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

To do the will of the heavenly Father of Jesus, to work at doing his will as long as we live is to have a living faith, rather than a dead one.
Our faith is alive if we exercise both hope and love.
Hope dares to want what faith believes.
Love chooses to do the work that faith and hope need.
The man who does the lifelong work of faith, hope, and love is one whom Jesus today calls a wise man.
Wisdom— also called prudence— is the steering wheel for faith, hope, and love.
The prudent or wise man looks for the true and good— the goal— and he looks for the true and good way to get to the goal.
Besides the steering wheel of wisdom, faith, hope, and love require that we also practice the cardinal virtue of justice that always and strongly chooses duty towards God and neighbor.
However, what prudence, wisdom, justice, and duty demand sometimes is difficult.
So, another cardinal virtue must come aboard: fortitude— also called strength, courage, or might.
To practice fortitude is to stand firm in the face of difficulties, and to persevere in doing good.
Besides wisdom, justice, and fortitude, there is one more cardinal virtue: temperance.
To practice temperance is to manage our attractions and pleasures, and to use created goods in a balanced way.
By the way, I eagerly recommend reading about all four cardinal virtues in the Catechism.
Three of them— wisdom, justice, and fortitude— appear in the Gospel today in the work of a wise man who listens to the teaching of Jesus, does the will of God, builds his house on rock, and withstands throughout whatever happens.
Jesus says:
Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock....
Not everyone... will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

If we want to work for the goal, we have the opportunity to work at the side of Christ, rely on his example, his real presence, his help, and his strength.
In his Body and Blood, Christ is the Wisest Man, giving his entire self to the goal.
In his Body and Blood, Christ is the Surpassingly Just Man, fulfilling every duty to his Father— and overdoing it by serving the needy even if they may be in sinful rebellion against him.
In his Body and Blood, Christ is the Bastion of Fortitude that stands firm in the face of suffering and death for the sake of doing good.
In his Body and Blood, Christ invites us to be wise, and to build our lives on his suffering, death and resurrection, so that we can ascend through him, with him, and in him into the everlasting blessing of God in the glory of his kingdom.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All