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 27, 2008

For Friday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 8:1-4

Today Jesus stretched out his hand, touched a man’s sick body, and gave a command: “Be made clean!”
“Be made clean!”— such words from Jesus have power beyond welfare of the body only.
Such words from Jesus are also salvation from SIN.
Because of this, Jesus also worked healings of the BODY by saying, “your SINS are forgiven.”
Today, after curing the man’s body, Jesus sent him to make the offering the Law of Moses required from one cleansed of leprosy.
The Law required him to make two sacrificial offerings.
One was a sacrifice of thanksgiving and worship.
The other was a sacrifice to ATONE for SIN.
When Jesus said to the kneeling leper, “Be made clean,” Jesus had the whole man in mind: clean to enjoy health of body, clean to feel joy, clean of sin.
Today at this altar, we join the kneeling leper to ask the Lord for health, joy, forgiveness, salvation, holiness, and even the everlasting resurrection.
In the end, it will all happen with our wills and our minds alive, full of thanks and giving glory to God.
Jesus wants all of that for us, just as he wanted it all for the leper.
The kneeling leper had said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Today, kneeling before the Lord at his altar, we shall echo the leper: “Lord ... only say the word, and I shall be healed.”
Then the Lord will reach out to touch us with his Body and his Blood, fulfilling what the prophet Isaiah said, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
He is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sins of the world.
Furthermore, Christ himself makes the two offerings the Law of Moses required of lepers.
Christ offers HIMSELF up as a sacrifice of THANKSGIVING— that being the literal meaning of “Eucharist”— and he offers himself up “so that sins may be forgiven.”
If we open ourselves to join Christ in the atonement and gratitude he offers to the Father, Christ will lead us away from hardness of heart.
Then we can be made clean of heart and ready for everlasting joy.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 23, 2008

For Monday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 7:1-5

Folded into what Jesus says today is that he has judged me.
He judges I have a whole wooden beam in my eye.
Also: he wants me to know that whereas I have a whole beam in my eye, my brother has a mere splinter in his.
St. Benedict teaches the same in saying the seventh of the twelve rungs of the ladder of humility is to declare with my tongue and believe in my heart of hearts that I am lower and of less account than all. [Rule of Benedict 7:51]
Such humility pushes fully open the door for me to step through and grow emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
Today Jesus also says there is another reward for this kind of humility and self-accusation: if I measure others as greater than myself, I too will be measured as a greater one.
Is that not so in the Eucharist?
Jesus here takes not merely the low place of a slave, but the lower place of an animal slaughtered as a covenant, a holocaust, and a communion sacrifice served up equally for the Father of heaven and for me.
Here in his Eucharist, Jesus practices St. Benedict’s seventh rung of humility, making himself “lower and of less account than all.”
Here Jesus treats me as greater than himself.
He gives his body up for me, and he sheds his blood for me “so that sins may be forgiven.”
In my place, he was judged guilty and sentenced to death.
To remove the wooden beam from my eye, he was nailed to wooden beams.
Despite his entirely innocent judgment— accurate and true— that I have a beam in my eye, he has measured out mercy and reverence towards me.
If I turn and measure out mercy and reverence for my brother, Jesus promises me the measureless resurrection.
Hoping in his promise, eating and drinking the price and fulfillment of his promise, am I not moved to obey his command today?
“Remove the wooden beam from your eye.”
Remove the wooden beam, and build from it a ladder of humility, St. Benedict would likely add.
My Lord Jesus Christ and my Father St. Benedict call me to faithful work for the rest of my life.
It is work that I vowed by my conversatio morum— the lifelong, measureless turning and giving of myself to God in the monastery.
I am to mirror the pattern of the Eucharist that is the new and everlasting self-conversatio of Jesus into my measurelessly life-giving food and drink.
St. Benedict tells me to underline my vows by my saying here in the house of prayer, “Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live.”
The Lord wants to receive me, but I am blocking the way with a wooden beam.

That God Be Glorified in All

For Friday of the Eleventh Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 6:19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy ... but store up treasures in heaven”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven IS theirs.”
To forego all things and myself for the sake of living in God allows me to inherit God.
God is the treasure in heaven.
“Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
In what way is God treasure?
God’s uncountable richness is in giving himself away.
That is the opposite of wanting to have everything.
Because God simply lives by giving himself, those who are poor in spirit, those who do not have a grabbing spirit, those who instead have a giving, sacrificing spirit, they inherit God himself.
They deserve to be called God’s heirs: the sons and daughters of God who gives himself away.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven IS theirs.”
The self-giving, self-emptying, self-sacrificing spirit of God comes to us in his Eucharist.
In his Eucharist, God in Christ hands over and spills out himself for us in flesh and blood.
Before we do, the vessels of the altar receive the handing over of God’s self, and the spilling out of God’s self.
St. Benedict tells us monks to treat all the tools and goods of the monastery as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar.
The first tools and goods of the monastery world are the monks around us.
Our fellow monks are sacred vessels of the altar.
When we genuinely serve the authentic welfare of our brothers, we imitate God, we serve him, and we lay up treasure in heaven.
Then, on the last day, God will raise us up, and embrace us as treasure in the new heavens and earth.
His embrace has already begun in our own Flesh and Blood, since the Lord Jesus Christ in Flesh and Blood has ascended into the embrace of heaven.
As treasure in heaven, the Flesh and Blood of man sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
The same is enthroned in the Vessels of the Altar seated beside each of you.
The same wants to be treasured and enthroned in every choice you make.
The same wants to enthrone you by every choice you make.
Store up treasures in heaven, for you are sons of the King!

That God Be Glorified in All