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.

August 18, 2008

For Monday of the Twentieth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 19:16-22
Ezekiel 24:15-24

Today in the Word of the Lord we see what a horrendous mission God gave the prophet Ezekiel.
The Lord took away Ezekiel’s wife to make her death a sign to Israel that God would desecrate his own holy place, the stronghold of Israel’s pride, the delight of their eyes, the desire of their souls.
“Thus says the Lord God: [Israel,] you shall rot away because of your sins.”
Horrendous and sad!
There is sadness in today’s Gospel also.
The young man who came to Jesus, and asked how to gain eternal life, went away sad.
He had many possessions, but still went away sad.
Had he forsaken his belongings, and instead stayed with Jesus, the way to happiness would have opened up for him.
What is the way to a life of eternal happiness?
Jesus tells us the way in his Gospel today.
He begins with the word “if.”
There are conditions we must meet if we wish a life of eternal happiness.
“IF you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
The young man is already keeping the commandments, but somehow he knows he is still missing something.
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus does not at this time add another condition for gaining eternal life.
Rather, he proposes to the young man how to be perfect on earth.
If the young man wants to be perfect on earth, he must forsake everything he owns, and choose instead to follow Jesus.
“When the young man heard ... he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
Many belongings could do nothing to thwart his sadness.
Only Jesus would do.
Are we happy with Christ?
One of the dangers for us monks is a kind of professional boredom with Christ.
We are in his Eucharistic presence several times everyday.
We see a sign [icon] of him several times everyday.
We pray and recite his word several times everyday.
We hear readings about him everyday.
We hear him in his Gospel everyday.
We eat his Body and drink his Blood everyday.
The boredom does not come from Christ.
The boredom comes from within us.
Once it comes, its power can grow if we allow ourselves to fall into a kind of forgetfulness: forgetting the commandments, forgetting to make choices in light of the commandments, and forgetting that nothing can bring everlasting happiness except holding fast to God in Christ.
The responsorial psalm told us: “You have forgotten God who gave you birth.”
Since our boredom comes from within us, we must train and fight in unswerving prayer to carve out inside ourselves a choice renewed again and again to hold fast to God in Christ.
Not simply to fight boredom, but to gain the happiness of eternal life!
In his Eucharistic Covenant, God in Christ sheds his blood, having fought in holding fast to his choice to surrender himself to us.

That God Be Glorified in All