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 14, 2009

For the Eleventh Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Ezekiel 17:22-24
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Mark 4:26-34

When God freed the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, he told them [Ex.19:5,6]: “all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
In the days of the Lord Jesus on earth, God’s people had been hoping for a messiah to come with earthly might to uphold them as a kingdom over all others.
Jesus teaches something like that will happen at the end of time.
For now, God is King on earth more in mystery rather than earthly might.
Today in his Gospel, he tells two parables about “how it is with the Kingdom of God.”
The Kingdom of God draws near, it happens, it toils, it unfolds, it grows with man’s help— but man “knows not how.”
The mystery of the Kingdom is that “the smallest of all ... becomes the largest.”
For now, the Kingdom of God goes in ways more mysterious and small, than mighty and great.
It could have been otherwise.
Jesus told Pontius Pilate:
My kingship is not of this world;
if my kingship were of this world,
my servants would fight,
that I might not be handed over [Jn.18:36]

You would have no power over me
unless it had been given you from above [Jn.19:11]

God’s angel Gabriel in Nazareth [Lk.1:32,33] said Jesus is Son of the Most High, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Christ the King went about on earth by the wisdom and might from above, and his servants— not of this world— could have smashed imperial Rome or any superpower.
They still can, and one day they will.
Christ does teach that at the end of time he will come in glory to be enthroned on earth, and the army of all his angelic servants will haul before him every living soul for judgment and for everlasting blessing or damnation. [Mt.25:31ff.]
When heaven at last comes to marry earth, all the blessed faithful, alive beyond death, will be joined forever to God in the blessings of perfect happiness and fulfillment.
The highest peak and deepest well of joy will be to see, know, and love God.
Sin shall no longer pull at souls, for God himself will fill up every one.
That can seem like “pie in the sky”— nice to think about, but not likely to come about.
Perhaps the crowds in the Gospel today were disappointed to hear these parables in which Jesus calls us to work at holding fast, and to work at remaining open to God’s promises, even if things do look too small and hidden.
Aren’t we tired of waiting?
Couldn’t God just step in, push away the bad, fix the broken, and bring on the best?
We might imagine we’d like it just fine if God would do all of that for us.
However, he has something bigger in mind.
He wants us to be able to look him in the eye, and to hear him say:
You are like me.
I make choices.
So can you.
You are like me.

So he has given us a world and a life of choices to make on our own.
Yes, we have broken it, starting with the original sin.
After that, and ever since: other sins, plus some forgivable stupidity and also sickness whether of mind or body.
Sooner or later, we each sinfully break something in the world, something in our own lives and something in the lives of others.
Still, we are left with what we had in Paradise: a world of choices.
In the end, Christ the King wants each of us to see him face to face, and to hear him say:
You are like me.
I made choices.
So did you.
You are like me.
Good work!

Then the King will say, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” [Mt.25:34]
Yes, Lord, thy kingdom come, thy will be done!

That God Be Glorified in All


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

A thoughtful sermon. Putting our own words in God's mouth though? Where that may lead me thinks it best we remain scriptual.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Yes, there is danger in that. However, the words I put in God's mouth for the sake of highlighting free will ["You are like me" and "Good Work!"] are not far from Genesis [Let us make man in our image and likeness] or the Gospel [Well done, good and faithful servant]. Nonetheless, I acknowledge the danger of putting words in God's mouth.

9:13 AM  

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