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 17, 2009

For Wednesday of the Eleventh Ordinary Week of the Church Year

2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

In today’s first reading, the Word of the Lord tells us to plant heavily if we want to have a big harvest.
If we do so, God will “increase the harvest of your righteousness.”
Righteousness is justice in giving God and our neighbors what they have a right to receive from us.
That is not a one-way street.
As our willing practice of justice and righteousness stretches our freedom to give, it also stretches our freedom to receive from God.
Today’s Gospel says our Father will recompense, reward, or repay us when we offer the secret, righteous deeds of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting for our Father alone.
Prayer deals with our Father.
Almsgiving deals with my neighbor.
Fasting deals with my self.
Our Father, my neighbor, my self— the three kinds of personal relationship I can have.
Although fasting, almsgiving, and prayer turn in three different directions— myself, my neighbor, my God— the Lord Jesus says our Father will repay them only if my goal in all three directions is our Father alone.
Our Father does not repay when I show off my fasting, my alms, or my prayer so that others will pat me on the back.
Even letting “your left hand know what your right is doing” is another way of saying, “patting your own self on the back.”
The Lord Jesus underscores secrecy in our seeking the Father.
Today’s Gospel is a three-part litany of secrecy with the Father in almsgiving, secrecy with the Father in prayer, secrecy with the Father in fasting.
It has all the makings of intimacy.
When I secretly give alms, I make myself materially vulnerable and avoid having others support my vulnerability by patting me on the back.
The Lord tells me to offer my material vulnerability secretly to the Father for his support alone.
When I pray all by myself, I avoid the social support of neighbors, so I am socially vulnerable.
The Lord tells me to offer my social vulnerability secretly to the Father for his support alone.
When I fast, I make myself physically vulnerable.
The Lord tells me to offer my physical vulnerability secretly to the Father for his support alone.
Secret almsgiving, prayer, and fasting— material, social, and physical vulnerability in secret with the Father— these are the all-embracing, natural and supernatural makings for real and deep intimacy with God.
In his own Body and Blood, Christ makes himself vulnerable materially, socially, and physically.
In the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood, Christ makes himself into a saving alms for our poverty, into a prayer interceding for us to the Father, and even into a fast-unto-death-on-the-cross that he offers on our behalf to the Father.
By raising him from the dead, and exalting him to his side in heaven, our Father has repaid Christ for his vulnerability.
If we follow Christ in his intimate pursuit of our Father, we shall receive the same as Christ.

That God Be Glorified in All


Blogger KAM said...

Thank you, Father, I needed that little pep talk on fasting. My wife and I have been fasting every Wednesday and Friday for the past two and a half years. Bread and water. Lately, though, we've been questioning our motives, The Blessed Mary's reasons for fasting, etc. You've helped to re-focus a bit. k

10:02 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

May our Father repay you in your fasting!

10:09 AM  
Blogger ROMVLVS, OBLATVS O.S.B. said...

Dear Father Stephanos, as you are no doubt aware, today June 19, The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus solemnity, is "hug a priest" day, beginning the year for priests!

My favorite prayers are those of thanksgiving for, as Meister Eckhart says, "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was 'thank you', that would suffice."

Today, I "secretly" thank God for the blessing of men like yourself; priests who dedicate themselves everyday to leading us wayward sheep through example and sometimes through just plain kicking.

Joining the priesthood is similar in many ways to volunteering for service as a military officer. Both careers require bravery, self-lessness, discipline, modest living, and dedication to a higher cause.

Thank you for defending our society from evil and for inspiring and leading us unruly footsoldiers against the slings and arrows of satan. We are behind you all the way--sometimes WAY behind you!

May God always smile on you and your fellow priests around the world.


2:34 PM  

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