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.

September 07, 2009

For Labor Day in the U.S.A., the First Monday of September

Mass for the Blessing of Human Labor
Matthew 6:31-34
Genesis 2:4b-9,15

Our heavenly Father knows all that we need on earth.
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
“Righteousness”— an Anglo-Saxon word— it is God’s Justice.
It is God’s holiness in action, whereby he acts justly against evil and against evil works, and he justly rewards with glory the good and their good works.
Work for and seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice, and your earthly needs will be satisfied.
We know that is the way it will be when Christ returns with the new heavens and the new earth.
Until then we may find instead much difficult labor and little satisfaction.
Before the Original Sin, there was a time when and a place where work and satisfaction were a garden of delight.
After making our earthen body, and giving us a share in his breath of life, the Lord God worked at planting a garden to be our home.
The Lord God worked as a gardener to make us a home, to give delight to our eyes, and to feed us.
In that garden, in the beginning, all was righteousness and justice between God and us, and all our earthly needs were satisfied.
Even our nature to be like God and to work like God was satisfied, for as the Word of the Lord tells us, he settled us “in the garden . . . to cultivate and care for it.”
Perhaps as a sign of Paradise, St. Benedict in chapter 66 of his Rule wants the monastery to “be so constructed that within it all necessities, such as water, mill and garden are contained, and the various crafts are practiced.”
If we would belabor a literal translation of St. Benedict, such a self-contained monastery would make our souls “footloose,” whereas going outside would do the opposite [non expedit animabus eorum].
Whether inside or outside a monastery, the human race no longer lives footloose in God’s garden.
Man and Woman went on to choose to sin against God in the garden.
God in his justice put them out of the garden.
Work became also drudgery, and it is now hard to come by satisfaction delight.
To restore the work of creation, God the Son came to the earth in flesh and blood, Jesus Christ, to take a personal share in our labor, our suffering, and our death.
His dead body was settled in a garden.
In that garden, God the Father gave Christ a new share in the breath of life for us men and for our salvation.
Christ is the beginning, the presence, the fulfillment and the promise of the new heavens and the new earth alive, breathing, working, and delightful in our flesh and blood.
Christ shows us we still have the nature and the need to be and work like God.
Through the flesh and blood of Christ, and through God’s Breath of Life, his Holy Spirit, we have the blessing and the power to collaborate with God.
Even if our labors may seem a crucifixion, as long as they are an honest and faithful seeking of the Kingdom of God and his justice, we have his promise: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

That God Be Glorified in All


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