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.

March 28, 2009

For Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 7:40-53

Today the Gospel opened saying some in a crowd heard words of Jesus, but it did not say what words.
Backing up, we find today in the Gospel was the grand finale of the seven-day Jewish festival of “Tabernacles” or “Tents.”
Every adult male in Israel was expected to be in Jerusalem for the festival where he would live out of a tent for the seven days.
The festival recalled that after escaping Egypt the Israelites lived in tents in the desert, where they would have died of thirst, but God made water come out of rock.
During the festival’s grand finale, in the presence of all the men of Israel, Jesus shouted out to them words that meant he himself was as good as God [7:37-38].
If any one thirst,
let him come to ME and drink.
He who believes in ME,
as the scripture has said,
‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’

Out loud and in their faces, despite knowing the chief priests and Pharisees were already seeking to kill him!
Some who heard it said he was the Prophet that Moses had foretold, or that he was the Messiah.
Then, the rest of the Gospel today is peppered with questions.
Where was he from?
Did he fit the prophecies or not?
Why did the guards not take him?
Had they been deceived?
Was he to be condemned?
Was he to receive a hearing?
What did the law say about this?
None of the questions got answered.
The thing just closes suddenly with all the men packing up and going back to their own homes throughout the land.
It was not yet time for rivers of living water to flow out of their hearts for believing in Jesus.
According to the Gospel [7:39], the words of Jesus about “living water” were:
about the Spirit,
which those who believed in him were to receive;
for as yet the Spirit had not been given,
because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Crossing into glory, Jesus turned the world upside down.
He, the Word that is God, underwent betrayal at the hands of men, death on a cross, and burial.
Yet, like a grain of wheat he rose as a rich harvest [Jn. 12:23-24].
The glory of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the living water of the Spirit flowing from the hearts of those who believe in Jesus.
He has said this elsewhere [Jn. 4:14].
whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him
will never thirst;
the water that I shall give him
will become in him a spring of water
welling up to eternal life.

Christ offered his body and blood in pure holiness to the Father with whom he has unity in the Holy Spirit [Heb. 9:14].
Christ is King and alive with his Father in the oneness of the Holy Spirit.
The Father sent Christ out of death into the resurrection with his flesh and blood breathing the Spirit of their oneness.
If we believe and live for all of that, then the Body and Blood of Christ breathe and gush the Holy Spirit within us.
That truth is one we might or might not feel.
What matters is that we believe it and work to live it.
If we hold faithful to it, then one day from within us it will forever overwhelm every thirst for health, joy, knowledge, and freedom.
If any one thirst,
let him come to me and drink.
He who believes in me,
as the scripture has said,
‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’

That God Be Glorified in All

March 25, 2009

For the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Isaiah 7:10-14 & 8:10
Hebrews 10:4-10
Luke 1:26-38

Today we have the start of the Christmas mystery.
Today and on Christmas, we kneel down to tell of God the Son that: “by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
Today also points to Good Friday and the Ascension.
The first reading says the mystery we celebrate today is “deep as the nether world” and “high as the sky.”
God became a member of mankind, was born in flesh and blood from the Virgin Mary, suffered, died, and went down to the nether world.
He rose from the dead, and in flesh and blood ascended into the sky.
His mission is “deep as the nether world” and “high as the sky.”
Today the psalm, second reading, and Gospel echo with obedience to that mission.
Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Behold, I come to do your will.

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.

The angel told Mary her Son would have a mission “high as the sky.”
However, the angel did not say the mission would also go “deep as the nether world.”
Jesus will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his Father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.

The second reading said the mission of Jesus enfolded his sacrificial death to take away sins that send men to the nether world.
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats takes away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me.
... behold, I come to do your will, O God.”
.... By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The once-for-all sacrificial offering of Christ’s Body and Blood takes away our sins, consecrates us, makes us holy, joins us to God.
That once-for-all sacrificial offering is really present in the Eucharist for us to eat, drink, and be joined in it’s offering to the Father.
We must choose to return again and again to be joined to the sacrificial offering of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ, because we remain free and liable to sin.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice consecrates us to God, but we are responsible to carry out that consecration in our daily lives.
The daily work-plan and lifelong road of our consecration is marked out in the spoken communion between the angel and Mary.
Together with Mary’s “Yes” to the Spirit and the Word of the Lord— together with Mary, God opened the road for his own coming into the world, so that he himself could be the road for man’s going up into the new heavens and earth.
The plan and the road that the
angel tells, and that Mary chooses to follow, are for us also to choose and follow.
First, there is the impossible beginning: “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son.”
For us there is the equal impossibility that the sinner shall be a child of God.
Mary asks the question for us, “How can this be?”
The angel’s answer to the impossibility of virgin motherhood is also the answer to the impossibility of sinners being children of God.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
By the power that is the Holy Spirit, sinners are reborn as the holy children of God, just as by the same Holy Spirit the Son of God was born a man of flesh and blood from a virgin.
As the angel said: “nothing will be impossible for God.”
The Holy Spirit overpowers the impossibility of virgin motherhood and the impossibility of sinners being children holy to God.
However, the Holy Spirit does not overpower the will of the Virgin or the will of the sinner.
After telling Mary of the Father’s will and the Spirit’s power, the angel lets Mary have the last word.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
It is the same with us.
The Holy Spirit overpowers the impossibility of our sins, but does not overpower our wills.
The Holy Spirit waits for us to say our own “Yes” and to choose to live as handmaids and menservants of the Lord.
When Mary said “Yes,” the Son of God came from heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit he received the holy communion of body and blood from Mary’s body and blood— our body and blood— and was born a member of our race.
So, we call him Emmanu-El, “God-with-Us,” in flesh and blood.
In flesh and blood sacrifice, he took our sins away with him to death on the cross.
By his rising from the dead, our flesh and blood now breathe the Holy Spirit, and are consecrated to ascend to the side of God the Father.
In the person of Christ, our flesh and blood— by the Holy Spirit and from the Virgin Mary— our flesh and blood now sit at the right hand of the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
Now the Father and the Spirit can call Christ Emmanu-ISH, “MAN-with-Us.”
To be with God— the dignity to be with God and the power to be with God— that dignity and power are the Spirit that already overshadows, anoints, and fills us, but always waits for us to say the last word.
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
If we serve faithfully to the end, we will rise to live with God in the Paradise of the new heavens and the new earth.
At the side of our Father, each of us will be finally worthy to receive the same greeting Mary received from the angel.
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
Forever and ever!

That God Be Glorified in All