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.

April 28, 2009

For Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

Acts 7:51 to 8:1a
John 6:30-25

Today is day seventeen of the Resurrection.
This week puts us halfway between the Lord’s Resurrection and his Ascension on the fortieth day thereafter.
For forty days the Risen Lord met with only his followers, even sending them away from busy and crowded Jerusalem, and meeting them instead in the countryside of Galilee.
There he could be with them quietly and intimately.
They needed to rediscover him, to rediscover his teachings, to rediscover their own Jewish faith, to rediscover the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, to rediscover even themselves, and to rediscover God in the light of the life, the works, the teaching, the death and the resurrection of Jesus himself.
In the first reading today we hear only the tail end of St. Stephen’s lengthy unfolding of the Jewish faith in the light of Jesus.

I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.

A man who is also God!
A dead man alive and standing as God in heaven!
Earth at home with heaven!
You and I have bred too much familiarity with these truths, and we need to wake up to their fire.
For the ancient people of God these new truths were horrendously too much, and they killed Stephen for saying them.
You and I are also too familiar with today’s Gospel, too familiar with the newness and wonder of eating the Banquet of Life in the Body and Blood of Christ.
This sixth chapter of the Holy Gospel according to John comes to us in the middle of our celebrating the forty days of the Risen Lord’s intimacy with his Church.
During those forty days, the disciples seem to have been in a fog of confusion.
They did not at first recognize the Risen Lord each time he appeared to them.
On the last of the forty days, they watched him go up into the skies.
They stared dumbfounded into the clouds.
Angels had to tell them, “Get going now.”
For ten days thereafter they retreated into prayer, shutting themselves into the upper room back in Jerusalem.
It was the same room where the Body and Blood of Christ first came to them as the Banquet of Life.
It was same room where, on the day Jesus rose from the dead, he quietly breathed the Holy Spirit upon them out of his own Body and Blood.
For fifty days thereafter, the Holy Spirit of Jesus left their hearts burning within them quietly.
In that room on the fiftieth day of the Resurrection, clarity and knowledge burst into flame for them.
They exploded out of the room with words that burned with truth.
Thousands that very day accepted the fire and water of Baptism because of the words of St. Peter and the Church.

This Jesus God raised up,
and of that we all are witnesses.
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God,
and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,
he has poured out this which you see and hear. [Acts 2:32-33]

In the first reading today, we saw St. Stephen give up his life for the same testimony.

I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.

In his Body and Blood, the Risen Christ has the Holy Spirit as his breath and the Father’s throne as his home.
As we choose today to eat and drink the Banquet of Life, let us be mindful that men have died for the truth and dignity of the Body and Blood that already stand at the right hand of God.
They died knowing they would rise to be with Christ.
That truth and dignity belong to us also.
It is up to us to let them be— or not be— our fire, our testimony, and our inheritance now and forever.

That God Be Glorified in All