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 27, 2009

For Saturday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 8:5-17
Genesis 18:1-15

As slaves for their master or soldiers for their centurion, Abraham and Sarah dashed about for their Most Holy Trinity of Guests.
God the Lord in the shape of three men has called on them.
The token of three men may be like the Hebrew way of showing something to be the highest and greatest of its kind.
The Hebrew way to say “very good” is good-good, and to say “best” is good-good-good.
We’ve kept the Hebrew way at Mass: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, “Holy, Holy, Holy”— the Most Holy Lord God.
Three men: the Lord, the Lord, the Lord, Most High God.
As the Greatest Guest of Abraham and Sarah, the Lord got his feet bathed, and got to eat freshly slaughtered, “tender, choice” beef, “curds and milk,” newly baked bread of “fine flour”— all the while sitting in tree-shade cooler than in Abraham’s tent “while the day was growing hot.”
Besides the back and forth of words, we can call to mind the tastes, smells, and weight of the meal, and also the feel of heat and shade.
The Lord, the Lord, the Lord, Most High God was really there, there, there, sitting, resting, eating, and talking.
Despite his REAL PRESENCE, Sarah laughed at the word of the Lord: that even with her aged and dried up body, she with Abraham was to beget Isaac who would father Jacob.
The names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, together with talk of a banquet, are also in the Gospel today.
In the Gospel, the Lord does not receive lavish, Abrahamic hospitality, but a pagan centurion’s unstinting humility and unmatched faith.
The centurion deems himself unworthy to have the Lord under his roof or at his table, but simply believes in the word of the Lord to heal his unseen servant from afar.
The Lord wants that kind of faith from us.
Here in his Eucharistic Banquet, we do not see the skin, flesh, sinews, or gore of the Lord’s Body and Blood; and we do not get the load that Abraham dished up.
Nonetheless, the Lord, the Lord, the Lord, Most High God is Really, Really, Really Present, Present, Present.
So we follow the centurion in faith, and we use his words at Mass.
It used to be we would say them three times in a row.
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; but only say the word and my soul will be healed.”
The Lord gives his body, he gives his blood, and he gives his word.
“He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
The Lamb of God shoulders our sins, and dies for us.
He is our Shepherd, and we are his flock.
He is our Centurion, and we are his soldiers.
If we are faithful to him, then, “Amen,” he says to us, we “will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”
We shall not gainsay our feelings with Sarah, but let out the open, forthright laughter, laughter, laughter of sons and daughters rejoicing in God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit— the Lord, the Lord, the Lord.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 25, 2009

For Thursday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 7:21-29

The Lord Jesus does some name-calling today: “you evildoers” ... “like a fool.”
Not enough to call on the name of the Lord, or prophesy in the name of the Lord, or drive out demons in the name of the Lord, or do mighty deeds in the name of the Lord!
We do all of that here at Mass by the celebration of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of the Lord.
Here at Mass we call on his name, prophesy in his name, drive out demons in his name, and do the mightiest deed— THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT— in his name.
Without our also doing the will of his heavenly Father, the Eucharist will not get us into his Kingdom.
Instead, as the Lord says in his Gospel today, he will declare solemnly: “I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.”
He leaves open that someone who has never called him “Lord”— someone who is nominally NON-Christian— can enter the Kingdom of heaven simply for doing the will of the Lord’s Father. [See 847 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.]
We can turn away from the Father’s will at any time in our lives.
Doing his will is a work-in-progress for a lifetime.
Here in the Gospel of the Lord and here in the Body and Blood of the Lord, we receive the power of the Lord’s name.
It is real power, and we must put it to use in doing his Father’s will, building our house on rock, and thereby enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Otherwise we are using the Mass to take in vain the name of the Lord, and to make ourselves evildoers and fools in his eyes.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 23, 2009

For Tuesday of the Twelfth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Genesis 13:2,5-18
Matthew 7:6,12-14

Today in the Word of the Lord, we hear the promise of earthly “salvation” to Abram.
God promised to give all the land within Abram’s sight to Abram and his untold offspring forever.
It is EARTHLY salvation, and it is “constricted” [a word from today’s Gospel], and its opening is “narrow” [also a word from today’s Gospel], because it comes to one man alone and to the race of offspring of that man alone.
That is personal, individualistic, and exclusive.
Some might even say “tribal,” “racist,” and “elitist.”
Yes, it is a narrow and constricted promise of salvation.
The good thing about this promise is that it is no mere myth.
This promise happened in real history, in a real land, to a real man, and whose real offspring are throughout the real world.
In one of the offspring of Abram, Christ Jesus, the promise of salvation has died to all limitations of race and land in the real world, and has really risen in the world, and ascended above the bounds of land and race.
However, in real person of Christ Jesus, the gate of salvation is still narrow, and “the road that leads to life” is still constricted.
Christ Jesus is the one gate and the one road.
He says of himself personally, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” [Jn. 14:6].
By upholding himself to be the one gate and the one road, he gave what was holy to us, and threw his pearls before us.
We, like dogs and swine because of our sins, trampled the holy and precious one, and tore him open on the cross.
We did to him what we would not have done to us.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows,
and acquainted with grief;
... and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.
... and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away
... stricken for the transgression of my people.
... when he makes himself an offering for sin
... he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one ... make many to be accounted righteous;
and he shall bear their iniquities.
... because he poured out his soul to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. [See Isaiah 53:3-12]

By the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit, his death brought life to the world.
Still, however, no blanket of general absolution or general salvation is tossed over the anonymous heads of the world.
Though all are called, each person has the name and the dignity to answer personally, and turn personally to the one gate and one road, Christ Jesus, the way and the truth and the life.
Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide
and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow is the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.

As I choose to eat, drink, and live out my own personal share in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, may he free me from all my sins and from every evil, keep me faithful to his teaching, and never let me be parted from him. [See the priest’s private prayer of preparation in the Communion Rite of the Mass.]

That God Be Glorified in All