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.

August 21, 2009

For Friday of the Twentieth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 22:34-40

Today’s Gospel bothers to tell us “the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees.”
The Sadducees were doctrinal enemies of the Pharisees.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the doctrine of their enemies, the Pharisees got together themselves to test the doctrine of Jesus.
It seems the Pharisees did not want only to defeat Jesus, but also to show themselves better than the Sadducees.
The Pharisee question was not hard.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
Jesus did not give a surprising answer.
Surprises came as he went on straightaway to give a bigger answer than the question needed, a bigger answer that left the Pharisees no room for more questions.
To love the Lord, your God, with all your being is the greatest commandment, but Jesus added the detail that it is the first commandment.
Then he added there is a second greatest commandment, that is, to love your neighbor as yourself.
These two commandments sum up the Ten Commandments.
However, Jesus went still further, and said the “WHOLE law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Now, he has doctrinally topped, defeated, and silenced both the Sadducees and their doctrinal enemies the Pharisees.
He has named the first and second greatest commandments.
However, he has also shown that these two commandments carry the WHOLE law of God and the WHOLE “Word of the Lord” that came through the prophets of the Lord God.
The answer of Jesus contained the WHOLE Word of the Lord.
For the Pharisees to question further would have been to call into question the WHOLE Word of the Lord.
The WHOLE Word of the Lord— the Gospel tells us the Word was God, and became flesh.
Jesus is the God the Word, but now he is also Man.
Forever without beginning or end he is the Word that is God, but now he is also the Word that is man made WHOLE.
So, the first and second greatest commandments that he names about love of God and love of neighbor are commandments that tell us about Jesus himself.
First, he loves the Lord— God his Father— with all his being.
Second, he loves us, his neighbors, as he loves himself.
Here in his Eucharistic Body and Blood, Christ hands over his whole being— heart, soul, mind, and body— to his Father.
That is the first and greatest thing that is true about the Body and Blood of Christ: they belong to the Father first of all.
Secondly, the Eucharistic Gift that belongs to the Father is shared with us, the earthly neighbors of Christ, thus bringing us into communion with the Father.
To step forward to take this Gift is to volunteer to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

That God Be Glorified in All

August 17, 2009

For Monday of the Twentieth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Judges 2:11-19
Matthew 19:16-22

In the first reading, the Word of the Lord tells us the sons of Israel abandoned the Lord their God to follow foreign idols.
In his Gospel, the Lord tells one son of Israel to “come, follow me.”
The young man had asked the Lord, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
The Lord unfolds for him that the required condition for gaining entry into eternal life is to keep the commandments.
However, he starts and ends by making the question and the answer about himself.
Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.

Then come, follow me.

Folded into the start and end of the Lord’s answer is that he himself is the “only One who is good,” and that one must follow him to gain entry into eternal life.
Between the start and the end of his answer, the Lord spells out some of the commandments, but only commandments about dealing with our fellow men.
He leaves out all three of the commandments about following God.
I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.

He replaces the three commandments about God with one commandment about himself: “come, follow me.”
Jesus has dared to put himself in the place of God, because he is God.
In the end the things we own are as bad as idols, if what we own on earth is more important to us than treasure in heaven.
If you wish to be perfect,
sell what you have
and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come,
follow me.

To be here in this place, to start with the Lord in his Gospel, and to end with the Lord in his Body and Blood, is to own him as our Lord and God.
We must uphold this ownership in all the moments of our lives, so that nothing can be an idol.
“There is only One who is good.”
Following him in keeping the commandments in all that we do is the good we must do to gain eternal life.

That God Be Glorified in All