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 17, 2009

For Thursday of the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 7:36-50

The Gospel does not tell us the name of the weeping woman who lavished messianic honor on the feet of Jesus.
However, the Gospel gives us the name of Simon the Pharisee.
Clearly the Apostolic Church, in writing the Gospel, remembered who Simon was.
Perhaps Simon the Pharisee became a member of the Church.
Perhaps he himself provided the wealth of details that the Gospel holds today, even telling what Simon was saying just to himself.
Perhaps out of tender respect for this poor woman whose sin is well-known in the city, the Gospel, perhaps Simon himself, leaves out the woman’s name from the telling.
However, the Gospel bothers to tell us that her ointment flask was made out of alabaster, a costly vessel itself.
The knowledge that it was alabaster is one more sign of a living memory in the Gospel.
However, the Gospel today is not just a living memory.
It is also a LIFE-GIVING memory.
The Lord tells Simon a little story in which he upholds that one who has greater love is one who knows he has received forgiveness for a greater debt.
Then Jesus says of the woman that “her many sins have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love.”
She “has shown great love” by weeping for her sins at the feet of Jesus, kissing his feet, and anointing them with precious oil.
Out of great love— and with saving faith— she humbly gave him a “messianic anointing.”
Great love, but also humility— she lowered herself to anoint his feet, rather than stand over him to anoint his head.
These details of Gospel memory are life-giving, because of who Jesus is, what he says, and what he does.
He said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
He is the One who recognizes great love, recognizes faith, saves, and gives peace.
He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
God the Son, Jesus Christ, the Messianic-Anointed One, comes this day to dine with us in his Body and Blood.
If we come with sorrow for our sins, with ready willingness to abandon our earthly treasures at his feet, with humility, with reverence, with great love, and with faith, Jesus will know it and answer.
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

That God Be Glorified in All

September 14, 2009

For the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 14 September

Numbers 21:4b-9
Philippians 2:6-11
John 3:13-17

The early Christian faith held that the Lord, his body, and his clothes showed the light of transfiguration and glory on a mountain forty days before his crucifixion and death.
From of old, Christians have celebrated the Lord’s Transfiguration on the sixth day of August, that is, forty days before today’s feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
On this day in the year of our Lord 335, the Emperor Constantine dedicated a new church to house the Lord’s tomb in Jerusalem.
To the early Church this sacred day was one of the hinges, one of the turning points of the Christian year.
St. Benedict tells us monks to do what Christians did on this day.
From the start of Lent until Easter, Christians fasted until sundown each day.
From Easter until Pentecost: no fasting at all.
From Pentecost until September 13, the vigil of today: fasting every Wednesday and Friday, until three in the afternoon.
From today until the start of Lent: fasting everyday until three in the afternoon.
Why did the Christian year exalt this feast of the Cross?
When we started the Church’s daily schedule of worship at 5:30 this morning, we read from the Word of the Lord to the Galatians.
The Word said it again and again: the preaching of the Cross, the preaching of the Cross, the preaching of the Cross.
Just as much, it told of our faith in the Cross, our faith in the Cross, our faith in the Cross.
Over and over it said that because of our faith in the Cross, God poured out his Spirit upon us to heal us from sin and death, and give us eternal life.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son .... that the world might be saved through him.”
The Son of God says in his Gospel that he received himself from the Father, and that he came from the Father in heaven down to the earth.
He suffered on the Cross, died, and was buried.
He rose from the dead.
He “has gone up to heaven” again, just as he says in today’s Gospel.
Earlier in this Gospel we hear how the Spirit of the Father works in us through the Son.
Because of sin and death, our lives are misshapen.
The water of Baptism and the Holy Spirit overturn all of that.
The water of Baptism and the Holy Spirit give us new birth into the Son of God.
They give us rebirth into his life as a man, new birth into his death, rebirth into his resurrection, ascension, and exaltation.
The water of Baptism and the Holy Spirit enthrone us in Christ as newborn royal sons and daughters at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
The loving, saving, life-giving will, the work, the power, the sign and the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit come to us in the Cross of Christ.
In Christ, unto the Cross, God chose freely to dwell inside of every human suffering and death.
What happened on the Cross has power to pull to itself our feelings, thoughts, and strength, if only we choose to let it be so.
For that to happen, we need to believe, we need to know, and we need to pay back the love that chose to give up its own flesh and pour out its own blood on the Cross.
In the lowly and exalted Body and Blood of Christ: the Spirit gives us rebirth in God; the Father shows himself to us and loves us; and the Son goes back to the Father as one of us and from within us, full of obedience and thanksgiving.
It behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

That God Be Glorified in All