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.

November 11, 2009

For the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours, 11 November

Matthew 25:31-40

Two Sundays from now is the Solemn Sunday of Christ the King.
Today in his Gospel, the King says he will return to separate all men into two groups: the “sheep” to his right and the “goats” to his left.
The blessed sheep shall be those who chose to serve the real needs of their fellow men.
Christ the King will make them heirs of a kingdom God prepared for them from the beginning of the world.
He brought us into being out of nothing.
He has been good to us who were nothing.
So, he expects us to imitate him and serve him by serving those who have nothing or less than ourselves.
If we do so, he will give us a share in his glory as his sons and daughters.
We were nothing, and he would make us his royal heirs.
We were nothing, and he gives us himself as our food and drink.
We were nothing, and he welcomes us as his children.
We were nothing, and he clothes us in his own image and dignity.
We were nothing, and he has given us life, salvation and holiness.
We were nothing, and he has visited us with his mercy.
For us, then, to give food and drink to the hungry and welcome to strangers is nothing compared to what he has done for us.
To clothe the naked, comfort the sick and visit prisoners is nothing compared to what he has done for us.
For us to do any of these things is a bare reflection of the light of his goodness shining upon our own nothingness.
St. Martin knew this and practiced it.
While still a young soldier, and preparing for Baptism, he cut in half his uniform, his military cape, to share it with a freezing beggar.
After Baptism, he went on to become a monk by helping to start the first monastery north of the Alps.
He founded other monasteries and also became a bishop.
In the year 397, he died already famous for his great goodness to everyone.
The old cape that St. Martin had split with a beggar years before became a cause of many miracles after his death.
In the centuries that followed, kings would take the cape of St. Martin on their travels, and set up a temporary shrine to house the cape wherever they were.
Such a shrine came to be called a “little cape”— in Latin, cappella, which gave us the word “chapel.”
All because St. Martin split his little cape, his cappella, with a beggar!
Here in the Eucharist, in the mystery of a tiny bit of food and drink, it is no torn, secondhand garment that God bestows on us.
It is God himself, the Body and Blood of the King.
We, who were nothing, now have God himself as our food and drink and our unending royal inheritance.
As he commits himself to us here in this covenant, he expects us to commit ourselves to his glory in serving the real need of the least of his brothers.

That God Be Glorified in All

November 08, 2009

For the Thirty-Second Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

1 Kings 17:10-16
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44

After today, the Church has only two more Sundays left in her year of worship.
In these remaining days the Mass on Sundays and weekdays will increasingly remind us that all time will come to an end.
So here at Mass today we hear the Word of the Lord tell of the end of the ages.
The Word of the Lord in the second reading today reminds us that after we die we undergo judgment.
Now is the time for me to cooperate in the taking away of my sins, now, not later.
The Word tells us the second coming of Christ will be “not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”
So, if we are to receive salvation, we must live mindful that we will undergo judgment after death, and we must also live as “those who eagerly await” the return of Christ.
In the first place, what is salvation that I would want it, and would eagerly keep myself ready for it?
Also, why can I not just have salvation without undergoing judgment?
By the Word of God, we rise and come to worship with the Church on the day the Lord rose from the dead— today— and here we rise to say of Christ in the Creed that “for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.”
That was his first coming: “for us men and for our salvation.”
The Word of the Lord in the second reading today tells us his second coming will be “to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”
So it is not enough to be just any man at all.
A man must also be one of “those who eagerly await” Christ.
Really to be eager for Christ means to ready one’s ENTIRE self for Christ, because salvation is for one’s ENTIRE self: body, emotions, reason, and will.
The word “entirety” and the word “integrity” both come from the Latin word integer, meaning “the whole” or “the entire.”
Christ has come for the whole man and for the salvation of the whole man— body, emotions, reason, and will.
For my body: to live forever, never again imperfect, never weak, never injured, never disabled, never sick, never declining, never in pain, never suffering, never dying.
For my emotions: never again to be in conflict, never out of proportion, never fearful, but forever fulfilled, serene, and rejoicing.
For my reasoning mind: never again to be mistaken or in doubt, but forever recognizing and knowing unfailingly what is true and good.
For my will: forever free without hesitation or weakness in choosing and adhering to all that is true and good and holy.
Yes, everlasting salvation for my whole being, body and soul!
Then I need to ready my whole being for it, eagerly to ready my whole life for it.
The poverty-stricken widow in the Gospel today, having only two puny copper coins, threw her whole life into the treasury— and the Gospel is talking about the treasury of God’s Temple.
In today’s particular translation, the Lord tells it as follows.
Amen, I say to you,
this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole LIVELIHOOD.

In the original language of the Gospel, the Lord says the widow put in her whole, literal LIFE.
In that moment, Christ passed judgment on her soul, and he saw what no one else recognized: that she had held nothing back from God, but gave him everything— her last penny, the safety and well-being of body, all her feelings, her reasoning mind, her freedom and will, her whole life.
THAT is eagerness.
With eagerness, let’s hear again from the second reading of the Word of the Lord today.
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment,
so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time,
not to take away sin,
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Salvation is for the whole of my being.
The coming judgment is about whether or not I really want salvation.
I get to choose or reject what is offered.
The choosing is work, but it belongs to me and to my knowing use of my freedom.
God does not force his salvation on me, but dignifies, respects, and glorifies me by giving me my freedom to choose the salvation that he offers.
In my free choosing, God grows my salvation, my dignity, my glory.
When Christ first came down from heaven “for us men and for our salvation,” he became a man, and he handed over human freedom to God, he handed over his own human freedom and his body and his blood and his feelings and his thoughts.
By accepting crucifixion, he handed over everything through the hands of men.
When Judas threw into the Temple the blood money he had asked for betraying Christ [Mt. 27], Judas unwittingly showed that Christ had thrown his whole life into the Temple that is the human race: “for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.”
Here in his Eucharistic Body and Blood, Christ again and again throws his whole being into our lives.
It’s up to us freely to do something with it.
Christ “will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”

That God Be Glorified in All