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.

December 19, 2009

For December 19 in Advent II

Luke 1:5-25

God the Son became a man on earth just over two thousand years ago.
God had been readying the world for thousands of years before.
He chose to reveal his monopoly on Godhead to Abraham.
Abraham’s grandson, Israel, fathered twelve sons, the tribes of Israel that God hallowed to his worship alone.
Out of the tribe of Levi in the days of Moses, God chose Aaron to father the line of priests.
Hundreds of years later, out of the tribe of Judah, God chose the kings of Israel.
Of the royal tribe of Judah, the Lord Jesus was born.
As God bent to anoint the day for the Blessed Virgin Mary to bear the world’s Last King, he created John the Baptist.
[On September 23, nine months before the Church’s June 24 Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the Church commemorates his parents, Sts. Zechariah and Elizabeth.]
John’s father, Zechariah, was a priest, therefore a descendant of Aaron.
Zechariah’s elderly wife, Elizabeth, was also of Aaron’s line.
So, from father and mother, from the womb, long before he spoke any prophetic word or did any prophetic sign, John the Baptist was a flesh and blood priest.
John the Baptist, John the Priest!
Years later as a full-grown man, John used the words of priestly rites to point out the Lord Jesus for the first time.
“This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
John’s father, Zechariah, greeted his son’s birth with a song from the Holy Spirit, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.”
In the Church, the daily morning prayers of every deacon, priest, and bishop, the pope, and every monk, nun, sister, canon, and friar, always includes the Spirit-song of Zechariah.
It upholds that Zechariah’s son was to prepare the way of the Lord, “to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”
“Knowledge of salvation” is knowledge of the Lord Jesus, whose Hebrew name [Yehoshua] means “Yahweh is salvation.”
John gave God’s people knowledge of Jesus— “knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”
The Holy Spirit filled John in his mother’s womb for that mission that was both priestly and prophetic.
The angel in the Gospel today said what the Holy Spirit would do with John.
“He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” … and … “prepare a people FIT for the Lord.”
The Lord Jesus, at his Last Supper before his death, said the work of the Holy Spirit is to “convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” [Jn. 16:8].
On Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Church publicly convinced three thousand Israelites “concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.”
The three thousand repented, believed, and received baptism from the Church.
To be convinced by the Holy Spirit concerning sin, righteousness and judgment is to be “people FIT for the Lord.”
Having already filled John in his mother’s womb, the Holy Spirit spoke and worked through John to “convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
At John’s Spirit-filled insistence, the people went to John confessing their sins and receiving at his hands a baptism for repentance.
Because of that, even the priestly rites of the Day of Atonement found their greatest end in John the Baptist, John the Priest: to prepare a people FIT for the Lord.
“This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
We answer John’s Spirit-filled words with other words that the Holy Spirit also spoke through the Gospel.
“Lord, I am not worthy”— I AM NOT FIT— “that you should come under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul WILL be healed.”
He makes us worthy if we let the Holy Spirit convince US, “convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
Convince me, Holy Spirit— say the word with the Lord Jesus, and my soul will be healed!
Convince me concerning judgment, righteousness, and sin!
Convince me; make me worthy; prepare me to be fit for the Lord as you did to Israel through John the Baptist, John the Priest!

That God Be Glorified in All

December 15, 2009

For Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Matthew 21:28-32

Today in his Gospel the Lord holds up five of the thick threads he weaves throughout his teachings.
There is his own use of the word “Amen”— “Amen, I say to you.”
No one in the world had ever used “Amen” that way.
When he says it— “Amen, I say to you”— he then speaks words with more self-knowing boldness and weight than the old prophetic, “Thus says the Lord.”
With his “Amen” today he pulls in a second thread: the Kingdom of God.
Then he stitches in the thread of righteousness.
“Righteousness” is an Anglo-Saxon word that takes turns with the Latin word “justice”.
The fourth thread in today’s Gospel shows up twice.
The naysaying second son “changed his mind,” but the Lord tells the chief priests and elders, “you did not … change your minds.”
“Change of mind”— that is the literal meaning of the ancient Gospel word, “metanoia”— for which English also gives “repentance” and “conversion.”
The last and fifth thread today is belief or faith.
Not the chief priests nor the elders, but well-known sinners have believed John the Baptist, and have repented, converted, changed their minds, and are entering the Kingdom of God.
They have followed John into “the way of righteousness,” the justice of God and his Kingdom, the justice that serves the glory of God and the rights of neighbors.
When, in the fullness of his manhood, the Lord Jesus finally began to preach, he opened his way by telling the people the Kingdom of God was at hand, that they were to repent and to believe in the Gospel [Mt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15].
When he sent out his own followers to preach ahead of him for the first time, he had them tell the same to the people: to repent because God’s Kingdom was near [Mt. 10:7; Mk.6:7-12; Lk. 10:1-11].
On the day he ascended to his kingly throne at the right hand of the Father, he told his apostles “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” [Lk. 24:47].
“Now we watch for the day, hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours when Christ our Lord will come again in his glory” [Preface of Advent I].
“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end” [Nicene Creed].
In his flesh and blood, Christ the King rules in the service of his Father’s glory and so that sins may be forgiven.
“This is my body … given up for you…. This is … my blood … shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.”
John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness, calling us to stand ready for the justice of Christ the King, the justice that is also freedom to be children in the image and likeness of the Son of God.
We need to repent and believe, if we would live in the Kingdom of God that is at hand in the Body and Blood of Christ.

That God Be Glorified in All