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.

February 26, 2010

For Friday of the First Week of Lent

Ezekiel 18:21-28
Psalm 130:1-8
Matthew 5:20-26

Whenever we hear the Lord Jesus say, “Amen, amen,” or, “Amen, I say to you,” we would do well to mark his words.
It appears as a historical fact that no one until the Lord Jesus used the word “Amen” in that particular way.
It would be, then, a mannerism he himself invented.
When he uses “Amen, amen, I say to you,” he goes above and beyond the ancient prophetic prologue, “Thus says the Lord.”
In other words, his “Amen” is a sign of speaking directly as God himself, not merely as a go-between prophet.
“Amen, amen,” what does God want us to hear?
Today, in the first reading, the responsorial psalm, and his Gospel, God insists there are consequences for our sins.
If a wicked man repents, turns to God, “and does what is right and just, he shall surely live,” but a virtuous man who turns to do evil shall suffer deadly consequences. [First reading]
In his Gospel today, the Lord voices a litany of consequences for sin.
... you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
... you ... will be liable to judgment....
... answerable to the Sanhedrin....
... liable to fiery Gehenna.
... thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid....

That last line about a prison from which one will be released after paying for one’s sins is a Gospel description of purgatorial payment— purgatory.
“Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid....”
The sins whose consequences today’s Gospel addresses are those against one’s brother.
In his Gospel today, the Lord Jesus makes the altar the place where we undergo judgment for sins against a neighbor.
We are to make amends with our fellow man before daring to approach the altar, or else we shall face the grim consequences.
The Word of the Lord to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 11:27-29] says that to receive the Eucharist unworthily is a profanation that brings deadly judgment upon us.
The Lord Jesus profaned himself, giving up his body for us, and shedding his blood for us, by receiving deadly judgment in place of us, so that our sins may be forgiven.
As we now dare to approach his altar, he upholds in his Gospel today that, “Amen,” we are first to make amends for our sins against others.
Otherwise, we profane the atonement for our sins, the atonement he makes in his Body and Blood.

That God Be Glorified in All


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