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 28, 2010

For the First Sunday of Advent

[Posted five days after the fact]

Isaiah 2:1-5
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

In today’s first reading the Word of the Lord points to our coming to this hilltop monastery and its church.
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob.”
Then, it also tells why we are to be here: “that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”
It goes on to foretell the end of all war when all nations shall join to follow the God of Israel.
“All nations shall stream toward” ... “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” to learn “his ways” and “walk in his paths.”
“One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”
The second reading, however, calls us to make war indeed.
“Let us then THROW OFF the works of darkness and put on the ARMOR of light.”
If we wish peace among nations, if we wish to be at peace with others and with God, then we each need to make war against sin within our individual selves.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

To “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” is to take hold of him as armor against our own sins, so “that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”
So here I am having chosen to be in this House of God today.
My flesh may be here, but am I truly open for the provisioning of my soul?
Have I truly chosen to be instructed in God’s ways, to walk obediently in his paths and humbly by his light?
By my own choice to bring my flesh here, I have made my soul answerable.
As today’s first reading foretells, the Lord “shall judge” and “impose terms.”
As we uphold in the Creed here at Mass Sunday after Sunday, the Lord Jesus Christ “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
How will it be at the coming of the Son of Man?
Will he save us or lose us?
In his Gospel today he tells us we must stand ready, for at an hour we do not expect, he will come.
Like his Eucharist— with the appearance of bread but the reality of his Body, and with the appearance of wine but the reality of his Blood— the day of Christ’s return will remain unrecognizable to eyes of flesh until they see him face to face.
One day, in the sight of all flesh worldwide, to the dismay of history and the delight of faith, Christ will return, as he says in his Gospel today, breaking in like a thief at an unknown hour of night.
If my own death should break in upon me before the Second Coming, then the sooner shall I stand all the same before the Judge of the living and the dead.
One of the “tools for good works” in the teaching of St. Benedict is for a monk “to keep death daily before his eyes.”
On what path will my death or the Second Coming find me?
The choice is mine everyday and in all things.
If I choose the good work of being always ready either for death or the Second Coming, then I will find eternal rest and joy in the perpetual light of paradise face to face with God.
If I have not bothered at all to be ready, God will not bother me at all, any more, and forever.
He will save those who stand ready, but he will leave me to the path I have freely chosen.
He says it ominously in his Gospel today: “one will be taken, and one will be left,” and a second time, “one will be taken, and one will be left.”
“Therefore, stay awake!”
“For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”
What we do know is that God the Word comes true upon his altar.
This is my body ... given up for you.

This is the cup of my blood ... shed so that sins may be forgiven.

However, even in the real Eucharistic coming of the Son of Man, the warning of his Gospel today holds true: “one will be taken, and one will be left.”
What will make the difference?
Again, the Word of Lord tells us in the second reading.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light....

... put on the Lord Jesus Christ....

Take, eat, drink, and put on the giving up of one’s body for the good of others and the spending of one’s blood in seeking the forgiveness of sins.
The light of the Eucharistic armor is God’s new and everlasting covenant, his flesh and blood commitment to our salvation.
We armor ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ by waking ourselves up and committing our own flesh and blood to the salvation he offers us in his.

That God Be Glorified in All


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