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 23, 2010

For December 23 in Advent

Malachi 3:1-4,23-24
Luke 1:57-66

Again in Advent, in today’s first reading, we hear the old prophecy of Malachi— Malachi the last of the prophets before John the Baptist.
The name of Malachi means both “my messenger” and “my angel.”
In Malachi’s prophecy, Christian believers can hear God speaking about John the Baptist likewise as a messenger or an angel.
“Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me....”
The prophecy tells also of one who “will purify the sons of Levi.”
In the tribe of Levi, John’s father, Zechariah, was a descendant of Aaron, therefore a priest.
John’s mother, Elizabeth, was also of Aaron’s family.
Through both his father and mother, then, John was a priest by birth.
Malachi’s prophecy upheld one who “will purify the sons of Levi,” the tribe that oversaw the rites of worship for all the tribes of the Lord.
A descendant of Aaron in the tribe of Levi, John was to call all the tribes to change and turn anew to God.
John was to point out to them the greatest priestly purification sacrifice of all: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
The Lamb, Jesus, God and Lord, sacrificed himself to be the cutting open of a new and everlasting covenant so that sins may be forgiven.
By sundown tomorrow, we will be commemorating the human birth of God the Lamb.
Today, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi, we see in the Gospel the birth and naming of John, the messenger God sent before himself.
The Gospel underscores how startling the people found it that Zechariah did not give his own name to his son.
In all the Word of God, only two persons received their names from heaven before their births: John first, and then the Lord Jesus.
Gabriel the angel of God revealed their names.
“John” is the English version of the Biblical Hebrew Yochanan, which means, “God is gracious.”
That is the message God sent before himself in the person of John, “God is gracious.”
God, in his gracious self-giving, freely hands over himself in covenant commitment for us and to save us.
Yet, how can we take in this free gift, unless we let go of sin, turn away from sin, and turn to face God with our hands empty and our whole beings open?
Even that turning is in the prophecy of Malachi, giving us to understand that John will be as Elijah the prophet to “turn the hearts of the fathers” and also “the hearts of the children.”
Heeding the messenger, John, we turn again from our sins, to face and behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
We are to repent, to open, and to lift up our hearts, so that we are honestly ready for Christ who was born in Body and Blood as the only one by whom our whole being may be healed.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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