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 09, 2010

For Tuesday of the Fifth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

1 Kings 8:22-23,27-30
Mark 7:1-13

In the first reading, we witness again the prayer of King Solomon at the qorban— the dedication or consecration— of the Temple he built for God.
In Solomon’s prayer and in the responsorial psalm today, the Word of the Lord calls us to honor God— to yearn, pine, and cry out for him in our souls, hearts, and flesh— to do so in his temple and before his altar.
The Lord also calls us to honor him in all the places, moments, deeds, and relationships of our lives.
He makes clear in his Gospel that we are not to separate his honor from the honor rightly owed to others, for example, to those who were his servants in bringing us to life— father and mother.
Otherwise, the honor we might pay to God at his altar in his temple would actually put us far from God.
“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
We run the danger of boxing up or shutting God inside his Temple, but of failing to honor him in our relationships with others.
We also run the danger of boxing up different parts of our own selves.
One example of that is our use of the word “brain.”
Did you know the word “brain” does not occur in the Bible?
Today we link the brain with intellectual activity; whereas we tie the heart to feelings.
However, the Bible does not separate thinking from feeling, nor box up thinking in the brain and feeling in the heart.
The Bible does not have the word “brain.”
Rather, in the Bible, the heart is everything and does everything.
In the Bible, the heart thinks and does intellectual work.
It also is the spring of the feelings— of love, hatred, desire, fear, joy, sadness, and anger.
In the Bible, the heart also decides, chooses, wills.
The Biblical heart is the whole of our interior life: emotion, intellect, and will.
In fact, in the next lines after today’s Gospel, the Lord points out that the heart THINKS, FEELS and ACTS WILLINGLY.
He says that, “from within, out of the HEART of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” [Mk. 7:21-22]
Thoughts, feelings, and willing actions all come from the heart.
Today the Gospel says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
In other words, they separate and box up different parts of themselves; they give God only a small piece; they really keep their whole being far from God.
You and I have come here today, inside this temple and before this altar, to honor God with our lips.
He wants us to open all the separate boxes, and offer our whole united being in his honor— to love and willingly serve the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.
All of one’s life is God’s Temple.
St. Benedict tells monks that everything in the monastery is as a vessel of the altar.
Everything can give honor to God, and everything can bring God’s gifts to us.
We, too, can join Christ, in obeying the commandment: “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long....” [Dt. 5:16]
Take, O Father,
eat and drink my whole being.
I give it up and pour it out for you,
for you are the forgiver of sins.
You, O Lord, honor me with your mercy.
I honor you with all my being,
for you are God my creator.
“Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.” [Ps. 118:116, as in the Benedictine ceremony for the vows of a monk]

That God Be Glorified in All