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 14, 2010

For the Sixth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Luke 6:17,20-26

Today’s Gospel opens telling us “Jesus came down.”
Everything the Gospel gives us comes down from where the Lord Jesus was.
Everything the Gospel asks from us takes us up where he was.
He has come down a mountain where he spent the night awake with his Father.
The Lord Jesus at prayer is God the Son at one with his Father in their Holy Spirit.
The Blessed Trinity of God at prayer has overtaken the night.
When the morning found them, the Lord Jesus chose twelve of his disciples to be apostles— a word meaning “men who are sent,” “emissaries,” “envoys,” “men with a mission.”
The oneness of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit— their oneness began to reach into the world from the prayer of the Lord Jesus who chose and sent twelve apostles.
With his apostles, he came down the mountain, whereupon today’s Gospel shows that the intimacy of the Blessed Trinity began immediately to spread into bigger circles:
first from the Lord Jesus to his twelve apostles;
then, to “a great crowd of his disciples;
next, to the bigger circle of the Jewish people “from all Judea and Jerusalem;
lastly, to the people coming from the pagan world of “the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.”

Then, making clear what the Lord wanted for the pagans and Jews, the Gospel immediately shows him “raising his eyes toward his DISCIPLES.”
He began to tell his DISCIPLES, “Blessed are YOU....”
He told them the blessed though difficult way up the mountain to the Father.
“Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”
Blessed are you who are poor....
Blessed are you who are now hungry....
Blessed are you who are now weeping....
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

To be poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted, denounced as evil— the blessed path of the Lord’s disciples can be lonely and dark, like a night atop a mountain.
The darkness is real, but so is the prayer of the Son in the Spirit to the Father.
Real also are God’s presence and blessing for those who follow and pray alone in darkness.
Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.

As disciples of the Lord Jesus, we are to take to heart that God offers us his Kingdom that is endlessly great beyond all the riches of the world.
If we sincerely treasure his Kingdom, then the Spirit of gratefulness can dwell in us.
Even when we lack what is good in this world and are poor, we are the blessed of the Lord if we shun self-pity, envy, greed, and false means of self-enrichment.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.

Those who choose to be his disciples choose to hunger for the satisfaction that heaven alone can give.
In another place, the Lord tells of the blessed hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness give themselves over to zeal, devotion, piety, reverence, respect, and justice.
The blessed way that climbs the mountain of the Lord turns away from injustice, dishonesty, sin, and cynicism.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.

God’s goal for us is a joy we cannot begin to imagine— a joy that cannot be undone by poverty, hunger, weeping, hatred, exclusion, insult, and false denunciation.
We can hope for joy from God, and we can prepare for it.
At times, we might even taste or see a hint of it.
When we weep, our faith and hope in God who promises us joy can spur us to suffer patiently, to pray throughout the night with openness to deeper faith, deeper hope, and deeper love.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.

To follow the Son of Man up the mountain to the Father is to enter and embrace the Spirit that makes us willing to suffer on account of the Lord Jesus.
ON OUR ACCOUNT, “for us men and for our salvation,” the Son of God freely chose to be hated, excluded, insulted denounced as evil, and crucified on Mount Calvary.
He suffered, died and was buried.
“Behold, your reward will be great in heaven”: “he rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
Even in the earthly prayer of the Lord Jesus, the Blessed Trinity sat at home with itself.
God’s goal for us is that we be seated at his right hand as sons and daughters in his Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The path that climbs to that goal may wind through poverty, hunger, and weeping.
That path may bring upon us the same hatred, exclusion, insult, and evil denunciation that befell the Lord Jesus.
The path to the mountain of God also calls us to pray much, for we are the envoys and disciples of the Lord Jesus, a man intensely given to frequent and long prayer.
We stand before a stone altar, a mountain of God, upon which the Lord Jesus in flesh and blood will be at prayer in communion with his Father in the unity that is the Holy Spirit.
He will let us take all that he is into ourselves, but we must thereby commit all that we are to be his envoys and disciples.
Blessed are you who commit yourselves to him.
“Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”

That God Be Glorified in All