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.

April 09, 2010

For Easter Friday

John 21:1-14
Acts 4:1-12

The Lord Jesus raised his beloved friend Lazarus from the dead.
Shortly thereafter came the Lord’s messianic Palm Sunday procession into the nation’s capital.
Then, his Last Supper, arrest in Gethsemane, interrogations by the nation’s High Priest and elders, Roman governor, and King Herod, his crucifixion, and now his resurrection!
After that whirlwind of dramas, suddenly in today’s Gospel we see what starts out as the return of something relatively ordinary in the lives of the apostles.
The apostle Peter decides to go fishing.
He used to make his living doing so.
After his rabbi rose from the dead and turned out to be not merely the Messiah but the Lord God himself, Peter going fishing seems banal and anticlimactic.
Was it an accident that he caught nothing at all that whole night, or was it God’s plan?
No matter what the case might have been, what followed at dawn was no accident.
The Risen Lord Jesus, whom they do not recognize, calls out to them from the shore.
He does not call out, “Men!” or “Friends!” or “Brothers!”
Rather, he calls out, “Children!”
With the knowing stance of Lord God and Father, he calls to them as to children.
This Gospel will continue tomorrow and show us the fatherly plan the Lord Jesus has for the vocation of Peter.
For now the Lord asks these fishermen, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
So their plans and efforts have failed again— their earlier messianic aspirations about the Lord Jesus, and now their plan to go back to ordinary fishing— all their plans have failed.
Now the Lord Jesus takes over their lives once more.
He commands them where to cast the net, and he states as a fact that they shall have a catch.
They obey without speaking.
Right away they pull in an overwhelming catch.
It wakes up one man, the disciple whom the Lord Jesus had touched with his love.
Waking up, he says to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When they get to shore, they find the Lord Jesus has no need for their miraculous success, because he already has fish cooking on a fire, and he has bread.
Nonetheless, he commands them to bring over some of their catch.
They obey in silence.
The Gospel reports no words as they watch him prepare and cook the fish for them.
Also, it seems they stand away from him, because the Gospel reports he “came over” to give them the bread, and that he did so again to give them the fish he cooked.
Among them is Thomas, who had put into words the knowledge they all have now: “My Lord and my God!”
On the day he rose from the dead, their Lord and their God fed them the Holy Spirit with his own breath.
Their Lord and their God, risen from the dead, is now cooking their breakfast for them and serving it to them.
Perhaps they remember now with shock that at his Last Supper with them their Lord and their God had washed their feet.
Their own ideas and plans about him failed.
Their own ideas and plans about ordinary fishing have failed.
Now they let him ask the questions, they let him take command, they let him go into action, and they wait for him to speak.
He called them “children.”
He knew they needed him to be a father.
They need everything he does.
Apart from him they can do nothing.
That’s what he said to them at his Last Supper in this Gospel [15:5] on the night one of their own betrayed him.
Apart from him they can do nothing; but abiding in him, and he in them, they can bear much fruit or net an overwhelming catch.
The overwhelmingly successful catch they have made is due not to their own efforts in the dark of night, for on their own they have failed.
They owe their miraculous success to the dawning of his presence, fatherly concern, command, and their childlike obedience even without being awake to his presence and identity.
The Lord Jesus will go on to command more from them, beginning with Peter, more than their own plans and their own strength can conceive and realize apart from childlike obedience to him as their father.
He himself, the Lord Jesus, called his own resurrection an act of obedience to a mission he received from his Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.
He said so in his first words to them after his resurrection [20:21-22].
“As the FATHER has SENT me,
even so I SEND you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Lord Jesus rose from the dead because the Father sent him in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like his own Father, the Lord Jesus also sends his “children” in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Only the work and the will of the Lord Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit that he himself, like a father, prepares and feeds to them in his Body and Blood, only that can bring from their childlike obedience a mighty catch and abundant fruit where mere human plans and efforts are doomed to fail.
On the day we recalled the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, how right and necessary that we renewed the promises of the Baptism most of us received as children.
May we abide committed to him as he abides committed Bodily to us in the Blood and Spirit of the new and everlasting covenant.

That God Be Glorified in All

April 06, 2010

For Easter Tuesday

Acts 2:36-41
John 20:11-18

The two angels inside the tomb were not sitting just anywhere.
One sat where the head of the Lord had lain in death, and the other where his feet had rested.
The open tomb in the garden shows us “heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” [Jn. 1:51]— one at his head and one at his feet.
In this new “Garden of Eden,” the angels do not speak Mary’s name, but use a title, “Woman.”
This is strange, because in the Word of the Lord the angels of God always know our names, or give us new names for a special mission.
“Mary” is a name, but “Woman” is a mission.
After the angels, the Lord himself, who has always known her name, will first call her, “Woman.”
She, without being awake to it, is now in the new Eden, the garden of the resurrection that the Lord God has planted.
There ought to be no weeping in this place, for the Lord God says:
Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.
He will dwell with them,
and they shall be his people,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more,
for the former things have passed away.
Behold, I make all things new. [Rev. 21:3-5]

So, the Lord God asks her as did the angels, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She has not yet awakened to the newness of all things.
So, she yet speaks of the old, her old mission, her “dead” mission.
“Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
She still holds on to his death.
He now reaches into her dead mission, and calls her by her old name, “Mary!”
This is the first time she has heard her old name spoken by a voice that has triumphed over death.
She awakens now, turns again to him, and gives him a title, a new one that has not yet sounded in the Gospel: Rabbouni.
Others have called him Rabbi, a title for a teacher.
Its literal meaning is “my great one.”
Rabbouni is the same, except it is more deeply respectful, and is another way of addressing him who is “my Lord and my God” [Jn. 20:28].
Now her Lord and her God tells Woman her mission.
She is not to hold onto him as if he were merely dead and risen.
She may hold onto him, however, as one ascended to the Father.
“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”
For now, Woman’s mission is to go into the heart of the Church, not out to the world.
Inside the Church she is to testify to the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord upon whom angels ascend and descend.
He tells Woman:
... go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’

In those words the Lord gives another new name.
In the Gospel, he has never called his apostles his “brothers”— not until now.
Now he calls them “my brothers,” sharing with them his resurrection, his ascension, his Father, his God.
... my brothers...
I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.

In his resurrection and his ascension he has renewed and commissioned Woman, and he has renewed and commissioned Man.
He sends Woman into the heart of the apostolic Church, having her let go of mourning but hold on to faith in his ascension.
As for the Men of his Church, he would have them know that his Father is also their Father.
As to the Men’s apostolic mission to the world, the Lord does not tell that to Mary Magdalene, but will himself tell them and empower them for it by breathing the Holy Spirit upon them.
For now, Mary— Woman Renewed— comes to know her dignity and her mission within the Church.
Centuries later, St. Therese of Lisieux awakened sharply to the same mission of Womanhood, and wrote [in her autobiography]:
my call is love....
In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love,
and thus I will be all things....

With words of love and faith, words holding on to hope in the ascension of the Lord, Mary, now Woman Renewed, stands in the heart of the Church, and tells the brothers of the Lord, “I have seen the Lord.”
All of us in the Church, Men and Women, we have our dignity from the Lord whose Father is our Father.
We do not expect to him to satisfy us on earth.
Rather, we let go in honor of his ascension, whereby he enthrones our dignity, not in the tomb where his head and his feet had lain, but at the right hand of his Father and ours.
With faith, hope, and love— a trinity of power from God— we stand as his Church, and we own our dignity higher than the angels: “I have seen the Lord” who had died, but has risen, and has ascended to his Father and my Father.
Upholding our dignity in Christ, St. Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost what we heard in the first reading today.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

My sisters in the Church, my brothers in the Lord, he has made all things new for us.
This is the day the Lord has made— let us rejoice in it and be glad!

That God Be Glorified in All