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 21, 2010

For Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

21 April, the Memorial of Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Acts 8:1b-8
John 6:35-40

Today’s first reading recalls the first attempt to destroy the Church.
It began with Israel’s High Priest and Sanhedrin trying and killing St. Stephen, the first to die for the Lord Jesus.
The Sanhedrin was Israel’s highest council and court of justice.
During his trial, Stephen saw a man at God’s side in heaven, and told the High Priest and Sanhedrin what he was seeing.
They held that no man was able or worthy to look into heaven, to be in heaven, or much less stand next to God.
They took St. Stephen’s words as a most foul insult against God.
After Stephen’s execution, the High Priest authorized Saul (the future St. Paul) to hunt house to house and jail men and women who shared St. Stephen’s faith in the Lord Jesus who said in his Gospel today, “I came down from heaven.”
The Son of God came down from heaven as a man,
He died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
From thence he shall keep the promises he makes in today’s Gospel.
I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

We have three kinds of hunger and thirst— three kinds of need.
Our bodily needs are real, but they are the least of our needs.
Greater is our need for relationships with other human beings.
Our greatest need is for God.
St. Anselm of Canterbury wrote of this [in his “Proslogion”].
My soul, have you found what you are looking for?
You were looking for God,
and you have discovered that he is the supreme being,
and that you could not possibly imagine anything more perfect.
You have discovered that this supreme being is life itself,
light, wisdom, goodness,
eternal blessedness and blessed eternity.

Those who die for God die for what we all need the most.
That is not to say our lesser needs do not matter, or cannot be reconciled with our need for God.
St. Anselm’s words [in his “Proslogion”] call for the coming together of all our needs in God-centered hope.
“Let my soul hunger for it, my body thirst for it, my whole being yearn for it.”
The Lord in today’s Gospel promises to satisfy all our hunger and thirst.
I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

I shall raise him on the last day.

At the end of all things he will give us back our bodies together with all who have gone to him in faith.
He says today:
this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should NOT LOSE ANYTHING of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.

He shall NOT LOSE ANYTHING, but shall raise up our bodies, our capacity and need for relationship, and bring our whole being to fulfillment by giving us himself— God the Son at the right hand of God the Father.
We celebrate here and begin to receive him who is the food and drink to satisfy forever all our needs.
Outside of this place and this hour, we need to know and want what he promises.
Then, we need also to live as knowing what we and want.
St. Benedict tells monks to mind whether a monastery newcomer knows what he wants and wants the right thing, that is, “if he most truly seeks God” [St. Benedict, 58:7].
It is right to hunger and thirst.
However, nothing less than God will do.
That is because, as St. Anselm put it, nothing greater than God can come to mind [“that than which nothing greater can be thought” (id quo nihil maius cogitari possit)— from Anselm’s “Proslogion”].

That God Be Glorified in All