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.

May 01, 2010

For the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker

Colossians 3:14-15,17,23-24
Matthew 13:54-58

“Is he not the carpenter’s son?”
The carpenter St. Joseph is of the house and lineage of King David from the town of Bethlehem where the Lord Jesus Christ also was born.
The first time God sent an angel to St. Joseph, the angel called Joseph, “Son of David.”
St. Joseph’s full Biblical name would have been “Joseph son of Jacob”— but the angel called him “son of David.”
God gave St. Joseph a royal mission.
St. Joseph was to serve as a father for Christ, to take a Biblical father’s role of lawfully naming the boy, and thus give the boy membership in St. Joseph’s own royal family tree.
By the law of God’s people, the Son of God on earth bore the name “Jesus” and belonged to the royal house and lineage of David because St. Joseph, serving as his father, publicly said so.
King David himself did not come from a royal house, but was king because God sent a man, a prophet, to say so.
Now the Lord Jesus belongs to the royal house because God had St. Joseph say so.
St. Joseph, the carpenter who lived and worked in Nazareth, gave to the Son of God a share in the title “Son of David.”
Everything we know about St. Joseph was wrapped up in the work of obedient service to the mission of the Son of God.
Today’s first reading calls us to the same obedient work that St. Joseph fulfilled.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus

be slaves of the Lord Christ

Obedient as a slave in the name and the mission of the Lord Jesus, St. Joseph worked as a carpenter for the Nazareth townsfolk, who turned out un-neighborly and small-hearted, as we see in the today’s Gospel.
In sundry ways, St. Joseph the worker foreshadowed the work of Christ.
St. Joseph is a carpenter whose ancestral home is Bethlehem, a name meaning “house of bread.”
Christ was born there to be the “Bread of Life from Heaven.”
As a child on earth, his life depended on bread earned by the work of St. Joseph.
As St. Joseph worked for the un-neighborly and small-hearted of Nazareth, so Christ serves the un-neighborly and small-hearted everywhere, including us.
We have the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation in the Body and Blood of Christ.
For his part, Christ in flesh and blood lived, grew, and flourished on earth because he had a breadwinner, fatherly love, and good example in the person and work of St. Joseph.
By the work of St. Joseph, Christ the King grew to manhood, and has now named us royal sons and daughters of the house of God.
While we yet work on earth, may the prayers of St. Joseph the Worker uphold us in the work of salvation!
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus

be slaves of the Lord Christ

That God Be Glorified in All

April 28, 2010

For Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Acts 12:24-13:5a
John 12:44-50

Today in the Gospel it is late in the day on Palm Sunday.
Earlier that day, the crowd shouted “Hosanna!” as Christ entered Jerusalem.
Afterwards, as he spoke to the crowd, he suddenly said, “Father, glorify thy name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” [Jn.12:28]
Only a few other times does the Gospel say the voice of God the Father rang out on earth.
Today’s first reading tells us a thing more rare, words the Holy Spirit has spoken: “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
The words of the Spirit and the voice of the Father have rung out upon the earth.
Today in the Gospel, the Lord Jesus also speaks out loud.
In fact the original language of the Gospel says the Lord Jesus SHOUTED today.
The Gospel used the same word to say crowds SHOUTED “Hosanna!” earlier in the day and “Crucify him!” later in the week.
In today’s Gospel Christ is shouting back to the Palm Sunday crowd:
that he is the one who speaks and acts for God and as God;
that to reject him, the Christ, is to reject the Father who sent him;
that to reject Christ is to resist the command of the Father and to stand condemned.

By the standards of some in our culture today, his message is arrogant, non-inclusive, unacceptable, and made worse by shouting.
It is the message he shouts in his Gospel— and he shouts more than once throughout his Gospel.
If we want the joy and fulfillment of eternal life, we must turn to God.
If we want to find God, we must look to Christ, to see and find in Christ what God wants for us.
Over and over in both his Gospel and his Eucharist we meet, hear, touch, and consume the Son of God.
By his Eucharist he shouts his sacrifice for the communion of The New and Everlasting Covenant, My Body GIVEN UP for You, My Blood SHED for You.
His real presence in his Eucharist also shouts his flesh-and-blood resurrection in this world.
Today in his Gospel he shouts that he “came into the world as light.”
In his Eucharist he comes into the world as light shouting in ACTION— straight, swift, on the spot.
His body he gives up, his blood he sheds— his Eucharist is a shout and a light.
The shouting light of availability, intimacy, self-surrender for our taking and swallowing!
The shouting light of new and everlasting commitment and forgiveness!
The light shouting, “Do this in memory of me!”
“Do this”— there is WORK to be done.
In the first reading today, we heard the Holy Spirit call for men to be set apart “for the WORK to which I have called them.”
“Do this in memory of me”— of HIM who shouts in his Gospel today:
Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words
has something to judge him: the word that I spoke,
it will condemn him on the last day,
because I did not speak on my own,
but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life.

Eternal life— thus his politically incorrect shouting opens the possibility of our receiving his gift of everlasting joy, goodness, beauty, and fulfillment in God.
In answer, the last words of the Bible [Rev. 22:20-21] are the shouts of believers.
Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints!

That God Be Glorified in All

April 25, 2010

For the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 13:14,43-52
Revelation 7:9,14b-17
John 10:27-30

In the first reading, Paul and Barnabas were in a city of the pagan land of Pisidia, in today’s land of Turkey.
They were preaching to the city’s Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath.
They won such interest among Jews and pagans that “almost the whole city gathered to hear” them on the Sabbath of the following week.
In the second reading, countless men and women, “from every nation, race, people, and tongue”— so including Jewish and pagan converts— all stand in heaven at the end of time.
They worship before the throne of the Lamb, the Lord God Jesus Christ.
They have suffered for him and his Gospel.
In the third reading, the Gospel, Christ is at the Jerusalem Temple.
It is the week of the Hanukkah festival, recalling the re-consecration of the Temple about two hundred years before, after invading pagans had desecrated it.
All three readings have to do with eternal life and a place and time of worship.
All three also have to do with Jews, pagans and Christians.
As for Christians, the first reading says “the Lord has commanded us” to serve as “a light to the Gentiles” that we “may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth”— for both Jews and pagans.
For those who sincerely receive Christ— in mystery or openly— the second reading holds a great promise.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

The last eight weekdays of daily Mass have taken us through a single Gospel chapter [Jn. 6] where Christ makes the same promise.
I am the bread of life;
he who comes to me shall not hunger,
and he who believes in me shall never thirst. [6:35]

The will of him who sent me
is that I should lose not one person of all those he has given me,
but raise each one up at the last day. [6:39]

That promise is in today’s Gospel also.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them,
and they follow me.
I give them eternal life,
and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.

Invincible, everlasting life and the guarantee of his invincible hand and the Father’s invincible hand— that is quite a promise for a mere man to make.
So Christ adds a claim to be endlessly more than a mere man.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me,
is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.

The Jews heard that as a blasphemous claim to be God equally with the heavenly Father.
The Gospel goes on to say they picked up stones to pound Christ to death.
On that day they did not pull off hurting or killing him.
That had to wait until the first Christians betrayed, abandoned, disowned, denied, and lied against him.
The Christians did it first: allowing him to die in their hearts to save their own skins.
The wicked— or holy— irony is that in his heart Christ chose to suffer death to save our skins and our hearts.
The second reading said it of Christians: “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
For this reason they stand before God’s throne....
They will not hunger or thirst anymore....
For the Lamb... will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

By his own invincible hand, he will end every kind of hunger and thirst.
By his own invincible hand, he will uphold us beyond sadness and fear.
By his own invincible hand, he will, give us life, joy, and glory without measure or end.
However, our receiving the fulfillment of his promises depends on our fulfilling the first two lines he says in his Gospel today.
My sheep HEAR my voice;
... and they FOLLOW me.

We have come to this temple consecrated to God in Christ, and to this altar of the sacrificial Lamb of God.
He gives his word— both in his Gospel and in his Body and Blood.
So we hear his voice.
My sheep HEAR my voice;
... and they FOLLOW me.

Is that true of us?
If I want to be truly faithful in following Christ, then I must consecrate my every free and knowing choice to serve as “a light to the Gentiles” and “an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”
If I want to be truly faithful in following Christ, then I must consecrate my every free and knowing choice to fit into the Spirit-filled temple of Christ’s invincible hand.
Only then may I hope to stand before his throne, to hear him say to me again, “The Father and I are one,” as both of them take me into their hands forever.

That God Be Glorified in All