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.

June 17, 2010

For Thursday of the Eleventh Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 6:7-15

“Your Father knows what you NEED before you ask him.”
The Lord’s Prayer, then, is a short prayer of NEED.
In the first place, we NEED our Father who is in heaven.
To call on him as Father is to confess ourselves to be CHILDREN who NEED him.
So as to be honest in confessing our need for “Our Father,” we must think and choose and live by knowing that we NEED nothing so much as him, and that all else is nothing if we do not have our Father.
We NEED to let go of all that may stand in the way of seeking to be filled by our Father first and above all.
We then also NEED to ask, “Hallowed be thy name.”
We NEED that.
Yet, how shall it be fulfilled unless we do the hallowing, and become the hallowing?
To say “Hallowed be thy name” is to take a stand on going the way of “all hallows”— a stand on walking the way of all saints.
By saying “Hallowed be thy name,” we command ourselves to be saints for the name of our Father.
After our Father himself, what we NEED next of all is to be saints, or else all is lost forever.
Against that loss we NEED to pray, “Thy kingdom come.”
Our Father is a king, and heaven is his kingdom.
We are his children, his subjects, his
followers, and citizens of his kingdom.
Yet we falsify, nullify, and lose it all unless we see to it that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We NEED to do his will— we NEED it.
We NEED it this day and everyday more than we NEED earthly food.
His will is bread above all being [epioúsion, Mt. 6:11].
As the Lord Jesus says it elsewhere, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” [Jn. 4:34].
Since we defy our own greatest NEED, we also NEED to ask our Father to forgive us our trespasses.
Even in this, our Father wants that his will be done on earth by our forgiving those who trespass against us.
We NEED to do so, if we are to be children who are with their Father who is in heaven.
We are tempted to go elsewhere than heaven, but are blinded to it by our own FALSE needs by which we lead ourselves into temptation.
We NEED our Father to lead us out of our own self-temptation, and also to deliver us from the evil one who adds his temptations to the ones we make for ourselves.
“Your Father knows what you NEED before you ask him.”
Nonetheless, we ask him for what we NEED so that we know it ourselves, admit it with humble repentance, and commit our whole being to it with faith, hope, and love.

That God Be Glorified in All

June 13, 2010

For the Eleventh Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

2 Samuel 12:7-10,13
Galatians 2:16,19-21
Luke 7:36 to 8:3

In the first reading, the Word of the Lord upholds that even with the Lord’s forgiveness there is deadly aftermath to David’s sins of adultery and murder.
Thus says the Lord God....
Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? ....
Now, therefore, the sword shall NEVER depart from your house,
because you have despised me....
The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin:
you shall not die.

David would not die for his sins, but others in his own house would fall to the sword for David’s sins.
The oldest truth in the first reading is far older than the reading itself.
The Word of the Lord says in the beginning there was no death for man.
Death began through the sin of the original man and woman.
Death is because of the original sin.
God forgave David instead of killing him for the sins of adultery and murder.
Still, David of Bethlehem, like all men of any town, went on to die because of the original sin in Eden of old.
Despite God’s forgiveness, the Word of the Lord testifies that David’s own new sin marked his family forever.
Thus says the Lord God....
... the sword shall NEVER depart from your HOUSE....

David’s “house,” his home, was the town whose Hebrew name, Bethlehem, means “HOUSE of Bread.”
The sword struck at David’s children and all their line down to the youngest boys of the little town of Bethlehem after the birth of the Lord Jesus.
The curse of the sword upon David’s line fell on the Lord Jesus himself through the Roman scourge, hammer, nails, cross, and the blade of a spear.
The Lord Jesus, a son of David’s line, died for David’s sins, for Adam’s original sin, for all sins, for yours and mine.
He is “the Son of God who has ... given himself up for me,” as the Word of the Lord says in the second reading.
Sin ALWAYS bears a penalty.
It ALWAYS does damage.
God’s forgiveness is an open door, an invitation, and power to walk again with him.
Nonetheless by each new sin we ALWAYS make the walk longer and ourselves weaker in the walking.
The last part of the Gospel today is about sinners who walked in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus.
... he journeyed from one town and village to another....
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women....

The first and longer part of the Gospel today is about another woman, one whose town-mates know her for what even the Lord Jesus calls “her many sins.”
Her feet have strayed many well-known times from the way of holy God.
She now bends over the holy feet of the Lord Jesus, and she weeps.
She now does what the end of today’s Gospel says other women will also do: namely, provide for the Lord “out of their own resources.”
The sinful woman— out of her own resources— her tears, her hair, her kisses, her alabaster flask of ointment— out of her own resources she showers outlandish veneration upon the feet of the Lord.
He names three things about this woman: “her many sins,” her “great love,” and finally her faith.
“So I tell you, HER MANY SINS have been forgiven
because she has shown GREAT LOVE.”
.... He said to her,
“Your sins are forgiven.”
.... “Your FAITH has saved you....”

Something else he does not put into words for her: his feet that she so honors will tread for her the way of the cross where he will freely pay a horrible, deadly price for her many sins.
The woman “has shown great love,” but the Lord Jesus has shown the greater love in laying down his life for her.
Again: he is “the Son of God who has ... given himself up for me,” as the Word of the Lord says in the second reading.
The woman’s many sins matter much to the Lord in his greater love for her and his deadly suffering for her.
What matters more is her faith in him, and so he tells her, “Your FAITH has SAVED you.”
Her faith in him led her to great, loving, public repentance in a ritual, a liturgy, of veneration in tears, the lowliness of kissing his feet, wiping them with her hair, and bestowing on them a sweet-smelling oil worthy to fill an alabaster jar.
We, too, are here to pour out on his feet a liturgy— kissing his altar and his Gospel, breaking bread and pouring wine in precious vessels upon his altar, bowing, kneeling, and burning there incense that of old was worth its weight in pure gold.
All these things, signs, and rites are precious to him only if we suffer to fill them and all our life with faith, love, and repentance— thereby fulfilling the Word of the Lord in the second reading.
I have been crucified with Christ
... insofar as I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God
who has loved me
and given himself up for me.

That God Be Glorified in All