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.

August 29, 2010

For the Twenty-Second Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29
Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24a
Luke 14:1,7-14

Today in his Gospel the Lord is one of the guests at a Sabbath meal.
He has already put a stopper on the protests any might have had as he worked the healing of a sick man in their midst, despite the religious ban on so-called work on the Sabbath.
Now he tells them two lessons— one lesson aimed at his fellow guests and another lesson aimed at the homeowner hosting the Sabbath meal.
The first lesson is a parable about being humble when choosing a seat at the festal gathering of a wedding banquet.
In the Lord’s teachings, he uses a wedding banquet as a sign of the heavenly reward that awaits the righteous or just after the general resurrection at the end of the world and the last judgment of the just and the wicked.
There can be a practical advantage to choosing a humble seat at the festal gathering of a mere earthly wedding banquet.
However, the Lord’s words, “go and take the lowest place,” also guide us in respect of the last judgment before the everlasting wedding banquet that is to reward the just.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
To have been exalted is what we hear about in today’s second reading.
... you have approached...
the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

It is a wedding banquet, and the wedding is the new and everlasting covenant in the blood of Christ.
When the Son of God first came to wed himself to embodied humanity, he did not exalt himself.
The Word of the Lord in Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians [2:7-9] tells it.
... he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave....
... he humbled himself
and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him....

The Most Holy and Exalted One humbled himself unto death.
His blood calls out for mercy from heaven, since it was shed so that sins may be forgiven, whereas the murdered blood of Abel cried out for God to punish his killer.
The Blood of Christ calls out for mercy from the heavenly Father, but also from us.
“Do this in memory of me!”
So we are to show mercy to those who owe us and cannot repay us.
“For,” the Lord says, “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
At the end, when the righteous or the just rise from the dead, Christ will repay them for the generous mercy they showed to those beset by inability to repay.
So both the lessons in today’s Gospel are about delaying our earthly advantages for the sake of everlasting advantages in which God exalts us for our humility and repays us for our generous mercy.
The everlasting advantage, everlasting exaltation, and everlasting repayment at the resurrection of the just, the humble, and the merciful will stand in contrast to the judgment Christ will pass against the unrighteous, the unjust, the self-exalting, the ungenerous, and the unmerciful.
We point to that every Sunday here at Mass, as we shall do in a short while, when we all stand up to profess our faith that Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and that we look for the resurrection of the dead when the last judgment will usher in the life of the world to come.
We could end up at a banquet of eating our words.
For now, the wedding banquet of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God [see Rev. 19:9] is already really present here in the festal sign and instrument that we call the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The Word of the Lord in the Acts of the Apostles [2:42] also calls it the communion and the breaking of the bread.
Here, the Lord Jesus Christ gives flesh and blood to both of his lessons in his Gospel today.
He has invited to his wedding banquet us who are unable really to repay him.
Then, even though he is God and our host, he takes the lowest possible place here at his own wedding banquet.
Lower than the slave serving us at table, Christ is here as the slaughtered feast, giving up his body for us, shedding his blood for us, so that sins may be forgiven.
Having accepted his invitation to his Eucharistic wedding banquet, if we follow him in humility now and generous mercy now, he will exalt and repay us at the resurrection.
However, even if we feast on the humility and mercy of Christ in his Eucharist, we can still choose to stay unrighteous, unjust, self-exalting, ungenerous, and unmerciful.
Then, as he tells it today and throughout his Gospel, he will send us downward and away when he comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Are we ready to own up to that, and to say we believe it?
If so, let us stand.

That God Be Glorified in All