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.

December 09, 2010

For Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Isaiah 41:13-20
Matthew 11:11-15

Today the Gospel puts a piece of writer’s artistry on the lips of the Lord.
We can reckon in his words today six sayings, but the six are set up like three sets of twin sayings nested inside each other.
The outermost twin sayings, the first and the sixth, are about SAYING and HEARING.
The first is “Amen, I SAY to you,” and the last is “Whoever has ears ought to HEAR.”
“Amen, I say to you”— the Lord Jesus invented that expression.
It never appeared in the Old Testament or any other Jewish or Hebrew writing until the Lord Jesus said it.
It has the same force and introduces the same forceful kind of message as when the Old Testament prophets would cry, “Thus says the LORD,” the GOD of Israel.
So, when the LORD Jesus uses this saying of GODLY force, “Amen, I say to you, then “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
The next twin sayings (the second and the fifth) nest inside the first two, and uphold the outstanding greatness of John the Baptist— John as the greatest man born on earth, John as like to, but greater than, Elijah.
Elijah fought a monarchy and its eight hundred and fifty prophets who turned the people of God to the worship of the idols Astarte and Baal.
Elijah violently demanded that the people repent and return to God’s covenant.
After praying down fire from heaven in the face of the eight hundred and fifty prophets of the monarchy, Elijah personally slit all their throats.
By paradox, John the Baptist had his throat and neck cut through by a monarch whose sins he had publicly condemned.
Zealous Elijah— whose memorial day in the Church is July twentieth— Saint Elijah had violence and blood on his hands out of zeal for the covenant of old.
Saint John the Baptist, in his zeal for the coming of the Lord, did not shed the blood of others.
Instead, he used the violence of words to demand repentance and readiness for the coming of the Lord that would bring on a new and everlasting covenant.
In today’s third and middle pair of sayings we hear about the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
Though John the Baptist was the greatest man of earthly birth:
... the least in the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is greater than he.

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.

Today’s first reading tells us of such violence.
I will help you, says the Lord;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
I will make of you a THRESHING sledge,
SHARP, new, and double-EDGED,
to THRESH the mountains and CRUSH them,
to make the hills like chaff.
When you WINNOW them, the wind shall CARRY THEM OFF
and the STORM shall SCATTER them.
But you shall rejoice in the Lord,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

After the violent intervention, then comes the glory, and today’s Psalm sings of it.
... O my God and King....

... let your faithful .... speak of your might and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Both help and glory now come and call out to us through the new and everlasting Eucharistic Covenant of the Lord Jesus in his Body violently given up and Blood violently shed for us so that sins may be forgiven.
“Amen,” the Lord Jesus says to us, “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
If we would at least be born in the Kingdom of heaven, let us stir ourselves into prophetic zeal, fight against our own sins, and repent of them.

That God Be Glorified in All