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 16, 2010

For Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Luke 7:24-30

For the last two Sundays, the last six weekdays, and today also, the Church ponders St. John the Baptist in the Gospel at Mass.
Beginning tomorrow, December seventeenth, until Christmas Eve, the Church keeps a special “season with a season” in which her Eucharistic Prayer at Mass has a special daily “Preface” that likewise ponders the Baptist.
That Preface says John announced Christ was about to arrive, and John pointed him out once Christ was present.
The words John voiced in pointing out Christ are part of Mass everyday.
Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Today in his Gospel, the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, says John is more than a prophet.
The Lord voices a prophecy from Scripture in which his own heavenly Father speaks to him.
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

In the Biblical languages, “messenger” is the same as “angel.”
For this reason, Christian art has at times drawn John the Baptist with wings as of an angel.
God the Father sent John the Baptist to do an angel’s work, to be the Father’s messenger preparing people for the coming of God the Son.
Some heeded the angelic voice of John, and underwent a baptism of repentance at his hands.
Today’s Gospel tells also of some who did not.
... the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by ... [John],
rejected the plan of God for themselves.

To reject God’s plan for oneself— that was the sin of the angel called Satan, and was also the sin of Adam and Eve.
Satan was the angelic messenger whose lie drew Adam and Eve away from God’s plan for them.
John’s angelic message drew the people back to God so they would be ready for God’s Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
John’s angelic message had people undertake a metanoia, literally “a change of mind.”
It was to be a change regarding themselves and their choices, to turn away from sin, and back to righteousness or justice towards God and neighbor.
The Gospel says:
All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God.

They are ready to welcome the Lamb of God.
God calls us to the same repentant readiness whether it is in regard to the graces of the Spirit, the second coming of Christ, or the power of the sacramental mysteries, especially the Eucharist.
We give voice to this repentant readiness here at Mass as we face the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God.
Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof;
but only say the word,
and my soul will be healed.

The same repentant readiness is a work that we monks of St. Benedict take up in prayer, chew over in lectio divina, and uphold in our vow of conversatio morum, of lifelong ongoing conversion.
On Monte Cassino, where he drew up his “rulebook” for monks, St. Benedict built two houses of prayer.
He named one for a convert, St. Martin of Tours.
He named the other for the one who called for converts, St. John the Baptist.
In the entryway of this Benedictine church in which we worship at this moment, a plaque invokes the prayer of St. John the Baptist for us.
If with St. John our lives invoke and echo the righteousness of God, then the Lord will receive us according to his word that we may live to receive from him the fulfillment of all our hopes.
Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquiuum tuum et vivam; et non confundas me ab exspectatione mea— “Receive me, Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.” [Ps. 118:116, that St. Benedict has each monk proclaim during the ritual for making his vows.]

That God Be Glorified in All