Category Archives: Homilies and Talks


Fr Joachim’s Homily – 10/16/17

In the beginning the Lord God said: “Let it be.” And there was light; dry land and the seas; fruits and vegetables; a rich harvest.

And then there were human beings. In the image of God, they were created; male and female they were created. And God said, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the earth

and all the animals, the fish, and the birds. I give you all the fruits and vegetables to eat, a feast of rich foods. Take care of the earth and you shall be my people and I will be your God.”

But they said: “No. Let it not be.” “We will do it our way, not yours. We will have life on our terms, not yours.” And that is just what they got: sin, misery, suffering, and banishment from paradise. They lost sanctifying grace. They no longer lived in loving obedience to God. They were afflicted with ignorance, disordered desires, suffering, and death. Their relationship to each other was ruptured and became disordered. The earth no longer yielded its fruit easily. Food now had to be gotten by hard work and sweat.

But God did not give up on them. Already in Eden God promised a Savior.

And so, in the fullness of time, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to a Virgin whose name was Mary. Gabriel announced to her that she should be the Mother of the long-awaited Savior, that she should be the Mother of God. And Mary said: “Let it be.” And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

At long last, a response is made to God in loving obedience. Mary makes herself, and all that she has and is, available to God to do his will.

When Mary pronounced her “Let it be,” the Word became flesh and dwelt among us for our salvation.

The Word became flesh for us to save us by reconciling us with God who loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.

The Word became flesh so that we might know God’s love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Word became flesh to make us sharers of the divine nature. The Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man so that we, by entering into communion with the Word, might become children of God.

And where do we enter into communion with the Word?

Where do we enjoy even now a feast of rich food?

Where do we get the strength necessary to grow up to the fullness of the stature of Christ?

Where do we get the courage to say in any and all circumstances: “Let it be”?

Where do we meet the Good Shepherd who calls us to himself, who gives us rest and revives our drooping spirit?

Where do we encounter the Good Shepherd who leads us in the right path from death to life?

How do we prepare ourselves to live in the Lord’s own house for ever and ever?

Right here. Right now. In this Eucharist, a royal banquet of rich food, the Body and Blood of Christ offered once on the cross for our salvation, and now offered daily on this altar as our rich food for eternal life.

For surely this is the day on which it can be said: “Behold our God, to whom we look to save us. This is the Lord for whom we look. Let us rejoice and be glad that he is saving us.”

LCG Sunday Evening Compline October 15, 2017

October 15, 2017, at 7:25 pm EDT

WORSHIP WITH LCG SISTERS AND BROTHERS An important element of the Cistercian life is regular participation in the Daily Office. Come pray with LCG sisters and brothers at our monthly LIVE Compline service this Sunday. At the same time as our monks are praying Compline at Gethsemani Abbey. Twenty inspiring minutes to help close your day with our monks and LCG members and friends. Haven’t tried videoconference?? Take courage! Give it a try; as many of our members have found: Almost as good as being at Gethsemani Abbey.

You are encouraged to join at 7:25 pm for a brief intro, prayer, and words about contemplation and our lives as lay Cistercians. Allen Thyssen (LCG Spiritus) moderates our time together to include:
• Prelude – visit and background chant music; Welcome; Reflection by Natalia Shulgina (LCG Spiritus)
• Prayer
• Compline – together we pray the Office with the Monks of Gethsemani using the Abbey video
• Depart to personal “grand silence” for the night.

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NOT COMPLICATED: join and view with your colleagues in prayer at this liturgical hour. Several of our LCG communities regularly use Zoom for their monthly and special meetings—they share because they easily see and hear each other. They find Zoom affords a closeness and intimacy conducive to our journey of the spirit. NB: you can use Zoom via telephone as well.

DON’T HAVE THE ZOOM APP? IT’S FREE! EASILY DOWNLOAD THE ZOOM APP: Click the meeting identifier above; if not already a Zoom user you will be asked to download the Zoom app (takes about two minutes.) You will find what other LCG members have found: a good way of connecting with sisters and brothers to better share our Cistercian life of the spirit. Several of our LCG communities have successfully used Zoom—a videoconference application that you can quickly download on your computer or smartphone.

Chapter Talk, Sunday, Sep. 24 by Fr Michael

+The Psalms Open Further the Mystery of the Incarnation  Chapter Sep. 24th, ‘17

Some years ago while listening to one of Ronald Rolheiser’s books being read in the refectory, I remember him saying that we have hardly begun appreciating the full meaning of the Incarnation.  The danger in many things we hear about God’s taking on our human flesh is to be left with the impression Rrolheiser describes in his book The Holy Longing:

“that the incarnation was a thirty-year experiment, a one-shot incursion by God into human history. In this version, God came to earth physically and then, after thirty-three years, went back home. It uses the past tense for the incarnation and that is a dangerous under-understanding. The incarnation is still going on and it is just as real and as radically physical as when Jesus of Nazareth, in the flesh, walked the dirt roads of Palestine.”

It is all too easy for any of us to feel or think of Christ’s presence as remote, to think of God’s taking on our human condition as having little or nothing to do with my life today. For Augustine according to Rowan Williams, when we become members of Christ’s Body through the gift of the Holy Spirit: “the incarnational embrace of the prose of human existence means that the least spectacular act of authentic faith and obedience is validated by God, even though our preoccupation with dramatic success may hide it from our eyes.”

The psalms give a believing voice to the common place in the ordinary or even the dull moments of our lives. The full breath of our human experience is taken up into the life of the Spirit as we allow the Spirit who has inspired the psalms, to penetrate our human condition. According to Augustine, Williams tell us, “what most locates us in our earthly experience in all its reality is what most opens up the fuller sense” [of our humanity].…The Psalms offer a particular way of structuring the time of the believer’s life, so that the present is always oriented to Christ’s future.”

Our Christian lives, though fractured by the awareness of sin, are consciously identified with Christ’s own fractured and suffering life, culminating on the cross. Such an identification, according to Augustine:

Is enacted not only through sacramental practice but also through the recitation of the classic texts of frustration and hope, the Psalms, in which the divine adoption of the human voice is so keenly expressed. As these texts are recited, the profundum [the depth] of the human heart, never known to us in fullness, is opened up by God. What we do not and cannot know about our past, present, and future is given over to God, who will draw out of us cries and aspirations that more and more clearly give voice to what is hidden in us, knowing that all this elusive human agenda unrecognized within us is embraced in the incarnation and may be employed by Christ in his work.”

Because of what God has done in taking on our flesh, becoming incarnate through the Virgin Mary, God’s love is now able to fill our hearts through our prayer of the psalms. These inspired songs allow us to discover the full richness of our creation, the fact that we have been made in the image and likeness of God. Because of sin, we have lost sight of our dignity and are always in danger of belittling the dignity of others. Owning and giving expression to the richness and depth of our human experience through the psalms, what took place in Christ, takes place in us and we truly become living members of the Body of Christ.

Ronald Rolheiser draws out the full implications of this in his treatise I mentioned above, The Holy Longing where he says:

“Scripture, and Paul in particular, never tells us that the body of believers replaces Christ’s body, nor that it represents Christ’s body, nor even that it is Christ’s mystical body. It says simply: ‘We are Christ’s body.’ …The body of believers, like the Eucharist, is the Body of Christ in an organic way. It is not a corporation, but a body; not just a mystical reality, but a physical one; and not something that represents Christ, but something that is him.

This has immense implications. It means that the incarnation did not end after thirty-three years, when Jesus ascended. God is still here, in the flesh, just as real and just as physical, as God was in Jesus. The word did not just become flesh and dwell among us—it became flesh and continues to dwell among us. In the body of believers and in the Eucharist, God still has physical skin and can still be physically seen, touched, smelled, heard, and tasted.”

The psalms have a wonderful way of grounding us in this reality. They allow us to express all the varied and rich human experience any one of us goes through and to know that it is all accompanied and even identified with the living Christ. Most of us who have spent years in the monastic life know how difficult it is at times, to enter into the riches that are there. But letting the Psalms wash daily over us and through us, we know that we are living members of Christ’s Body, that we are entering into a prayer that makes us one with the whole human family, lifting up its diverse and often very painful human experience to the living God.

I sometime ask myself if this might not well be the real meaning of our cloistered calling! Hidden among the knobs of Kentucky, we are not only in close touch with the rest of the human race but called to lift up to our loving God, not only all the most painful, varied and joyful experience of God’s people but of all creation.

Homily Sunday morning by Fr Michael


The gospel this morning is a challenge for all of us. We all too easily side with the person who stood up to the landowner for giving the same wage to those who had worked the whole day as to those who has worked only an hour in the vineyard. After all a laborer deserves his or her pay, this is just a matter of justice. Our first reading gives us at least part of the answer to our dilemma but I think St Paul in his letter to the Philippians gives us the full explanation.

When God says to us through the prophet Isaiah “ my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” we are being reminded of how easy it is for any of us to misinterpret the mind of God, to begin to assume that the way I think is the way it ought to be. Jesus is telling us as much in the parable, how our human judgments about labor in the God’s vineyard may differ from those of the kingdom of heaven. I am reminded of the good thief on the cross beside Jesus during his crucifixion, his asking Jesus to be remembered when he came into his kingdom, gained for him Christ’s promise: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Often enough in our world today we see God working in human lives in so many unexpected ways.

It is the reading from Paul, however, that seems to me to give us the key to our parable. He tells the Philippians: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” Paul sees clearly what labor in God’s vineyard entails and what the daily wage is that God gives us as we work to be faithful to our Christian calling. It means allowing Christ to be magnified in us whether by life or death. It means not knowing which to choose, whether to depart from this life so as to be with Christ or to remain in the flesh for the benefit of others. The wages of our working in God’s vineyard is a sharing in the very life of God’s beloved Son. This being the case, it matters very little to us whether those who worked one hour receive the same wages as we who have labored all day long. So wonderful, so gracious, so loving is God’s gift to each of us that our only wish is that every member of the human family may share in it.

God is generous beyond our greatest imagining! To become living members of Christ’s own Body, so that the life blood that flows in the veins of the glorified Christ, flows in our own veins as his living members is our dignity and destiny. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, our lives become one with his in today’s world, living witnesses of the gospel that as Christians we are called to proclaim.

Is this not at the heart of the Eucharist we are celebrating together around this altar this morning. This altar is the symbol of the loving sacrifice Jesus endured on Calvary which becomes not only present but transformative as we gather here in faith. As we allow what Christ has accomplished to nourish the whole of our lives, as with St Paul, Christ is magnified in our bodies as well, whether by life or by death. Here we are reminded of just how much we are living members of his own Body and are called upon to let this life touch all those with whom we live. Let us own our great dignity and be continually grateful for God’s continual gift all day long as we too labor in his vineyard.

Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a; Matthew 20:1-16a


Chapter Talk 9/17/17 by Fr Michael

+The Psalms as the Prayer of the Whole Christ     Chapter, Sun. Sep. 17th, 2017

Let me begin with a saying, that some attribute to St Theresa of Avila:

“Christ has no body now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”

St Augustine gives great emphasis in his understanding and experience of the psalms on how they are the prayer of the whole Christ, of Head and members. Rowan Williams whom I quoted last week, draws our attention to a key text in Augustine’s commentary on Psalm 140, writing that:

Augustine identifies two texts fundamental for all Christian hermeneutics [or interpretation of the Scriptures]—Jesus’ question to Paul on the Damascus Road (“Why are you persecuting me?”) and the parable of the last judgment in Matthew 25, where Jesus identifies himself with “the least of the brethren.” Both of these assert the unity of the head and the Body in the church: Jesus speaks in the voice of the suffering Christian. This principle is of particular significance where texts in the Psalter express spiritual desolation and struggle: The Psalms are the words of Jesus, the Word who speaks in all Scripture. But how can we understand words that imply alienation from God when they occur on the lips of Jesus? Only by reading them as spoken by the whole Christ, that is Christ with all the members of his Body. He speaks for us, makes his own the protesting or troubled cry of the human being, so that his own proper and perfect prayer to the Father may become ours.”

The psalms open up for us when we understand them as the prayer of the whole Christ and what a gift it is for us as a monastic community to enter into the cry, the experience of all Christ’s members through them. When we stand or sit in choir to sing and recite the psalms we become one with all struggling humanity, one with all the joy, the pain and wonder of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Just as Jesus has identified himself with the least of his brothers and sisters, especially with those who are being persecuted for their faith as St Paul was doing before his conversion, so we too become one with them in our own time, in our own  world today. Is this not the great ministry of the monk, the way we make our own the deep longing and cry of all those most in need. We become the living voice of Christ’s own prayer in them.

Rowan Williams goes on to say that:

“In the state of spiritual darkness, we are tempted to think that God is absent, yet when we hear Christ speaking ‘our’ words of anguish, we know that this cannot be so. His humanity is inseparably united with God so that, if he gives voice to our suffering, we know that such suffering does not silence God… The opening of Psalm 21 is central, and Augustine reverts to it many times: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ is a kind of paradigm of how Christ as Head speaks for the Body. There is also an interesting phrase in the Enarrationes [or Commentary] on Psalm 65, where Augustine describes the cry as ‘God appealing to God for mercy. It is as if we have an anticipation of the twentieth-century theology of Christ’s dereliction developed by Hans Urs von Balthasar. The eternal difference in Trinitarian life between Father and Son is what makes possible the identification of the Son with even the most radical state of ‘otherness’ from God or separation from God.”

So often we may ask where is God at this stage of our lives, what seems to be happening to us is making little or no sense. This may well be in fact, one of the most fruitful times of spiritual growth but we experience it as something beneath our dignity, as an apparent emptiness and meaninglessness. St Bernard was fond of speaking of the comings and goings of the Bridegroom in our lives, of times when we experience God so near to us and then as distant and remote. He tells of how it is then that we learn true longing and are drawn into the great mystery of God’s very own love, free of all self-centeredness. Communing with Christ takes us into new waters, along unexpected paths, all of which help us to grow in the life of the Spirit where God can do with us whatever he will.

In Fr Elias’ recent note about the General Chapter, he told of how five youngish superiors have been invited to speak about how they see monastic life in our own time. There are many currents of thought in our society today, a lot of influences that come to bear on the young men and women called to enter our way of life. More than ever, it is important that we be sensitive to these currents and influences so as to discern what is authentic for ourselves and those in early formation. It is for us to discern the loving will of God amid them all so as open ourselves to union with the living God whom we are always seeking in this life. The psalms, it seems to me, are a great means for this very kind of insight and discernment. Daily, they bring the living Word of God to bear on what is going on in our hearts, our thinking and subtle desires.

The psalms leave no movement of the human heart untouched since by reason of the Incarnation, God has made all these movements his own. The psalms enable us to direct them all as means of divine praise, enable us to let them become the very voice of the Holy Spirit in us, crying out to God with unspeakable groanings. May we be given the grace to fully appreciate what they are inspired to do all day long.

Chapter Talk 9/10/17 – Fr. Michael

+The Psalms as our Daily Prayer:                               Chapter 10 Sep. 2017

After Fr Thomas Gricoski’s talks to us last July, I have felt it may be good to speak some more about the Psalms. It has struck me many times that of all the books of Scripture, this one predominates our life since we read, recite or sing all the psalms at least every two weeks of the year. Some of them we do so four to six times each week. With all the time we put into the Psalms we do well to reflect deeply on their meaning for our lives, let the psalms continually speak to us interiorly, let them give expression to all that is going on in our hearts.

As I say this I am reminded of how often a verse of the Psalms does pop into our minds throughout the day, addressing a particular situation we have to deal with at a given moment. How true this is to the spirit of St Benedict who asks us in his Rule:  “What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?” So much of our life, the whole of our life really, depends on our openness to the Word of God to which we are exposed all day long, especially in the Psalms. As followers of Christ, we are listeners to the Word, persons being continually formed by the inner voice of God as it is being spoken from deep within us all day long.

Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury has done some excellent work on Augustine and the Psalms and I would like to use this as a basis for sharing my own reflections with you. He brings to our attention that:

“The very first sentence of Augustine’s Confessions is a quotation from the Psalms, and for the rest of the work hardly a page goes by without at least one such reference. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the narrative autobiographical voice of the Confessions is systematically blended with the voice of the psalmist.”

From the earliest days of his conversion, the psalms had an enormous influence on how Augustine experienced what was going on within him. During the very last days of Augustine’s life, he had the penitential psalms posted in large script on the walls of his room so that he might pray them during his last hours. Rowan Williams describes this as follows:

“More than once, he [Augustine] uses the language of being ‘set on fire’ by their words, and he describes how they [the psalms] prompted the expression of his ‘most intimate sensations’ ..[Conf. 9.4.8]. “

“The reader of the Confessions will be aware that, for Augustine, the reading of the Psalms was more than simply a ‘devotional’ reading of a holy text, let alone reading to inform or instruct. The psalmist’s voice is what releases two fundamentally significant things… It unseals deep places, emotions otherwise buried, and it provides an analogy for the unity or intelligibility of a human life lived in faith. Here is a conversation with God that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And in the course of the conversation, the human speaker is radically changed and enabled to express what is otherwise hidden from him or her. Augustine speaks of what the psalm he is discussing ‘makes of him’: the act or recitation becomes an opening to the transforming action of grace (Conf. 9.4.8.)

How often, in each of our own lives, we find the psalms we are praying,  give expression to the deep movements within our own hearts and for Augustine this is exactly what they are intended to do. They are the expression of the divine and human exchange that is constantly taking place as we live our lives. They may not always set us on fire but simply allow us to give expression to deep movements of wonder, doubt or pain taking place within the depths of our daily experience. When these movements remain unconscious, they cause harmful effects within us and in community life unless they are given expression. By giving expression to them, they help us not only to discover these deep feelings but to fully own them so as to allow them become Christ’s own, praying within us.

The psalms serve as a doorway into the fullness of our human experience. I remember some years ago, when there was talk of dropping the so called “cursing psalms” from our own recitation or singing of the psalms as was done in the Roman Breviary, our Fr Matthew Kelty immediately objected. He was strongly opposed to such a withdrawal of these psalms, insisting that they give expression to feelings and movements in our hearts that we have to own if we are going to be fully human beings and in touch with what our hearts are capable of. To move into denial of them, he thought to be a failure to fully own our own humanity and therefore incapable to redirecting these feelings in positive ways.

There are forces within our own hearts and within our society that must be stood up to, confronted and disowned as forces for evil. Against such we must be firm and unrelenting or they will either compromise and do great harm to our human integrity. This is the great responsibility we all have as Christians in today’s world, to discern these negative and destructive forces so that the light of Christ’s truth may be affirmed and continue to do its redeeming work. The psalms help us do this all day long as we enter into their inspired meaning, bring ever clearer light to our own experience and what is taking place in the lives of our brothers and the world around us. As never before, it seems to me, this discernment and manner of prayer have become so valuable in our world today.




Fr Carlos – Homily – Carrying the Cross 9/3/17

It is human to measure the worth of one’s life by the successes one has.  Why should Christ, humanly speaking have had a different outlook  on life!  It is interesting to see and follow the beginning of his public career, how people were hanging on his lips, when they realize that he was preaching “with authority and not like their scribes.”  He was working miracles and wonders so that the whole of Jerusalem knew him.  It was only a matter of time and it was imminent that the people will follow him in ousting the romans.  He could really win over the authorities to their side.

That was what the disciples thought.  They were euphoric at his power and then, alas, he began to speak of his impending death.  What a  let down!   He was willing to die according to his Father’s plan.  Peter would have nothing of it.  He will prevent Jesus from going to Jerusalem.   Jesus did not mince his words and he called Peter Satan.  He says you are thinking like men concerning the meaning and end of life and not God’s way.

Peter and the disciples represent humanity in their stubborn and arrogant belief that they could change society and the world.   All it takes is ingenuity, planning and the people’s support.   There is no change without God.  Nations have pinned their hopes on many of their leaders and it brought  disasters and horror which humankind have never witnessed before.  We pinned our hopes in kings, queens, presidents and and all forms of leader ship and they disappointed us badly.  The disciples were thinking of this earthly life and how to live it well through  a well established kingdom of a Messiah.

Jesus is not about the kingdom here on earth.  He has one mission and that is to save humankind, to conquer death which puts an end to all the high aspirations of human beings as a group and as individuals.   What would it profit anyone to gain all the world or even to be successful, let’s say, in changing communities for the better if all these will be annihilated by death.  To be sure government and organized society is a reality and a must exist in this world but it is also imperative that is run by the values of the gospel, or at least sympathetic to the dignity of human beings:  to promote the well being of whole humanity.   Or what can one give in exchange for his life?   Life is all and we humans cannot give it to others for we are by nature contingent and limited and  we cannot even justify our own existence.

The disciple must take up his cross and follow Christ.  This is not a defeatist attitude.  It is a realistic view of human life, that all have their crosses in life:  disappointments, loses in life, sickness and tragedies.  The cross is not something imposed upon us.  It is within human existence.  That is why God the Son when he became flesh could not exempt himself from this human cross else he would not be truly human.  In other words Jesus is teaching us how to bear our cross bravely, it was not His Cross.  He wants us to have life in its fullness.   He is showing us how to carry the human cross, i.e. in obedience to the Father who will lead everything to a blissful end.  We human beings introduced the cross in this world and in our lives, not God.

Carry your cross Jesus said as I carry mine.  And his cross is carrying the whole of humankind towards the Father.  For a Christian to carry the cross is the epitome of success because the cross, which is he sign of death has becomes the sign of life.  Only people who carry the cross can change the world.  The world is so predictable.  It always wants to use power and dominance of others to create a society their  leaders want.  They use force, violence, death, threats and exploitation and oppression.   Look at all the nations at war.  So predictable!   All use the same program.  And ironically they want to preserve the lives of their peoples and nation and yet they want hesitate to annihilate one another so as to established their own preconceived  ideas of what the world and societies should be.  There is no mention of cross and yet ironically they bring it upon themselves and their cross leads to death.

If you notice when Jesus speaks about the cross you could not detect any trace of defeatist attitude or resignation to one’s fate for nothing could be done about it.  He speaks of a confidence that the cross can be conquered, death the final enemy has no chance if one follows the will of His Father.  Let us be realistic, we have crosses but we also have blessings.   What Jesus is warning us about is that we cannot deny crosses in life.  It is part of human life.  Problems are meant to be solved but crosses are meant to be carried.  We cannot solve the cross, for it is not a problem.   It is meant to be carried.

Fr Michael – Homily – 9/2/17 ‘Come and See’

The weekend we have 8-9 men here trying to discern vocation in their lives and thinking of our life. Please keep them in prayer. Here are my own reflections at the Eucharist this morning..

Homilette at the Eucharist this AM (Readings are 1 Thes. 4:9-11 and Mt. 25:14-30)

Our gospel this morning may well be one of the best for this Come and See weekend when we have with us a number of men seeking to discern whether they have a vocation to our way of life. When one looks at a monastic vocation or at any vocation for that matter, one must ask if this is going to be the best way of using our God-given talents? Will this way of life help me to multiply my gifts in a way that is not only pleasing to God but will work for the up building of the Church, the spread of the Kingdom?

Needless to say, a life of prayer and sacrifice is of great value for the life of the Church. We have only to think of how Mary, whom we commemorate in a special way this morning, her faith as she pondered the Divine Word, her giving flesh to the very Son of God and loving him all through life, have had an enormous influence for the continual growth of the Church. I also think of someone like St Bernard who used his many talents for the love of Christ during the early years of our Cistercian Order. More than what we do, it is who we become through an inner transformation that puts to the best use the talents we have received.

May God give to each and all of us gathered here this morning an abiding sense of Christ’s great love for us that we celebrate in this Eucharist so as to put to the best use our gifts and hear one day the Lord’s words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”


F Michael – Homilette 8/25/17 – Love

+Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22; Mt 22:34-40

The love asked of us by the great commandment, the great Shima, the love so wonderfully expressed my Ruth in our first reading toward, her mother-in-law, is beyond our human capability. And God knows this far better than we do.

It is only when we have deeply experienced such love, felt it in the depths of our own hearts, that we become capable of responding in such measure, become ready to risk such a venture.

Is this not what the Eucharist we celebrate each day is intended to be and bring about within our community and within each of our hearts. Here is made present a love that is beyond our best efforts to understand or to begin to grasp. Here is made present a love which is beyond all telling, Christ’s giving up his own life for us that we may be filled with his own Holy Spirit.

Sunday’s Homily by Fr Joachim for the Feast of St Bernard

“You are the light of the World,” says Jesus. He also says, “I AM the light of the world.” Our light is not our own. It is the light of Christ in us.

The love of Jesus is the cause of the light that we are to become. It is the love of Christ that sets us on fire and makes us a light to the world. Our light is the love of Jesus living and acting in us.

Jesus is the true light and we are light insofar as Jesus lives and loves in us and through us. We become light because we belong to Christ and are filled so completely with him, with his love, and with his light that we become a light to the world.

We are called by Jesus to be light. We are called to let the whole of our life, the whole of our being, be illumined by his love to make the Father known to the world just as he did and will do through us.

We shine for the sake of the Father’s glory. Our good deeds are to be seen so that they may attract the world to Christ and to the Father. We shine to draw attention to the Father and not to ourselves.

So how do we become light?

The program to become light is laid out for us in the Sermon on the Mount, from which our gospel is taken this morning. The sayings about salt and light put the matter in a nutshell. We become light when we are poor, merciful, meek, pure of heart, hungry for justice, agents of peace, and joyful in hard times. The rest of the Sermon covers all aspects of life as a disciple of Christ. It spells out the practical good deeds of a disciple of Christ.

When Christ’s love takes over our heart, life, and all that we have and are, we become a fitting lamp for the love and the light of Christ to be seen by the others and inspire them to praise and glorify our heavenly Father.

So, now what?

We can read the Gospel, especially the Sermon on the Mount, chapters 5, 6, & 7 of Matthew’s gospel. We read to become familiar with what Jesus is telling us about light and discipleship. We read to fix Jesus’ teaching in our minds.

We can practice what he tells us. Pick out one of his sayings and see if we can do it. For example, the saying about measuring out love and mercy to others. Because God will use the same measure for us that we use for our neighbor. We practice to fix Jesus’ teaching in our actions.

And of course, we can pray. We pray for light, understanding, and strength to live as Jesus is teaching us. We cannot live Jesus’ teaching on our own, so we need to pray. We pray to fix Jesus’ teaching in our hearts.

Read, Practice, Pray.

Doesn’t sound that hard, does it?