Category Archives: Homilies and Talks

Homilies

Homily by Fr. Lawrence for Sunday, November 17, 2019

Dear brothers and sisters – We live in perilous times. Nations are turning against each other. Old alliances are falling apart, new ways of fighting wars threaten fragile peace. Children are killed in their schools by other children. The gap between rich and poor is growing. Minorities are demonised as threats, are profiled and used as scapegoats. Immanent environmental disaster which threatens all life on the planet is recognized by everyone except those with the power to stop it. These are perilous times. Perhaps this is what the end times look like. In the 1960’s, everyone was worried that we would blow ourselves up, but now it looks like we will just slowly suffocate ourselves. T.S. Eliot may have been right – “This is the way the world ends / not with a bang but a whimper.”

Then again, at least some people in every generation since Christ have been sure that they were the ones living in the end times. This era looks dire, but what about the 14 th century when war and the black plague wiped out about half the population of Europe? And we don’t need to go back that far – the first half of the 20 th century saw war on a scale unimaginable before then. Dictators directed the deaths of millions of their own citizens. The Spanish flu of 1918 carried off about 50 million worldwide. Throughout human history, when have there not been wars and insurrections? When have there not been plenty of “earthquakes, famines, and plagues?” And every time a comet appears, some sect or other claims that here are “mighty signs… from the sky.” Many other eras have looked like the end of the world.

As Christians, we believe that the end of the world as we know it will coincide with the second coming of Jesus Christ. The prophecies about this time, including Jesus’ own, have the good and the evil separated out, the sheep from the goats, with the evil going to eternal punishment, and the good joining Christ in heaven. Most folks who think that the end time is approaching likely put themselves into the “good” category, among those who will be saved. Malachi the prophet belongs to this type. He warns us that the day of the Lord is coming, with recompense for those who fear God’s name, but with punishment for evildoers. “The day is coming,” he says, “blazing like an oven.” For evildoers, this day will feel like excruciating heat, burning them up, but for the righteous, it will feel like the sun’s “healing rays.” Both are fire, but are felt differently depending on the virtue of the recipient. It is clear that Malachi expected this day of the Lord to be immanent, to come within the lifetime of those listening to his words. He firmly believes that he is living in the last days. We, however, have a different perspective on his prophecy. Malachi is placed last by Christians in the order of the books of the Old Testament because his prophecies are taken to refer to the coming of Christ, and beyond that, to Christ’s second coming. The book of Malachi, then, immediately precedes Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus. Naturally, therefore, we read Malachi as Advent approaches.

Advent is about preparing for the coming of Jesus into the world, both his first coming as a baby, the son of Mary, and his second coming at the end of all time. It’s understandable that Christians would long, in a way, for the end of the world. For us it means the beginning of the reign of God, the institution of a new heaven and a new earth, in which death will be no more, in which God will wipe away the tear from every eye. But Jesus tells us that we should not try to anticipate when this time will come. By the time the Gospel of Luke was finished, his prediction about the temple being razed to the ground had already come true. But that this was not a sign of the end of the world, Jesus warns, “See that you not be deceived,” since there is always someone who will tell us that the end times are upon us. Instead, he tells us that before that time comes, there will be suffering. This is not surprising. All of us have suffered loss and tragedy in our lives. We may have escaped persecution as Christians, though there are many in the world today who do suffer persecution for their religious beliefs, but we can’t escape the death of loved ones, personal injury or illness, broken-heartedness, or the many disappointments, great and small, that life brings. He tells us not to focus on the end times, but on the trials we will face before then.

I once saw a cartoon which had one of those raggedy prophets, with a beard, in a ragged robe and carrying a sign. These signs usually say something like, “The End is Near!” But in this case it said, “It just goes on and on and on.”

Paul gives us some sound advice on what is important in the time between Jesus’ first and second coming. He advises the Thessalonians to “work quietly and to eat their own food.” This is a far cry from beating one’s breast, or adopting some extreme behaviour in anticipation of the Second Coming. It is particularly good advice for us here at Gethsemani at this time of year. Advent for us is a time of anticipation of Christ’s coming into the world, and a time of reflection on Christ’s next appearance, encouraged by our daily liturgy, but it is also our shipping season, when we are frantically but quietly busy earning our own bread, and earning the right to eat it. Jesus tells us that he will certainly come again, that the day of the Lord is real, but he also tells us not to spend our time fretting about it or predicting it. He tells us that we should focus instead on the present. The virtue he recommends is not prophecy but perseverance. “By your perseverance you will secure your lives,” he tells us. The end times will come, that is certain, but it is extremely unlikely, given the track record, that it will happen within our lifetimes. More than likely we will simply die like every single person before us. But when we die, we will encounter Christ in some way, not perhaps in the full way which will happen in the last days, but in some way. And we will be judged for the way we have spent our lives, the gift of life which God has given us.

This should be our constant preoccupation, to spend our lives well, in service to our brothers and sisters, like St. Paul, in faithfulness and perseverance in the path God has laid out for us, whether that path leads to family or career or into the monastery. And of course we should do all we can to alleviate the evils of our time. We wait in hope for the day of the Lord, but we live in love in the present moment. This is the best preparation we can make for the end times, whether they come in the form of Jesus’ blazing appearance from heaven or in the form of our own small deaths, a life given to God through love of our very real and very present brothers and sisters.

 

Homily by Fr Carlos on the anniversary of the Dedication of our Church, Nov. 15th.

Homily by Fr Carlos on the anniversary of the Dedication of our Church, Nov. 15th.

In the Old Testament whenever there is a God-event, its leader would erect a pillar of stone in order to commemmorate the power, magnficencen and the care that God showed to them.  Like Joshua who told the leaders of the 12 to pick up stones from the Jordan as they cross on their way to conquer the nations or Jacob who set up a pillar where he wrestled with God.  Moses also instructed the people Israel “to set up large stones and covered them with lime to write all the words of the law.”  It is the presence of God, with his power and glory, that hallowed the place and His great providence for Israel.

It was the beginning of , so to speak, locating the presence of an ubiquitous God..  Later on this God came down from the mountain and resided with them in tent to accompany them in their conquest of the land filled with milk and honey.   And when it was done David built a temple because he thought that God deserves more than to live in a tent and that David lived in a palace.  Gradually we see that the transcendent God who is everywhere and all powerful condescends to live among his people and made Himself accessible  to His people.  They worhsipped him not in any place in the desert but He can be found and addressed to in the temple.  It is not so that from now on human beings can confine God but God chose  to dwell in His house for human beings tend to forget easily.  And so just like of old God in his goodness chose Gethsemani to be his temple , home and church where people may meet him in loving adoration and prayers.  Once more He made himself accessible.

We are commemmorating the dedication of this church of Gethsemani humbly asking God to remain with us for we are his adopted children through the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a proper home for his children with God as Father.  There is a union in spirit unlike the temple where only designated priest

Can enter the holy of holies.   In our church the holiness of God is shared among those who love and revere him.  It is then a holy assembly and an assembly needs a holy temple to house them.  This Church then is a reminder of what God has done for monks of Gethsemani.  How they started humbly and in true poverty, trusting in the Lord, came here with very little financial source.  The generosity of God came to them through the many people who helped them establish this monastery.  The founding monks were like the Israel, exiles from the revolutionary storms that ravaged their country, France.  They too were persecuted like Israel.  So this church is the sign of God’s power and glory.

This building therefor is the locus of God’s presence, the place of the meeting of those who would speak with God, in knowledge and love of community united precisely by the love of God for them who brought them here.   It is, as it were, a sacrament – an outward and visible sign of that gracious indwelling presence.  God now resides in the building and more so in the temple of the hearts of those who worship him in love.  Day by the day monks persevere in prayer, hallowing the hours of their days, giving thanks to the wonderful work of God – the redemption of the whole humankind.  That is the monks concern to pray for the redemtpion of the world and they are joined who come here to pray with them.  This feast is proper to the monks here at Gethsemani, for as St. Bernard said, if we do not keep it, if we do no celebrate it it will not be kept at all.  Because the monks prefer nothing to God, they are made holy and therefore this house is blessed for their sanctified bodies in whom God dwells.  This church is to make sure that holiness resides here.  God is truly present here, all the more so, when everyday the Eucharist is celebrated and God is truly present among us.   In this we did not make ourselves holy by our efforts but it is God’s presence that sanctifies us all.   Let us pray that Gethsemani may always truly remain the house of God.  A house of peace, silence and loving communication with God who is omnipresent but deigned to be immanent is us.

Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram – All Souls

The Gospel:    John 11:17-27

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away,

and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him,

while Mary stayed at home.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.

Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,

and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,  the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

 

After the Gospel:

 

Today we do one of the things that has always marked us as  “Catholics”  —

pray for the Dead… continually … hopefully, pray for the dead. 

Customs have changed, but not the praying.

In the catacombs, the earliest Christians offered the Eucharistic   right at the tombs,

to bring Christ, the resurrection and the life,  to their dead, just as Martha had.  

A thousand years later, when  Saint Bernard wrote the life of St Malachy,

he included  Malachy’s       praying for his dead sister.

 

The two men first met when Malachy was Archbishop of Armagh, on his way from Ireland  to Rome, 

when he  stopped by Clairvaux to meet the famous Bernard;

they became such good friends that Malachy  obtained five monks to make a foundation at Mellifont, Ireland.

Later on, during  a second visit to Clairvaux, Malachy  fell ill, died in the arms of St Bernard,  was buried at Clairvaux.

 

In Bernard’s history,   St. Malachy didn’t get along with his sister, lost contact with her,  then didn’t see her any more before she died. After she died, Malachy  heard a voice one night telling him that his sister was hungry, she hadn’t eaten for thirty days. He remembered it was thirty days since he had offered Mass for her.  So once again he offered Mass for her, saw her  coming up to the church door  in a black garment, but she couldn’t enter.

He continued to say Mass for her and the next time she was dressed in a lighter-colored garment. The final time he saw her, she came into the church,  dressed in beautiful white, surrounded by blessed spirits.                                     

 

Not much for historians to look at, but it points out the importance of praying for the dead, reminds us  that one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is   to Pray for the Dead.

 

Especially nowadays, as they ask if Catholics believe in Purgatory anymore,

Didn’t the Church drop that doctrine?

 Today is part of the answer.

If you want to know what the Church believes: Look at how we pray –

                             What we believe and our prayer are twins that go together.

 

The Church deliberately puts All Souls Day right next to All Saint’s Day.  

Yesterday,  we remembered  the Saints already in heaven; today, we’re  praying for the dead

  on their way to heaven.

The key is:   On their way …

When we think of  our relatives, friends, fellow monks … 

they died like us  … humans..  with all their bruises and scars,

with all their weaknesses  and failings…

not  evil, their souls  condemned to hell,

but realistically,   even though they died in God’s friendship,

still  stained by the selfishness and  sins of this life,

rendering them unworthy of entering immediately  into  heaven;

they’re in an intermediate state, a state of purification after death,

a purification that will achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven.

 

All Souls is a day that takes us back to our roots,

a day of  memory, of  hope, reminding each of us to expect the mercy and love of Christ.

A day that says:  No matter what else changes,  never lose your memories as a family, a people,

never lose hope that Christ will accompany us, 

that He … the Resurrection and the Life … will be there,  waiting  with so much love.

 

Today is our best reminder in the Church year …

How  many saints  have said:

“All those  we’ve known and loved,  the ones  now our ‘faithful departed’ …

let us not hesitate to help them  by offering our prayers for them.”

Homily – Fr. James Conner – Prayer – 10/20/19

29th Sunday of Year – Cycle C

The readings today speak to us about the importance and necessity of prayer. Like Moses, we are to pray for the needs of the world. But his arms grew tired, and so he was assisted by Aaron and Hur who supported his arms raised in prayer. Our vocation as monks is also to support the active arms of those who minister to the needs of the People of God. Our vocation is one of prayer. Like the widow in the gospel, we are called to  trust in God for all of our needs. She persevered in asking for justice, and was finally heard. However it was not her repeated asking that was granted, but her continued humbling of herself before the unjust judge. Each time she came back was a further demeaning of herself before the judge. Our prayer is made to a Just Judge who is ready to hear us. But he grants our request only when we have true faith.

The gospel ends with a sentence which might seem not to follow from the parable. And yet in fact it is the key to all that was said. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Like Christ on the Cross, faith is that total abasement of ourselves before God. In a sermon, Meister Eckhart speaks of the danger of seeing prayer as something which we DO, which is heard by God and granted. Such prayer he calls that of the businessman. He does his good work in order to receive the goods that he needs. But prayer is not a business transaction. It is simply our self abasement before God in faith alone.

Even the prayer of Jesus was granted only when he had totally abased himself before the Father by hanging on the cross. His arms were held raised, not by other people, but only by the nails of the cross. And in that total self abasement before the Father, he gained a hearing for all of us before God.

We are called to follow in his path. As Paul says in the second reading, “remain faithful in what you have learned, because you know from whom you learned it.”  We have learned the lesson from Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross, and yet in that total emptiness He was heard and we have been saved. Hence Paul also reminds us to “have that mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus”.

Prayer, then, is that emptying of our self before God with total trust in His mercy because the prayer of Jesus on the cross was heard, and we have been saved – not by what we do of ourselves, but by what He has done for us. This is the faith which God will look for when the Son of Man comes. It is a faith which must be activated each day and each moment of our life. It is such faith, such total surrender of ourselves to God, which will open the way that God “will see to it that justice is done for all speedily”.

In celebrating this Eucharist we are called to enter into that mind and heart of Christ Jesus as He renews His offering of Himself and of all of us to the Father. Like the poor widow in the gospel and like Christ Himself on the Cross, we are to come before the Lord with total surrender, total faith in His prayer for us and for all the world, knowing that we will be heard by the Just Judge so long as we come before Him with full awareness of our poverty, our emptiness before God, that He may fill that emptiness for ourselves and for the whole world.

 

 

Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram -O GOD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER   – October 27, 2019

+O GOD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER                             30th Sunday(C), 2019

The words of Scripture this morning give comfort and encouragement to us all. We all sympathize with the tax collector who stands afar off, beating his breast and praying: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ The words challenge us as well for we also have those moments when, like the Pharisee, we think ourselves better than others and easily judge her or him for their way of life. The lesson of humility is not an easy one to learn but it grounds us in the truth Jesus seeks to convey, opening our hearts to the continual gift of divine grace.

The readings from Sirach and letter of St Paul to Timothy are beautiful instances of this divine working. God “hears the cry of the oppressed, ..is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.” In fact their voices seem to have a power over God until they are heard. In writing to Timothy, St. Paul is at the end of a life of labor and knows that in death God will reward him. But he too knows this is only because God has rescued him from the lion’s mouth and will rescue him “from every evil threat and will bring him safe to his heavenly kingdom.” To God alone belongs the glory forever and ever.

We have grown familiar with the story of the Pharisee and tax collector so that it becomes easy to ignore the call to each of us for a continual conversion. God is not all that interested in our exterior behavior but is very interested in our hearts, in what moves us to do the things we do. The divine judgement in our parable is all about whether our lives are self-centered or God-centered. It is not about out outward performance but our inner motive.

The Pharisee’s description of his religious practice is probably pretty accurate and his negative evaluation of the tax collector, accurate as well. Tax collectors in the time of Jesus, being paid little or nothing for their work would exact money from those from whom they demanded taxes to where they often became dishonest or greedy. The stance of the tax collector standing afar off and beating his breast is  an honest one.

What Jesus shows us in the parable is the inner disposition of each of these men and in doing so reveals what God is really looking for in each of our hearts. Where the Pharisee claims superiority over the other because of his good deeds, the tax collector begs for mercy. The Pharisee has no real need but the tax collector prays out of a deep sense of inner poverty and is answered.

Just being poor, oppressed or brokenhearted does not necessarily bring us closer to God. But if we allow such experiences to lead or move us to turn to God rather than to ourselves we will be sure to know the power of grace. God is all merciful and strengthens us as often as we turn to God in our need. This is what St Paul had done throughout his life and knew that he would be forever rewarded for it. One sees here the basis of so much of what St Benedict wrote in his Rule about the value of humility so as to run in the way of God’s commands.

There is always the danger for Religious to fall into a kind of self-righteousness, attributing to themselves the good they do. And as brothers we know how easy it is to begin judging one another for failures to meet our expectations of how one should live the life.

God sees us in a clearer light, for God sees what’s going on deep down within our hearts. The one we see sinning may well be asking for God’s mercy while we, because of our self-righteousness, fail to see our dire need. Ironically enough, to presume righteousness through our own power is to fall into sin, the self takes center stage rather than God. When God is at the center of our lives, we know by experience that God’s merciful love endures forever.

To know our own frailty is to be continually open to the wonderful gift we are about to receive in this Eucharist. It is a sharing in the infinite love God has for us in Christ Jesus, a becoming one with his very own Body and Blood. To do so is not only to go home justified but to be exalted already here below as a bearer of God’s very own life and love.

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 1 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Homily – Feast of St. Matthew – Fr. James Conner

Feast of St Matthew – September 21

Fr. James Conner

Today we celebrate the memory of St Matthew, the author of the first gospel. He tells us today the story of his own conversion. He was a tax collector. Jesus passed by his place of business and said to him: “Follow Me!”. Matthew looked down at his money. Spread out before him, and seemed to hesitate before leaving this means of security. But finally he left that security for a life of insecurity.

Every Christian is called by Jesus Christ to follow Him. Some are called to totally leave the securities of this world and follow Him in the call of the monastic life. But some are also called to follow Him by a different path – still one of total trust in Him, but a trust that calls one to manage the goods of this world rather than to renounce them.  This is the path of the Lay Cistercians. You are called to remain in the world and provide for yourself and your family, but beyond that, to be conscious of the needs of the poor of the world. St. Paul  reminds us: “What have you that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you act as if it were your own?”

Part of the reason why the tax collectors were so hated by the people of that time is the fact that they not only collected the taxes of the Roman occupiers of the land, but frequently also took more than necessary for their own selves. They were acting as if the very people whom they were called to serve were actually servants of their own.

In other words, they were acting with injustice rather than mercy. And Jesus ends the gospel by telling us that God says: “What I desire is mercy and not sacrifice.” This showing of mercy begins with our own home and family, but must extend beyond that to our places of work and service.

Might there be a danger for each one to treat even their own family and relations as if they were simply their own? On the contrary, Jesus tells us that we are all called to be servants of one another, just as He came as a servant of all. We are to provide not only for our selves and those closest to us, but for all who are in need and who come within our lives.

Our nation today is threatened by a spirit of individualism – caring for myself first. But Jesus calls us on another path – the path of the Son of Man and the path of those called to follow Him. “I came not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life for the sake of all”.

Being called to be a Lay Cistercian entails more than simply coming to the monastery a couple of times a year. It entails following Jesus Christ every day of the year, every moment of our lives, in seeking not what is for my own good, but what is for the good of all. Truly, as St Benedict says: “To prefer NOTHING to Christ”. On this way we are all called to follow Him = both those of us who are called to life within the monastery and those of you who are called to build your own monastery within the world. On this way we are all called to truly follow Christ in His mission to love and serve all.

 

Homily 8/31/19 – Fr. Seamus – Humilty

Today marks the beginning of the fifth observation of the annual Season of Creation – from Sept.1 until Oct 4, the feast of St Francis of Assisi. This year’s Season of Creation is spotlighting threats to our biodiversity and focusing on “protecting the web of life in all its variety, because each species reveals the glory of the creator.” In a recent interview, Pope Francis called the loss of biodiversity among his greatest fears for the planet, saying, “devastation of nature can lead to the death of humanity.” To respond to Pope Francis’ words is not easy. Taking care of our planet, our “common home” – which is God’s gift to us, is a huge undertaking. This is a very humbling situation and well worth our attention. (ncronline … )

As we heard in today’s readings, “Humility and self-knowledge go hand in hand. Those who conduct their affairs with humility (1) shall be exalted, while those who exalt themselves shall be humbled (3). The humble shall rejoice and exalt before God (Ps) in the assembly of the heavenly Jerusalem (2).” – (ORDO)

These readings point us to our Holy Rule. St Benedict’s chapters on the steps of humility and the expressions of good zeal (RB 7 and 72) are rightly considered to be the heart of the Rule, the quintessence of its spiritual teaching. It is the main area of spiritual discipline which Benedictine life offers as a way to God. It is the heart of Benedictine and Cistercian spirituality.

It’s worth mentioning that it is important for all of us here this morning to see that the fundamental purpose of any monk (or nun’s) life is not essentially different from that of any Christian. On the contrary, we – that is – all of us, nuns and monks, lay women and lay men, by discovering the interior attractions and instincts written by grace in our inner heart, we all touch the heart of Christ, we become capable of reaching the inner heart of those in our community. Growth in the spiritual life is often experienced as a return to this center, to one’s truest self.

Benedictine and Cistercian humility is not a secondary Christian virtue, not simply a part of the virtue of temperance. It is more like a dynamic union of faith, hope and love that could be described as a loving trust rooted in the truth. Its source is the heart of Christ, who said, “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt 11:29) It is humility that can and should guide us in this return journey, uncovering the false instincts in the human heart and finding the truth written there by grace. Humility unveils the true self, what the New Testament describes as “the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.” (RB 5; 7, 19-41)

The inner paradox of humility is the heart of the Paschal MysteryIt is the paradox of the Gospel itselfloss and gain of self, death and resurrection, “the last shall be first,” Mt 19:30; 20:16; Mk 10:30) “the one who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Lk 14:11; 18:14; RB 7,1)

Humility is not merely a psychological act of the intellect and will, but above all, it is a movement of the Spirit. The Spirit of God centers both the soul and the body on the humble Christ, so that the inward movement of humility is not a matter of hiding within ourselves, but rather a liberation of what is truest and most permanent in us from what is passing and superficial. Eventually, as we become fully aware of our sins, we cry out with St Paul, “Miserable one that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24) Monastic tradition replies with conviction, “The humble Christ!” (cf. Centered on Christ, 2005, Augustine Roberts, OCSO)

Humility is recognizing that every good in ourselves is a gift from God and is meant to be given back to the Lord by being shared with others. Everyone who enters a community brings with him a gift that the community needs; everyone who enters a community receives a gift that he needs from that community. The development of nations, the preservation of our planet and the achievement of human community may well depend on humility.” (The Rule of Benedict, Joan Chittister, OSB, p. 74) _________________END

 

Homily – Mary and Martha – July 21, 2019

The Gospel Luke 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village

where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.

She had a sister named Mary

who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,

“Lord, do you not care

that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?

Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply,

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.

There is need of only one thing.

Mary has chosen the better part

and it will not be taken from her.”

 

After the Gospel:

Most artists  put Jesus … center of the painting … seated,  one hand raised in teaching … 

in the background:  Martha … both hands carrying a jug or basket.

in the foreground:  Mary … sitting on the floor, hands folded on her lap, perfectly still.

Sometimes they add:  disciples … Jesus didn’t travel alone.  How many dropped in with Him  may help explain Martha’s predicament.

 

When you hear the story, do you take sides?

Hooray,  Mary, true contemplative!

Way to go, Martha, woman who gets things done…  the world needs more like you!

 

Do you hear Jesus’ words to Martha … as rebuke ….    or invitation …or both??

 

Do you pick up on Martha’s irritation … tension?

           Resentment of her sister for leaving her  all the work?

                    Angry enough,  she can’t even talk to her sister directly.

Does she breach hospitality…          

                   by embarrassing her sister in front of a guest,

                             asking her guest to intervene in a family dispute,

                                      even accusing her guest of not caring!??

 

Does she miss out on true hospitality by driving a wedge between her sister and herself,

between Jesus and herself?

 

Do you agree with the writer who says: Martha may have been lonely. 

Her busyness covered up  how lonely she was …  She only knew how busy she was.

She couldn’t see anger and resentment inside her. 

Poor Martha …  More ways than one  she missed out on the “one thing needed.”

 

Did you notice how Luke left the story open-ended?  We don’t know what happened next —

how  Mary and Martha reconciled,

whether they were   all      able to enjoy the meal Martha prepared, 

whether Martha was finally able to sit down and give full attention to Jesus.

 

Most important,  do you think of monastic life, built on a tripod –

          three legs:  prayer, work,  lectio divina … 

How our personal stability as a monk depends on this triple foundation,

how you can’t build up monastic life on just one or two of the legs, it has to be all three … equal…

Prayer, work,  lectio divina … Or things get a little wobbly.

 

Martha is exactly what monks  try NOT to be….

It’s not her serving …  that’s part of hospitality,

Homily for the Feast of St. Benedict – Fr. Michael Casagram- “Called to Serve” – 7/11/19

+CALLED TO SERVE                                                           St Benedict, 2019

The last words of our gospel this morning, seem to me a wonderful summary of the life and Rule of St Benedict. Jesus saying: “I am among you as one who serves” describes the kind of person Benedict sought to be his whole life and the kind of community he hoped to realize through his Rule.

In this month’s issue of Give Us This Day, Robert Ellsberg in his short life of Benedict, tells us that “in place of an emphasis on fasting and mortification, Benedict substituted the discipline of humility, obedience, and accommodation to community life. Rather than envisioning a collection of individuals competing in the quest for perfection, Benedict stressed the role of community as a school of holiness.” Our gospel guides us toward a similar understanding of the Church when Jesus tell his disciples to “let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” When one sees competing forces arise within the Church, one does well to question the origin of such voices.

And our gospel is not without humor today, it seems to me, when Jesus tells his disciples: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’: but among you it shall not be so.” Jesus flips the whole social system of his day and ours, showing us that what truly builds an authentic society is not power, but service.

Jesus and his faithful disciple Benedict are inviting each of us to open ourselves to God’s loving presence so that it pervades the whole of our personal and communal lives. St Paul envisages as much in the selection of his letter to the Ephesians we just heard. For the Ephesians to be worthy of the calling they have received, they must do so with all humility and gentleness, patiently bearing with one another through love. Only then will they “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace.” Our religious communities, our Church, our society has never been in such need of this “patiently bearing with one another through love” for then the transforming work of God is able to act freely. The talents of each are put to use for the good of all.

Going through St Gregory’s Dialogues, his Life of St Benedict, I was captivated by his words that: “Blessed Benedict possessed the Spirit of only one Person, the Saviour who fills the hearts of all the faithful by granting them the fruits of His Redemption.” As Benedict became more attentive to God’s presence within and all around him, everything he did began to reflect the work of God. The prayer that he and his monks carried out during the Divine Office spread through the whole of their day.

By turning our ears to wisdom, inclining our hearts to understanding, as the Book of Proverbs suggests, our lives become fully attuned to the working of divine grace. Wisdom enters our hearts and a knowledge that pleases the soul. The Rule of Benedict is known for its discretion, so much so that many have believed this to be just the reason for its long and pervasive influence. It is a wonderful reflection of his own inner growth.

The role of the Eucharist in Benedict’s time seems to have been less central than for us today. This is probably so because the whole of their day was Eucharistic, an invitation to allow Christ’s presence to feed them all day long. Through our reception of the Eucharist, the consecrated Bread and Wine, we are made sharers in God’s own life. We experience the initiating love of Christ for each of us. Benedict assures us that as we progress in the monastic way of life and in faith, “we will run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”  Amen

Prov 2: 1-9; Eph 4: 1-6; Luke 22: 24-27

Homily – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. James Conner

The words of Jesus in today’s gospel might seem quite harsh at first sight: “If they do not accept you, go out into the streets and say: ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you’”. However in the context of the whole text and readings today, we see that it is done only as a last resort/

Jesus is primarily sending his disciples into towns to proclaim the message of God’s love and care for all peoples. The primary word that He wants them to proclaim is: “Peace to this house!” It is a peace which only God ca give, but a peace which is promised by all the prophets for the mission of the one sent by God.

Jesus comes among us as the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of one who will be Prince of Peace. He comes to proclaim peace which comes from God’s loving care for each one of His children. Isaiah compares the peaceful person to a child on its mother’s breast. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you”. That child is each one to whom the Word of God is proclaimed. It is each one of us who have received this message that God will care for us as a mother cares for her infant.

But we don’t like to consider ourselves as infants. We want to see ourselves as self-reliant and competent to take care of ourselves and our world. We all too often act as if we did not need God’s help and protection.

But Paul tells us in the second reading that “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world”. The world that must be crucified to each one of us is the world of deceit and selfishness – a world of power and prestige. But by that very fact it is a world of lies. Jesus calls Satan the “father of lies”. The lies which Satan sows in the world and in our hearts is the lie of self-sufficiency – “I do not truly need God – I can care for myself and my world!”

It is such lies which lie at the root of all the evil and deceit in the world today. All too often, even leaders of nations are known more for their lies than for fostering truth. Such actions only sow dissent and division within a nation and in the hearts of those who follow him. It serves to divide the nation from other nations and even beget division within the nation itself. And Jesus said also: “A house that is divided cannot stand”.

In contrast to this, Jesus sends his disciples – he sends each one of us – to spread the true message of God’s love and care for every person. We may object to world leaders sowing dissent and division, but do the very same thing in our dealings with one another in daily life.

Each time that we encounter another person, it should embody the message: “Peace to you!”. The Christian should be a person of peace. Above all, the monk should be a man of peace – peace within himself and peace with others with whom he lives. The injunction of Jesus does not extend merely to mssionaries. It extends to each one of us – whether in the monastery or in our homes and places of work.

That is why we express the sharing of Peace before receiving the Prince of Peace within Communion. That brief moment cannot be simply a distraction from the Eucharist – but a call to each one of us to heed the message of Jesus and truly live as men and women of peace, knowing that our names are truly written in heaven.

The words of Jesus in today’s gospel might seem quite harsh at first sight: “If they do not accept you, go out into the streets and say: ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you’”. However in the context of the whole text and readings today, we see that it is done only as a last resort.

Jesus is primarily sending his disciples into towns to proclaim the message of God’s love and care for all peoples. The primary word that He wants them to proclaim is: “Peace to this house!” It is a peace which only God ca give, but a peace which is promised by all the prophets for the mission of the one sent by God.

Jesus comes among us as the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of one who will be Prince of Peace. He comes to proclaim peace which comes from God’s loving care for each one of His children. Isaiah compares the peaceful person to a child on its mother’s breast. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you”. That child is each one to whom the Word of God is proclaimed. It is each one of us who have received this message that God will care for us as a mother cares for her infant.

But we don’t like to consider ourselves as infants. We want to see ourselves as self-reliant and competent to take care of ourselves and our world. We all too often act as if we did not need God’s help and protection.

But Paul tells us in the second reading that “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world”. The world that must be crucified to each one of us is the world of deceit and selfishness – a world of power and prestige. But by that very fact it is a world of lies. Jesus calls Satan the “father of lies”. The lies which Satan sows in the world and in our hearts is the lie of self-sufficiency – “I do not truly need God – I can care for myself and my world!”

It is such lies which lie at the root of all the evil and deceit in the world today. All too often, even leaders of nations are known more for their lies than for fostering truth. Such actions only sow dissent and division within a nation and in the hearts of those who follow him. It serves to divide the nation from other nations and even beget division within the nation itself. And Jesus said also: “A house that is divided cannot stand”.

In contrast to this, Jesus sends his disciples – he sends each one of us – to spread the true message of God’s love and care for every person. We may object to world leaders sowing dissent and division, but do the very same thing in our dealings with one another in daily life.

Each time that we encounter another person, it should embodythe message: “Peace to you!”. The Christian should be a person of peace. Above all, the monk should be a man of peace – peace within himself and peace with others with whom he lives. The injunction of Jesus does not extend merely to mssionaries. It extends to each one of us – whether in the monastery or in our homes and places of work.

That is why we express the sharing of Peace before receiving the Prince of Peace within Communion. That brief moment cannot be simply a distraction from the Eucharist – but a call to each one of us to heed the message of Jesus and truly live as men and women of peace, knowing that our names are truly written in heaven.