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 MONTHLY SUNDAY COMPLINE
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)
• Compline – together we pray the Office with the Monks of Gethsemani using the Abbey video
• Depart to personal “grand silence” for the night.
ON YOUR COMPUTER (or phone), CLICK THE MEETING IDENTIFIER: within seconds you will join.
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/213642756
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +14086380968,,213642756# or +16468769923,,213642756#
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=Q7m9u6_a0u8r26fjTHRGUP_UHk77lBMH
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.
+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.
+MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS 25TH Sunday (A) 2017
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