Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram – 1/22/23

Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram – 1/22/23


These words of St Paul in our second reading this morning seem to me especially relevant during this time of prayer for Church unity and the community’s retreat. They also provide an excellent description of the kind of community life that will draw new members who may want to share our calling.

Our gospel this morning has Jesus, soon after the arrest of John the Baptist, going to Capernaum where he began his ministry. There he calls his first disciples to follow him in a whole new way of life. Let me touch on St Paul’s words to the Corinthians and show how these pave the way for Christians and monks to attract many followers to know the goodness of God.

There are a lot of divisions within the Catholic Church today so that when Paul writes to the Corinthians that he heard there are rivalries among them, this is not at all foreign to our experience. Each of them saying: “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephus,” or “I belong to Christ” sounds all too familiar within the Catholic communities of today. There is even talk of a schism within the Church. Groups within a community can all too easily claim allegiance to various individuals. It is to be expected that people of a common way of thinking “join together and claim the leadership of a prominent person.” This happens among “religious or political leaders, sports figures or entertainers, and we know how avid such supporters can become.” The danger is that it ends up in rivalries and divisions within the Church and society. St Paul simply reminds us that nothing is to stand in the way of our allegiance to Christ, to the mystery of the cross where love is the true source of human growth.

When this commitment to the Lord Jesus is evident in a community, then the life of the Holy Spirit is easily experienced by whoever may rub shoulders with it. Galilee is said to have been the perfect place for Jesus  to begin his ministry. It was at the crossroads of the world of his time as international trade routes passed through the area. Here is where he called his first disciples. It does not take long in a monastic community to realize the wide variety of background and family formation of those with whom we live. It is precisely out of this wide variety that each of us has been called. And I think this is not only true of monks but of the life of every Christian. The call to holiness is unique for all of us, something very personal. If it finds a healthy context in which to be heard and felt, the person thrives.

The Abbot General of our Order, Dom Bernardus, is with us this morning and will be directing the monks’ retreat. He recently reminded the monks and nuns in a circular letter to the Order that our monastic calling is a gift, it touches our very being, our very core so that all that we do, is to flow from this inner experience. When we experience our vocation on this level as a gift, everything changes. Our lives become “an ongoing process that takes place repeatedly” for otherwise we stop listening to God’s call.

Isn’t the Eucharist designed to ground each one of us gathered here in this sense of Christ’s loving initiative in each of our lives. Here is made present the very death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus out of love for us. This divine initiative assures us that Jesus is ever near at hand, leading us into the fullness of life.  Amen

(Isa 8:23-9:3; 1 Cor. 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4:12-23)