Fr. Thomas Leitner, Administrator of the St. Benedict Center, celebrated Holy Mass this morning. The Notre Dame Sisters of Omaha were among the guests who shared in this Eucharist. Fr. Thomas' Homily is below:
Fr. Volker shared his thoughts during the homily today:
Mk 14:12-16, 22-26 Ex 24:3-8 Heb 9:11-15
focus: We are called to give up ourselves for others in imitation of Christ.
function: Our promise is freedom and life in fullness.
Dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,
“The body of Christ. Amen. The blood of Christ. Amen.” When we celebrate Mass, these words are being spoken over and over again. They are like a litany. They give witness to Jesus’ complete gift of self to us and for us, but also to the self-surrender to which our Christian living calls us.
The Eucharist, we could say, is like a precious diamond at which a person can look from various sides; and it shines forth in ever new colors. The Eucharist was a meal and must be seen as an extension of the many meals that Jesus shared with people, rich and poor, respected and despised. He established communion with them all.
The Eucharist points us to and is a foretaste of that great banquet to which we hope to be invited one day in heaven. Today’s readings speak to us about the Eucharist as sacrifice.
Our first reading tells about the holocausts that were offered as Moses had received the Law, God’s order of life for God’s people, on Mt. Sinai. Moses splashed the blood of the sacrificial animals on the altar and sprinkled it over the people. A covenant was sealed in which the people promised to God, who had set them free from slavery: “All that the Lord has told us we will heed and do.”
Today’s gospel presents us with the institution of the Eucharist. Jesus is going to give his body and pour out his blood for many, for all humankind. Bread and wine will forever be sacramental signs of God’s new covenant of unconditional love with the people sealed by Jesus.
The letter to the Hebrews, finally, carefully explains how the self-sacrifice of Jesus, surpasses and takes the place of all previous animal sacrifices.
God who is love did not need a sacrifice of something in order to become merciful toward humanity. Rather, Jesus laid down his life on his own accord and so gave witness to his message about the God of love. Pope Benedict pointed out in his 1st encyclical that Jesus himself became the shepherd seeking the lost sheep—and paid with his life for it.
The Eucharist is a memorial of Jesus’ Last Supper and makes it present for us. The Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” Pope John Paul once said. “This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith,” he continued, “but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church.
In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfillment of the promise, “Lo I am with you always to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20), but in the Holy Eucharist through the changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity. Ever since Pentecost, when the Church, the pilgrim church of the New Covenant, began her pilgrim journey toward her heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of her days, filling them with confident hope.
Dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, we are called to give up ourselves for others in imitation of Christ. Our promise is freedom and life in fullness.
What are ways in which we give to others, not only something, not only words, not only gifts, but ourselves, our body and blood, our whole person? What is the new life that we experience as fruit of this self-surrender?
Are we aware of any “dead works,” as the Letter to the Hebrews puts it, that keep us from imitating Christ and from which we need to be cleansed?
Let us take today’s feast as an occasion of marveling about Jesus’ loving self-surrender and about his abiding presence in the Eucharist. St. Thomas Aquinas’ prayer words can become ours:
“Godhead here in hiding whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.”
Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB
Our Prior, Fr. Joel Macul shares his homily for Trinity Sunday:
Deuteronomy 4:32–34, 39–40
Trinity Sunday is about mystery, the mystery of our God, the God of us Christians. Trinity Sunday is not really a celebration of a dogma or doctrine or the Church’s teaching. Dogma is a statement, a distilled statement of the content of belief. One studies a statement to find out its meaning. But behind the dogma is a mystery. That is what our gathering here today is about. We are about acknowledging and celebrating the living God as community, as community of persons. That community of persons that is our God is what we are remembering and celebrating today. However, if we take the word that we have heard this morning seriously then we cannot speak and hence cannot celebrate the mystery of our God as communion without at the same time acknowledging that we are also a community with that God. The story, the tale of God as community, as Trinity, is a story that includes us as part of that community. The story of Trinity, the story of the community of Father, Son and Spirit is a story of love that reaches us and includes us. The experience of our God is an experience of God bringing us into that communion and making us a people with him. If we profess God as Trinity, as a community of persons, we are also professing ourselves as having a share in that communion, in that life, in that love.
The gift of today’s feast is clear. God is all about relationship, about community. God is one in being together. God is all about relationships. To profess God as Father, Son and Spirit is to profess God as essentially relational. When this God touches the human story, God will touch it as community. When God touches humanity, then he reveals himself as an open community. God will slowly draw humanity into his own community. If God is fundamentally relational, and that is what belief in the Trinity means, then God will bring humanity into that relationship.
Each reading today makes it very clear that God is about making relationships happen between him and humanity and among members of humanity. Moses reminds Israel that the wonderful events of the Exodus are people forming events. God is making a nation for himself out of these people. It is unheard of that a god should set about making a nation, a community for himself out of human beings. But our God is a people- forming God. He does it by fighting on our behalf, by liberating us, by speaking to us directly, by giving us his word. What is unique about our God? He stands with us, shapes us into community and then guides our frail human condition to its ultimate communion with him. Trinity means involvement, commitment, covenant.
Paul explains how God builds on this first people-making event of Exodus and Sinai. God moves to a more intimate level than just a nation or a people. God moves toward the intimate relation of son and daughter. Now the relation is one of kin, or sharing a likeness. We have become relatives of God. This happens through God’s own Son, Christ. It happens through Jesus our brother. When we join him in his self-emptying on the cross, then we will share in the life of our brother Jesus. The mystery now is that God chooses to become human. When God becomes human, we who are human are now open to sharing in the heart of God himself. Paul calls it adoption as children of God. In the Spirit of adoption, we are now able to actually say who God. We find our voice and say, “Abba, Father.” This word given us by the Spirit expresses the intimacy and familiarity that is ours with God. God has made us his kin, his relatives.
Where does involvement in this relationship with a relational God begin for you and me? It begins at baptism. We are accustomed to receiving a new name at baptism: a saint or the name of an ancestor. What we often forget is that the name we actually receive is the name of our God. Baptize them, says Jesus, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are baptized into a communion of persons; we are baptized into a relationship of love and creativity; we are baptized into something alive and active. We are baptized into the mystery of God. We are baptized in the name of Father, Son and Spirit. This is our identity; this is the source of our very life.
Those of us who have been given this identity also receive a task, a mission. We are to live our discipleship with Jesus in such a way that all humanity will be drawn into the mystery of the relationships in God. Make disciples of all nations—the Trinity is open and all embracing. Social and cultural boundaries are dissolved. Nationality, ethnicity and gender are not the defining identity. Plunged in baptism into the Triune God, that God and living with that God becomes our identity.
The wonder and mystery of the Trinity is that now we are not only God’s very own children but that we can and must live with others in such a way that they will recognize that they too are brothers and sisters of Jesus and ultimately children of God.
Joel Macul, OSB
It looks like the Easter season ends with Pentecost, with the coming of the Spirit in the great drama of wind and fire and tongues. But the Spirit is not the end of Easter, it’s beginning. When John tells the Easter story, we find Jesus walking into a room with the doors closed and an atmosphere of fear paralyzing his followers. He tries to console them with the greeting of peace. But then he must use more than his words, he must breathe on them, that which keeps him alive.
They are like dead people, frozen, in shock. The only way forward is to share his breath. He must repeat the creative act that brought humanity into being. Indeed, he is creating a new community and new humanity. This time its stance is not one of fear, of being closed off, of having to hide. With Jesus’ breath flowing through it, humanity can become human again; it can breathe, it can find life. It can be about restoring relationships of all kind. Yes, the breath Jesus breathes on us is one that loosens us to forgiveness and love. When that happens, the Spirit is known, Pentecost is alive and well; it is the beginning of a new life. The Spirit is not the end of the story; it is the door to a whole new way for us, for our Church, for our world.
– Fr. Joel Macul, O.S.B –
Fr. Thomas Leitner shared his thoughts at Holy Mass this morning. A video is below.
The famous 19th century evangelist Dwight L. Moody was a pastor in Chicago; there is still a Bible Institute there that bears his name. Mr. Moody was a successful minister.
One day though two women came up to him after a service. "We have been praying for you for an anointing by the Holy Spirit,” they said. “You need the power of the Spirit." Moody wasn’t immediately open to the women’s comment. "I thought I had power,” he said, remembering the incident. “I had the largest congregation in Chicago, and there were many conversions!" Yet the encounter came back to his mind time and again. "There came a great hunger in my soul,” he recalls. “I did not know what it was and I began to cry out to God as never before. I felt I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service."
Rev. Moody began crying out for God to fill him. He withdrew, and remained in that state of fervent prayer for some time. He writes: "Well, one day, in the city of New York -- oh, what a day! -- I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went on preaching. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world."
Today’s gospel is a prayer of Jesus for his disciples and—as the verse immediately following today’s passage says—also for those who believe in him through their word. He prays that they may have what he has with his heavenly Father: unity. In prayer form, Jesus touches again on what he had said earlier in these Farewell Discourses, namely that it’s necessary for believers to keep his word and command and to remain in his love.
Only a branch that is connected to the vine can bear fruit. If it’s cut off, it will wither and die. He prays that God may keep them, who will continue to live in this world, from the power of the evil one.
In this prayer a person can feel the anguish, love and concern that Jesus has for his disciples. He knows that if they live the way he lives and speak the same words of truth that he spoke, they will experience opposition. The world will hate them, too. But he trusts that they will take up his mission.
Today’s first reading tells us about the days before the first Pentecost. The apostles, Mary and some other disciples spend most of this time in the upper room in prayer, waiting for “the promise of the Father,” for the coming down upon them of the Holy Spirit with its power.
As we just heard, Peter announced during these days to a larger group of disciples that it’s necessary for Judas to be replaced as one of the Twelve. Why is this necessary? The number 12 is symbolic. The twelve apostles represent the twelve tribes of God’s original people. With the apostles as the core, the risen Jesus wants to establish God’s new people all-over the world by sending his disciples to give witness to him: in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, Jesus desires also our unity and our deep connectedness with him. Through his Holy Spirit, he empowers and enables us to be his witnesses. So many things appear to be impossible or nearly impossible, humanly speaking:
· unity of Christians in spite of and in the midst of all the variety;
· unity even within the Church;
· standing up for gospel values in a secularized society
For example: for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, for the Christian family, for freedom of conscience, and for the rights and needs of refugees and immigrants. All this is not easy and cannot be achieved by human strength alone.
The nine days between Ascension and Pentecost are a time of waiting and praying fervently for the Holy Spirit, whom Christ has sent and sends to us ever anew, the Holy Spirit who heals our wounds, renews our strength, washed the stain of guilt away, melts the frozen, warms the chill and guides the steps that go astray.
We need D. L. Moody’s hunger in our souls for the anointing of the Holy Spirit and its transforming power in us. Let’s pray today and throughout this coming week, for ourselves, for our monastic community, for our families and friends, for our work places, for our church, for our society and for our world—that God may bring about a new Pentecost. AMEN.
Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB
Our Prior, Fr. Joel Macul celebrated Holy Mass on Ascension Thursday. He shared these words for his homily:
Mark 16: 15–20
Today’s celebration is more than remembering another episode in the life of Jesus. Rather it is intrinsically connected with the resurrection, as is also Pentecost. Both of these feasts are part of the multi-faceted jewel that is Easter. To be understood both of them must remain in the jewel that is the resurrection.
Ascension breaks open a number of elements about Jesus. For one thing it makes clear that Jesus’ proper place is with the Father. This is given in the simple creedal phrase that he took his seat at the right hand of the Father. Any activity of Jesus comes from that relationship. At the same time, there is an element of kingship, of rule in relation to the created world. Jesus position is one of having conquered the evil that seems to run the world. His victory is proclaimed as definitive. He is pictured as above all.
There is universality in today’s feast. The universality of the resurrection is such that the risen Jesus now fills all things. Today Jesus comes to full stature. He is the ground of all that is whether of the human world or of dust of this planet or the stars. Jesus is in relation to it all. Today we acknowledge the cosmic dimension of the resurrection. The presence of the risen Jesus touches all created matter and fills it with potential. Jesus cannot limit himself to one place and one time; his very nature demands he be present to all places and all times. His ascension guarantees that.
There is a paradox in today’s feast of the ascension. On Easter we heard the angel at the tomb say, he is risen, he is not here! He is not here. When Jesus’ ascends and the disciples no longer see him, it is true: He is not here. And yet each time the story of his ascension is related, it also relates how he is still present. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is sitting with the Father and yet he is also confirming the work of the disciples as they go about proclaiming the good news. He is both with the Father and with us. He is leaving us today, but yet he is not leaving us.
Today’s celebration is about a new communion that now exists between the Father, Jesus and ourselves. There is an absence on the one hand and a form of presence on the other. That presence begins to work in our lives, the gospel says, when we are baptized. We enter into the mystery of Jesus and so experience a transformation in our lives. We enter his dying and rising and so can offer to the world a new form of presence, a presence that will make us sharers in the transformative power of Jesus love and victory over everything evil. It is symbolized in holding snakes and drinking poison.
If we do not let Jesus go to the Father, if like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, we want to cling to him and hold him here, then he will slip from our hands and we will be holding nothing. But if today, we rejoice that he goes to the Father, then we can hold everything, then we too can become mature and reach the fullness of our lives.
Joel Macul OSB
The Priceless Human Gift.....friendship!
The Homily for today- by Fr. Joel Macul
Acts 10: 25–26, 34–35, 44–48
1 John 4:7–10
One of the most priceless human gifts is friendship. It allows us to disclose ourselves to and receive from another in complete openness and trust. We can think aloud before a friend; with a friend we can participate in one another’s joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. A friend allows us to survive loneliness, indifference, hostility. Before a friend we can make a mistake and not be shamed; we can be accepted for who we are. With a friend we can always be beautiful in our inner core. With a friend in good times and bad the friend is there.
Today Jesus invokes this precious relationship between human beings. He draws on the wisdom tradition that sings the praises of a true friend. He stands in the tradition that recognized in Abraham and Moses men who were friends of God—two who walked with God, who spoke with God as one speaks with a friend. Today we hear Jesus name his disciples “my friends.” A clear hint at how he related to his disciples—not servants but friends with whom he could share everything.
In John’s gospel we have been introduced to friends of Jesus along the way. John the Baptist is the called “the friend of the bridegroom.” Then there is the family at Bethany, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Jesus did more than pass by for the occasional meal. No, they were the friends of Jesus—he could banter with them, and for Lazarus, he would weep and then call him forth from the grave because that is what a friend does, stands with the other in death and calls them forth again into the light and lets them go free.
At the heart of friendship is love. Today we hear Jesus wanting to draw his disciples into his experience of love. He wants to give them his gift of love. He wants to draw them into a circle of friendship, a circle of love. In friendship, the focus is on the other, not to get something from them not to receive from them, but to give to them, to be for them. For Jesus, loving begins with the Father. He says it over and over: I remain in my Father’s love. The Father loves me and so I am not alone even if it looks like I am alone.
How does Jesus know he is in the Father’s love? Because he keeps the Father’s commandment to love. And that commandment is that Jesus is the one Father sends into the world so that the world may have life to the full. God loved the world so much, he sent his only Son. God loved the world so he sent his most precious and only relationship into the world. Jesus obeys the Father’s desire to send his love into the world and give it a human face. Jesus obeys the Father’s will that sends him into the world to love the world, to give his very flesh for the life of the world.
There are two qualities to this loving way of Jesus and the Father. One is that love lays down its life for its friends. Jesus will lay down his life for his disciple-friends. He will hold nothing back for them. He will love them to the end,, love them to death. The other quality is a hallmark of friendship: friends share their thoughts and heart with one another. So Jesus shares the Father’s love with his disciples. Jesus keeps no secret. What the Father has told Jesus when he was in his bosom, he has shared with his disciples. What good works Jesus has done come from his Father and have been done in front of his disciples. What they see and hear in and from Jesus is in reality what and who the Father is. The loving that has been going on between Jesus and the Father, Jesus is now sharing with his befriended disciples. Jesus cannot keep it to himself. The love he knows has become his commandment, his motivation, what moves him to act and so he must love his own in this world. He knows the Father’s love and so he must love.
If Jesus is to love completely and be the Father’s love in the world, then he must die for the ones he and the Father love. He must lay down his life for his friends. His love must be total, no holding back. So Jesus comes to understand that his dying is in reality not an empty death; he is not just another victim unjustly caught in the web of violence. No, his dying is a choice; I choose to lay down my life, he says. My love is freely given, not pulled out of me. God is love we heard in John’s first letter. If God is love, then he chooses to love in and through his Son. And his Son chooses to love by embracing a death that is violent, unjust and humanly cruel. God’s love is revealed by sending his Son to embrace our world of sin. In embracing it, his love breaks its power and releases us from sin’s claim on us. Only a love that will join us in death is a love that can gift us with freedom. We usually hold back when we love, we keep something for ourselves. Not Jesus with us his friends; he walks with us all the way.
There is a chain of love being proclaimed today. It is being proclaimed as the heart and mystery of the one we so easily call God and whom Jesus called Father because all he is comes from him. The chain of love begins with the Father whose name we heard is love. This love is poured into the Son who activates it and makes it real before our very eyes by laying down his life for those from whom life has slipped away. But before Jesus enters into this laying down of his life on the cross, he shares that mystery of love with his new friends. He calls his disciples into that circle of love since they are the ones he is dying for. For you I am dying, he says; receive this love as new life. If you accept my love for you, then you will know that you too must love the same way. My loving you unto death becomes a command for you to do the same for one another. What Jesus commands us to do is what we saw on Holy Thursday. He, the master, washed our feet. Oh yes, we protested…..we did want him to touch our feet. Accepting love is hard. But if we will not let him wash our feet, if we will not accept his dying for us, then we have no part with him. Obeying the command to love begins by accepting love.
Jesus is talking to us today. He says, I learned loving from my father; it means dying for those he and I love; now you learn loving from me and exercise that love toward one another. Dying means giving all to the very end. Now each of you must give your all for one another. When others see that way of giving all to one another, without limit, then will the face of the Father, the God of love, be alive in his world. Then will the chain of love become the thread that binds all together. Then will the divisions and boundaries in this world break down; then will heaven and earth not be strangers to one another but be friends who know what it is to be loved and so love without bounds and follow the lead of the Spirit who holds all things in One. God’s love is without limit, it embraces all. His command to us: grounded in that limitless love we do the same.
"3 Peas in a Pod" Today's homily was given by Fr. Thomas Hillenbrand
Fr. Volker celebrated Holy Mass on Good Shepherd Sunday. A video of his homily is below:
Fr. Thomas Hillenbrand gave insight to the readings from Mass this morning. Here is a video of his homily:
The Passion was sung by Fr. Joel Macul, Fr. Thomas Leitner and Bro. Tobias Dammert during the Good Friday services. Enjoy the video below:
Did you ever want to be there when it all began? Did you ever want to witness that moment when light first shattered darkness? Well tonight we are there. We are at the beginning of this created world that God saw was good. Did you ever want to be present when human beings were created? Well tonight you and I have seen the birth of humanity. We have witnessed our pristine innocence. Tonight we emerge from the dust truly his image and likeness, male and female together. Did you ever wonder what it was like to stand at the moment when a people, a nation was formed? Tonight you and I have been with Abraham, Moses and the prophets as God made and remade his people. Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a slave, oppressed, convicted and have no hope of ever going free? Well tonight the sea has opened and we are a free people. Tonight we have crossed the waters and have passed through safely. Have you ever been a refugee or an exile, living away from home, and wondered if you would ever see home again, if you would ever be connected with all that gave you birth, nourished you and fed you? Well, tonight you and I have heard the good news, and we are on our way back to our own land.
Have you ever been separated from a spouse, a loved one? Have you ever been at a stand off in your relationships an heard the pleading cry, “I still love you”? Well tonight is our wedding night. The one who made us is marrying us. The relationship has endured the test and now it is the time for making love again. Have you ever wondered whether there is a love that is so strong that despite all our wanderings, despite our infidelities, the promise and the commitment is not broken? Well during this night forgiveness was sent into our midst and a bond of peace has been made that can never be broken. All our debts have been canceled and we are as we were on that first day of life, of relationship to God and his son. Tonight we experience unconditional love beyond our imagination.
Tonight we are really at the beginning of creation; we are being born anew. During this night we have become a people bound together by Word and Love; during this night we are touching again the mystery of life in all its fullness. We are proclaiming this life in the face of insurmountable odds. We gathered in the dark, so we thought, but what really kept us together was not the dark night but the light—That attracted. Our first proclamation: The darkness of sin cannot overcome life. Light will win in the end. Light leads us; Christ our Light guides us. The light is not swallowed up by the dark!
As we pass this night together the intensity of this victory over every force of darkness and evil grows and grows. It grows until we hear a young man tell three women: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” You entered the house of death looking for the dead, but the dead is risen–alive. Death has been defeated. Leave your spices here and tell others that life goes before you. That is what you must seek.
Yes , death has been defeated; the death that surfaces every time we feel our bodies freeze and become rigid out of fear; the death that lurks behind every sense of being abandoned, left alone, far from what is familiar. That death dies tonight. It is the death that hides in political and economic systems that leave human beings without the food and drink the prophet says is free; the death that lies hidden in systems that do not call forth the image and likeness of men and women. Tonight is the death of anything that allows us to grow greater and fatter while somewhere among our fellow human beings some are getting weaker and smaller. There is the death tonight of anything in ourselves that says my race, my age, my sex, my nationality, my customs, my status is greater and better than yours. Tonight we are brought back to the beginning and we go forward from here with a new heart, a new spirit and hope.
Our proclamation that Christ is our Light, that Christ is risen, is a proclamation that we have passed over something. And that something is death, it is sin, it is evil, its darkness. This is the Passover of the Lord. He has passed over from the power of evil, into the power of goodness and peace. And the great wonder of it all is that you and I have been called to join the Lord in that passing over. That is what is hidden in the amazement of the women. “He goes before you” so you too can Passover from all that hinders and restricts the covenant of peace and do so without fear or anxiety over who shall roll back the stone, without wondering who can overcome the violence that leaves us hopeless?
Tonight we don’t just stand at the end of something at the end of a story; we are all standing the beginning of something. This night is to bring us back to our origins in the Creator God, in his son and in His life giving breath of the Holy Spirit. We can begin anew. That is the mystery of this night. We start as newborn, as newly created, clinging to the wisdom that will bring us to life eternal.
Do we shake our heads despondently as we look around us at all the evil and negativity in our world? Do we say inside, it is too much to begin? Then hear again the Lord in the prophet Isaias: “My word does not return to me empty. It will succeed in what it was sent to do.” God will win in the end. That is what we are saying today. God has won. The victory is his. And for those of us who are baptized into that victory, we cannot go back. We can only go forward. For Christ can never die again. Sin has no more power over him. All there is tonight is life in all its purity. Let us wash ourselves in it. And let us give thanks to the Father who will never let go of what is his from the beginning.
Christ is risen, alleluia.
He is truly risen, alleluia.
Prior, Fr. Joel Macul
Fr. Thomas Leitner shared his thoughts during the Good Friday Services. A video of his homily is below:
Fr. Tom Hillenbrand served as the celebrant of the Holy Mass of Palm Sunday this morning. Below is a video of his homily and photo slideshow.
Benedictine women and men around the world, and all who follow the Rule of Benedict, give thanks to God for the life of St. Benedict. On this day, March 21st, we observe the Transitus of St. Benedict - his entry into heaven.
The monks of Christ the King Priory extend prayerful good wishes to Oblates, friends, family and our fellow Benedictines.
"The hour has come, for the Son of Man to be Glorified"
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” We have heard about Jesus’ ‘hour’ from the beginning of John’s gospel. When his mother asked for his help at the wedding in Cana, he reminded her that his ‘hour had not yet come.’ Throughout the Jesus’ story in John, there was a similar refrain. Jesus was not speaking of ‘hour’ in clock time; he meant a decisive moment, a moment of in-break of grace in his life. He was referring to a moment, an event, that would be intimately connected with who he was, why he was here and hence who his Father is. It was not so much a moment he could write into his desk calendar because it would be initiated by his Father. We, too, have had our ‘hours’ when we faced a crisis, when a decision had to be made, when we were about to begin something new; perhaps it would be exciting but we did not know how. Perhaps it was a moment we dreaded. But those ‘hours’ reveal who we really are, where our priorities lie, in whom lies our strength.
Today Jesus announces that his hour has come, the hour that he has been living for. We know that hour as the hour of his suffering and death; to use John’s code word, the hour of ‘being lifted up.’ That is what Jesus says is now beginning. What triggers Jesus’ awareness that his hour has come, that the lifting up, the cross, is at hand? It is the request of some Greeks who want to see him. Jesus announces the ‘hour’ in response to the arrival of outside visitors who want to ‘see’ him. In a mysterious way, Jesus presence and life has stretched beyond Judea and Galilee and reached the world of the foreigner. The Gentile world is seeking Jesus. This movement of those from a distance seeking to see Jesus leads Jesus to announce what must be seen by them. And what must be seen by them is his being ‘lifted up.’ They must see his dying; if they see that and believe, then they will be his servants. Then they can be entrusted with the mission of inviting others to enter into Jesus’ life with the Father.
In the same breath that Jesus announces that his hour has come, he offers us the first image of that hour: a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying. And in that dying lies the key to producing much fruit. What Jesus wants the Greeks to see is a grain of wheat thrown on the earth to die and only in dying to bear new life. Just as Jesus announces that this image is a way of understanding his hour, so he is saying to those who come to see him, if you want to have a part with me, then dying must become your life.
Jesus uses a Semitic way of expressing it. Jesus talks of “hating” one’s life in the world to “preserve it for eternal life.” It is a way of saying that if you remain loyal to this world’s way of thinking and seeing (remember the Greeks wanted to ‘see’) then you are really choosing an alternative that will bear no fruit; it is a choice of death. But if you chose the dying model, like the grain, then life without end will come. The task for those who take seeing Jesus seriously will mean death in some form or other. Ours is not a culture that wants to look at death, not just physical death but all its other forms as well. But if you have invested your life in Jesus, then there is no other way. Dying covers all aspects of life in this world. There will be a death to self-preoccupation, death to our independence, death to wanting to see things my way and my way only, yes, and death to my so-called autonomy, doing it alone, death to my prejudices. In prophetic language, there has to be a death to my stubbornness and hard heart. That is what Jesus means by hating my life. Where is my loyalty? To myself or to others, to neighbor, to Jesus and the Father? To think that I can find life only in myself is an allusion; in sight terms, it is blindness; it is refusal to see. Those who follow Jesus are choosing to die in the everyday decisions we make to choose him, in being servants to him, to others and to the Father in heaven.
Falling into the ground and dying is not easy. Jesus goes on to acknowledge that his hour troubles him, causes him anxiety. He struggles with it. We hear him ask himself, “What should I say, Father, save me from this hour?” Jesus struggled with dying, with letting go of our human life. He wrestled with the thought of entering this dark world of death, of setting aside a false and illusory self. But he shares with us how he handled it. Very simply, he spoke to his Father about it.
The key to Jesus’ passage through this hour of dying and being lifted on the cross lies in the relationship he has with his Father. Notice that it is to his Father that he brings his question and struggle. The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of ‘loud cries and tears’ in praying to the Father. In the end, he moves to acceptance and says, ‘No, I will not ask to be saved from dying. I came precisely for dying.’ Only in his dying will the Father be truly revealed. Only in Jesus’ being lifted up will the Father and Son be one in loving the world into a new life. Only when Jesus dispossesses himself of any thought of being someone other than his Father’s son, does his dying bear fruit. Only when he lives for his Father and for the world, will his dying be new life for him and for us. The Father loves the world when his only Son loves the Father through dying.
Jesus says what will happen when he is lifted up, when he dies on the cross, when he loves us to the end, till ‘it is finished.’ He will be drawing everyone to himself. Others will see how God works in the faithful obedience of the Son; everyone will see in the Son lifted up, the place where God and the world come together. The Son of Man lifted up will become the center of the human world, the unifying point of humanity.
We who understand ourselves as servants of Jesus, of what are we servants? We are servants of his dying. We are servants of a transformation process that allows us to shed, like the grain in the ground, the hardness of our hearts, so that God can write his covenant of peace on our human hearts and so bind us to himself forever. On the cross, Jesus became that new covenant that Jeremiah sees today. On the cross, the Father glorifies Jesus as his Son, on the cross the Father recognizes his Son. And from the cross, embracing and carrying all our inhumanity, Jesus brings his obedience and love to the Father as his faithful Son.
We are servants of that mystery each time a little more of ourselves dies and falls away; we are servants of Jesus when like him we remain bound to the same Father that glorified his Son. When we remain faithful to that kind of dying, then we too will bear much fruit.
-Prior, Fr. Joel Macul, OSB
THE EASTER TRIDUUM 2018
all Liturgical Celebrations at Saint Benedict Center
Thursday, March 29 HOLY THURSDAY
6:30 AM Office of Readings $
12:00 Noon Daytime Prayer
7:00 PM MASS OF THE LORD’S
Adoration until Midnight
Friday, March 30 GOOD FRIDAY
6:30 AM Office of Readings &
12:00 Noon Daytime Prayer
3:00 PM GOOD FRIDAY LITURGY
7:00 PM Compline
Saturday, March 31 HOLY SATURDAY
6:30 AM Office of Readings &
12:00 Noon Daytime Prayer
5:30 PM Evening Prayer (Vespers)
7:15 PM Night Prayer (Compline)
Sunday, April 1 EASTER SUNDAY
5:00 AM THE EASTER VIGIL at SBC
Breakfast following – all are invited
From Daytime Prayer on: all at BMH
12:00 Noon Daytime Prayer
5:00 PM Solemn Vespers
7:00 PM Compline
CHRIST IS RISEN, ALLELUIA
Fr. Volker celebrated Holy Mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent. His homily video is below: