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April 30, 2009

Homilies from the Cloister

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"Hear now, while I declare what he has done for me."

Psalm 66 addresses both "all you who fear God" and "you peoples." Everyone who can hear is an audience for those who pray this Psalm. We who pray Psalm 66 in spirit and in truth want to declare what God has done for us. When we appeal to him in words, even while we are making intercessions, praise is on the tip of our tongues. We bless the LORD who refused not our prayer nor his kindness. The joy of salvation is contagious, and like King David, Saint Philip cannot hold back. The Spirit moves the Deacon Philip where he wills and the good news reaches all the towns until he reached Caesarea. Jerusalem rejects the early church and the hungry world embraces the followers of Jesus, the bread of life. Jesus, too, proclaims to the crowd that whoever believes in him has eternal life. Everyone who has been taught by God comes to Jesus and is nourished by the bread of life. Everyone comes-even Ethiopians, eunuchs, and the people of Azotus.
Saint Philip is obedient to an angel of the Lord, to the Spirit of God, and to the request of a stranger. The stranger seems to be a Jewish convert, an Ethiopian eunuch, who wants to understand the meaning of one of the Suffering Servant Songs in the prophecy of Isaiah. With this passage as an opening, Philip enters into the stranger's heart and proclaims the good news of the cross and resurrection of the Faithful Suffering Servant, Jesus the Christ. His interpretation, evangelization, and catechesis is so powerful that the eunuch pointed to some water along the side of the road and asked, "what is to keep me from being baptized?" Both continue down the Way, in Christ, the eunuch goes back to Ethiopia, to declare God's great kindness, and Saint Philip continues to invite all the earth to cry out with joy. The revelation through the Law and the Prophets enables us to see the fulfillment of God's design. The Word of God reveals a universal hunger and thirst and the Word Made Flesh satisfies completely all those who come to him-the bread of life.
Jesus quotes the prophets who declare that God shall teach them all. All who listen to the Father and learn from him come to Jesus and believe in him. This universal outreach points out the difference between the ministry of Moses and Jesus. Moses is God's Friend, and yet the Lord God places him in a crevice and covers his face so he does not gaze upon the Lord, lest he die. Moses is close to God, but he never sees the Father. Jesus is the one who is from God and has seen the Father. The manna in the desert fed the people Moses led, but they died. The bread that is Jesus comes down from heaven, for a man to eat and never die. The Word Became Flesh and dwelt among us to give over his flesh and die so that we might live now in the joy of salvation and forever in the kingdom of his glory. Such is his promise to us and to all who have heard the Father and learned from him. The question remains in John's gospel how is Jesus to give over his flesh for the life of the world? Jesus, the bread of life begins to respond. He will give his flesh, this revelation points to both the altar of the cross and the table of the Passover Feast. Jesus' self-gift so transforms us that we can not hold back; indeed our joy is contagious, and we cry out, blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness! Such joy attracted people to Saint Philip and it will attract people to us so that we can give our testimony about the reason we have to be hopeful. We have seen the Face of God in Jesus and have died to ourselves so that we can live forever. It is this faith that ignites a life of charity, and it gives us hope to live from day to day.

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Pax et Gaudium

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness