Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Homily on John 17: 1-10

[text of a homily preached on Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter at St. Walburga's Abbey]

This morning the liturgy presents us with the beginning of the great priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to the Father. these glimpses we have of the Son speaking with the Father are quite astonishing in the sense that we are privy to the mysterious inner dialogue of the Holy Trinity. Out of the dialogue, I would like to reflect on two points.

First, the Father gives to the Son all that He is and has. The Father gives us to the the Son. The Father also gives "words" (lower case 'w') to the Son, who in turn shares these "words" with us. We see here in the Holy Trinity the foundation of koinonia or community, into which we are invited. Our own monastic communities must therefore be an image of God's original communion, particularly by our spiritual bonds of love and our material practice of common property. Thus the images of the early Church [Acts 2: 44-46, 4: 32-35] being "of one mind and one heart" and "holding all things in common" is founded on the prior unanimity and sharing that is the essence of God Who is Love. Our efforts at unity with one another and with the whole Church, our efforts to love the community, are directly related to our love of God and our mysterioius sharing in the divine life.

This is a daunting task, as anyone with a small amount of experience in community life recognizes. Lest we be discouraged by the limitations we find in ourselves that make this mutual love difficult, we should listen carefully to our Lords' next words, "I pray for them." The mysterious inner dialogue of the Holy Trinity, the eternal God, includes each of us, by name, as individuals and as community. Each of us is known by name to the Father, who gives us to the Son, and by the Son, Who prays for us unceasingly to the Father. What a marvelous consolation this should be for us! What need is there for fear our discouragement?

How often when we pray do we worry that God does not hear, that we risk offending Him by our fumbling with inadequate words and feelings, that even if God is listening, He is eager to be off to more important tasks? We need not be anxious at all. God's Son has already prayed for us and is praying for us. We need simply believe this and begin anew each day with our best efforts to live in this infinite and everlasting love. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will illumine our hearts to know this love of God and to be witnesses of this love by our love of our sisters and brothers.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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