Archive for July 3rd, 2017


God’s Never Done With Us

During the last few days we’ve forged our way through the story of Abraham in the readings for the weekday Masses.  Abraham was an intriguing fellow with a one-of-a-kind relationship with God, but all the same I’m thankful that I don’t have to walk in his sandals.  Actually, there’s the rub.  God asked Abraham to leave his homeland and extended family and take up what was essentially a nomadic life.  Worse still, there was no precise destination around which to focus his travels.  His was a life not well-suited for a monk who takes a vow of stability.  Granted, many monks do travel on occasion, but thankfully my plane ticket always carries a reminder of where I ultimately belong at the end of a trip.  Not so for Abraham.

With that as background, I had to preside at last Saturday’s Mass.  That day the lectionary happened to pair two readings that seemed to have little in common.  The first told the story of the hospitality that Abraham extended to three strangers.  He seemed to have gone all out to make their pause a pleasant one, and in the course of the visit one of the guests told Abraham that he and Sarah should expect the birth of a son within the next year.  To say the least, that came as a bit of a surprise, since both were in their 90s at the time.

IMG_6577The gospel reading for that day came from Matthew 8, and it recalls the story of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant.  It’s a striking exchange, and not least because the words of the centurion have been immortalized by their inclusion in the communion rite of the liturgy.  In brief, the centurion reminded Jesus that he could heal his servant, and there was no need for a house call.  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.  Say but the word, and my servant will be healed.”

A quick scan of these readings suggests they have little or nothing in common.  However, a homilist can’t just give up on finding a coherent thread to connect them and then move on to a reflection on the lovely weather we’ve been having.  And so the following homily is what I shared with the community on Saturday.

“Today’s readings present two radically different approaches to God’s ability to work in us.  On the one hand Abraham cannot be faulted for his commitment to the covenant, but all the same we can fault him for thinking that God was done with him.   Beyond child-bearing years and ready for their eternal rest, neither Abraham nor Sarah could imagine that God could have further use for either of them.

IMG_6580“The centurion, on the other hand, had absolute confidence that Jesus had further plans for him.  He hoped those plans included the cure of his servant, but he knew that Jesus would scarcely stop with that.

“We who commit ourselves to a covenant with the Lord in baptism and religious life sometimes assume we’ve reached the end of the line with what God expects of us.  We may be senior in years.  We may be in ill health.  We may be up to our eyeballs in work.  We may think we’ve exhausted the limits of our talent.  But just as was the case with Abraham, none of that is much of an excuse with God.  Just as God had further plans for Abraham and Sarah and the centurion, so God has further plans for us.  Let us, in this Eucharist, pray for open eyes and an open mind to recognize God’s hopes for us.  And let us pray for the strength to accomplish the great things to which God still calls us.”


+On July 1st I presided at the Abbey Mass.

+On July 1st we received David Franco-Mendez and Joe Eichorn as candidates in the monastery.  David is from Mexico City, and his introduction to Benedictine life took place at the Abbey of Tepeyac, where he completed the novitiate and for a time was in simple vows.  Joe is from Louisiana and for a time was a monk in simple vows at Saint Joseph’s Abbey.  He later came to Saint John’s to pursue an MA in theology, and this past year he served as a faculty resident in one of the college residence halls.  Because David and Joe completed the novitiate in other Benedictine communities, they do not have to repeat that process.  However, they must still complete a year of transition following a three-month candidacy, after which they can petition for admission into simple vows.

On July 8th Abbot John will receive Jordan Berns as a novice in our community.  Jordan is an alumnus of Saint John’s University, and after that he served as a Benedictine Volunteer at the Abbey of Sant Anselmo in Rome.  He then worked as organist and music minister in his home parish in Perham, MN.  As you might expect, we are delighted to welcome these three young men into our community.

+This last weekend was the first in several weekends when we did not host major groups on campus.  It was nice to have something of a break, though it was short-lived.  This morning the annual Monastic Institute begins, with Benedictines and others joining us for this annual conference on the monastic life.  Their presence will fill up the choir stalls, and their voices will augment our own wonderfully.

+The landscape at Saint John’s continues to be lush and colorful this summer, as the photos in today’s post hint.


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