Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stillness of Mystery. A Benedictine oblate blog

My Lent took a turn into more silence — my soul into contemplation of Jesus’ life — drawing everyone to him. For the past few days a peaceful meditation stays with me constantly.

I think my spirit was moved here after reading two readings from “Benedictine Daily Prayer — A Short Breviary” [link is to book publisher] for the Annunciation, March 25, and one reading for the fifth Sunday of Lent.(1)

My thoughts about Advent often were about hope. My thoughts about Lent are about mystery.


The picture is "stillness" by Vanessa.

(1) The three readings mentioned in this blog are the following from “Benedictine Daily Prayer — A Short Breviary” (BDP)


From the letters of Pope St. Leo the Great to Flavian,

The mystery of Our reconciliation.

Majesty humbled itself, power became weak, and eternity mortal. To pay the debt inherent in Our estate, the inviolable nature of God was united to Our passible nature so that, as Our healing required, the one Mediator between God and people, the man Jesus Christ, might be both subject to death because he was a man and yet free of death because he was God.

The true God was thus born a full and complete man, wholly divine and wholly human. By "human" we mean What the Creator made in the beginning and What he made his own in order to redeem it. Whatever the deceiver introduced into us and deceived humanity accepted, had no place in the Savior.

He shared our weaknesses but not Our sins. He took the status of a servant, therefore, but of a sinless one, exalting the humanity without lessening the divinity. For this self-emptying in which the invisible One became visible and the Creator and Lord of all things willed to become a mortal creature was the stooping of pity, not the failing of power. Thus he who as God created humanity became a man himself in the form of a servant.

The Son of God enters Our lowly world, descending from his heavenly throne but not putting off the glory that he has from the Father. He is reborn in a new way — new, as man; though incomprehensible, he willed to be comprehended; existing before all time, he began to exist in time; the Lord of the universe hid his majesty and took the estate of a servant; the impassible God did not disdain to become a suffering man, and though immortal, to subject himself to the law of death.

He who is true God is also truly a man, and in this unity there is no illusion, lowly though human is and lofty the Godhead.

For as God is not changed when he takes pity, neither is the human nature absorbed by the divinity. Each nature does, in communion with the other, what is proper to it: the Word does what belongs to him as Word, and the flesh what belongs to it as flesh.


READING I Second Option

From a Sermon on the Nativity of the Lord by St. Odilo of Cluny

I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, as the firstborn before all creation. He who spoke through Solomon, saying: I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, as the firstborn before all creation; and again, The Lord possessed me when his purpose first unfolded, before the earliest of his works; from everlasting I was firmly established; he who said through Isaiah: Do I not fill heaven and earth? — he it is who, in the mysterious plan of his own providence, took flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary.

While Solomon's words teach us that Christ was eternally in existence before the world began, Isaiah's declare that there is no place in the whole of creation from which he is absent. And if he exists always and everywhere, he cannot be absent from ourselves. The testimony of the ancient prophets to Christ's eternal being and his boundless divine presence is indeed trustworthy and true, and is confirmed by the resounding call of that inspired heavenly trumpet: Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, the same forever. Our Savior himself tells the Jews in the gospel: Before Abraham ever existed, I am.

With God the Father from all eternity, before Abraham existed (more accurately, before anything existed) he had his eternal being; and yet he chose to be born in time from the stock of Abraham — Abraham who was told by God the Father: In your posterity all the peoples of the earth will be blessed.

The blessed patriarch David was also granted the sublime privilege of a similar promise. Revealing to him the hidden secrets of his wisdom, God the Father told him: The fruit of your body I will set upon your throne. These two received the promise of the Savior's coming more plainly than any of our other forebears, and so they deserved to be given the first and most important place in the records of our Lord's ancestry according to the evangelist Matthew, the opening words of whose gospel are: The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. With these sacred words of the evangelist both the prophetic oracles and the apostolic
preaching are in accord. It is evident that when the prophet Isaiah said in the person of God the Father: And so, Israel my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend in whom I took possession of you, his message was that the mediator between God and humankind would be born according to the flesh from the stock of Abraham.

The man in the gospel who was freed from the darkness of ignorance and enlightened by faith addressed God's Son as Son of David. Not only did he receive spiritual insight, but he also deserved to have his bodily sight restored. Christ the Lord desires to be called by his name, knowing that there is no other name by which the world can be saved. And if we ourselves wish to be saved by him who is the one and only Savior, each of us must also say to him: Lord, son of David, have mercy on us. Amen.


Fifth Sunday of Lent

READING I Tract 49

From the Homilies on John by St. Augustine

If all things were made by him, what wonder is it that one was raised by him? Among all the miracles performed by our Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Lazarus holds a foremost place in preaching. But if we consider attentively who did it, our duty is to rejoice rather than to wonder. A man was raised up by Him who made humanity: for he is the only One of the Father, by whom, as you know, all things were made. And if all things were made by him, what wonder is it that one was raised by him, when so many are daily brought into the world by his power? It is a greater deed to create people than to raise them again from the dead. Yet he chose both to create and to raise again; to create all, to resuscitate some.

You have just heard that the Lord Jesus raised a dead man to life; and that is sufficient to let you know that, were he so pleased, he might raise all the dead to life. And, indeed, this very work he has reserved in his own hands till the end of the world.

For while you have heard that by a great miracle he raised one from the tomb who had been dead four days, "the hour is coming:' as he himself says, "in which all who are in graves shall hear his voice, and shall come out of them." He raised one who was putrid, and yet in that putrid carcass there was still the form of limbs. At the last day he will by a word reconstitute ashes into human flesh.

It was, however, necessary then to do only some such deeds, in order that we, receiving them as tokens of his power, may put our trust in him, and prepare for that resurrection which shall be to life and not to judgment. So, indeed, he says, "The hour is coming, in which all who are in graves shall hear his voice, and shall come out of them; those who have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation."

No comments:

Post a Comment