March 6, 2012

HOMILY for Tues in Week 2 of Lent

Isa 1:10. 16-20; Ps 49; Matt 23:1-12

Christ is the divine Logos made Man. And that Greek word ‘logos’ can mean ‘Word’, as it is often translated, but it is also rich in other meanings related to words, such as speech, discourse, and reason. So, when Isaiah 1:18 is translated as “Come now, let us reason together”, we find this same Greek root ‘logos’ being used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. But equally, the sentence could be translated as “Come now, let us dialogue”.

This verbal relationship helps us to see that in sending the divine Logos to become flesh, and to unite our human nature to his divine nature, God enters into dialogue with humanity. And as with any good dialogue, there is a two-way learning process. Christ learns from our sinful world just what is the nature of sin, and how humanity has been wounded by sin so that he can save us from it. As St Paul says: “For our sake [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin”. Christ learns the depths to which humanity sinks when he is raised up on the Cross, for the response of our sinful world to pure Love is violence, hatred, and death. But through that Cross which Christ freely endures for our sake, we are saved from our sins. So that the Word that is spoken to us, in Christ Crucified, is of God’s grace and forgiveness: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isa 1:18b). For we have been washed and made clean not by our own efforts but by Christ’s, who won for us our salvation and our freedom from sin through his sacrifice on the Cross.

But if it’s all Christ’s efforts, and his Word of forgiveness and salvation, where’s the dialogue in this? We’re called to “reason together”… So, our redemption is participative, it involves us too, somehow. As such, it is not just that the Logos becomes flesh, taking on our humanity, but we too, in our humanity become divine, taking on the form of the incarnate Word. That is to say, the experience of being forgiven and redeemed through the Cross changes us, so that we become like Christ, learning from him who is “true Man” how to be truly human. So, as Isaiah says, we “cease to do evil, learn to do good”. And who better to learn from than Jesus, who is all good? Truly, then, Christ alone is our “one teacher” (Mt 23:8).

And the ultimate lesson of his goodness is also taught from that classroom of Golgatha, where Christ is on the magisterial seat of the Cross. There, we see the depths of Christ’s love, forgiving even those who crucified him. This same lesson is taught afresh in each and every Mass, which is the sacrament of Jesus’ sacrificial and redeeming love on the Cross. Here, in this classroom, the dialogue is taken up and continued. For in this sacrament Christ’s blood is poured out “for the forgiveness of sins”, and we receive the living Word into our bodies, into our lives, so that the Word continues to dialogue within us, reasoning with us, teaching us the Way of justice, humility, and love.

Through the Eucharist, if we listen to the Logos, and learn from Christ our Teacher, we will be transformed by grace so that we become like him: humbled and cruciform, but ultimately, exalted.

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