Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Lent

Readings: Gen 22:1-18; Rom 8:31-34; Mk 9:2-10

1. Last week we explored how Baptism incorporates us into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. Today we want to look at how Baptism makes us members of the People of God. Like the "Paschal Mystery" the "People of God" is another notion that was recaptured by modern scholarship and was fully affirmed by the Second Vatican Council. It added some vitally important dimensions to what was the then-current understanding of the Church. We need to examine this.

2. The People of God is an idea with strong biblical roots. Its foundation lay in the covenant that God formed with the people of Israel. (Lev 26:9-12) The promise that God made was made precisely with a whole people, not first with individuals; indeed it was that promise that in fact made them a holy people. This promise was later made with each and every member of the People. (Jer 31:31-34) It is that covenant that Jesus Christ transformed into the New Covenant by his Body and Blood poured out for all. That was ratified by the water and blood that came forth from the side of Christ on the cross.

3. By being washed in the waters of Baptism each of us enters into that covenant, that promise. It is made with each one of us as we are a member of the People of God. And so we live with a promise, a promise that the Lord God will be our special God and lead us to the promise of everlasting life. But again we have this promise as a people and so we are to live with one another, sharing the journey of life and faith.

4. So many of those themes entered over time into monastic identity and practice: the theme of monastic profession as a second baptism; the theme of the monastic community as an ecclesiola, a little version of the whole church, of the People of God; the theme of the fruits of the Spirit as the outpouring of monastic profession.

5. This weekend all of you have been engaged in an important step on your journey as the People of God in the election of a new prioress. The grace of God has begun this good work in you. Let us pray especially in this Eucharist that the same grace of God will bring this work to perfection.

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