May 9, 2010, 6th Sunday of Easter "C"

Mississippi Abbey, Iowa, USA

Actes 15, 1-2.22-29; Apoc. 21, 10-14.22-23; Jean 14,23-29.



            When you promise something to someone, and you want to assure that person that you will really do it, you may say "I give you my word".  And, if you are a person of honor, after you have given your word, you will abide by that word. 

            But in other occasions you may express exactly the same thing by saying: "I will keep my word".  Paradoxical as it may be, to "give one's word" and to "keep one's word" mean exactly the same thing.

             This is not a play with words. It is a manifestation of the profound meaning and extreme importance of the "word" as a means of communication and communion between persons.  The word is one with the person who utters it. If that word is true, it remains part of the person who has pronounced it as much as it becomes part of the persons who receives it.  It is both given and kept; and it unites the two persons to one another.  If the word is not true, then it is separated from both persons. 

            And, by the way, this is why silence is so important in the life of Contemplative prayer: not because speech is not important; but because it is too important to be wasted in trivial things. 

            When I give my word I give myself, and therefore a personal communion is established between me and the person to whom I gave my word. 

            God has loved us so much, says John, that he has given us His Word. He has given it and has kept it. He has given us his own consubstantial Word, his Son; and whoever receives Him and keeps Him is united with God. 

            The Gospel we just read was an answer of Jesus to a question from Judas (not the Iscariot). The question was: "How is it that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world.  Jesus' answer is:  "If you love me you will keep my word; my Father will love you; we will come to you and we will make our dwelling in you.  And he explains that his word is not his; it is his Father's word." So, in the same way as Jesus receives the Father's word and is united with Him in love; in the same way, if we receive their word and keep it, we will be united with them in the same bond of love. 

            And here is something interesting for us, monastics. When Jesus says that the Father and He will come and make their "dwelling" with us, the Greek word used is "monč".  Now "monč" is one of the two words used in the Greek monastic texts for "monastery" ("monč" and "monasterion" are interchangeable. And the etymology of monastery is not the same as that of monk. A monastery, etymologically, does not mean a place where you find monks. The etymology of monč or monasterion means a place where someone dwells.  Now, to dwell somewhere is not the same as to be somewhere.  The meaning of dwelling implies some stability, some permanence, some satisfaction or pleasure. You dwell in a place that you have made your own; your mind dwells on something that is important to you -- or on someone whom you love. 

            This is what a monastery is all about: it is a place where a group of persons dwell together on the same Word of God; where they keep together the same Word, and are united by the same Spirit.  It is a place, therefore, where they together expect the Visit of the Father, the Son and the Spirit, and their dwelling among them.  This is what unites us into a community.






Homélie pour le même dimanche en 2001 :

français / italien /