2011 First Sunday of Advent -B – Abbot Joel

Abbey 2011                                                                                                                  First Sunday of Advent – B

Isaiah  63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
1 Corinthians 1: 3-9
Mark 13:33-37

Jesus speaks today of not knowing when “the time” will come. The Greek word in the gospel for this “time” is kairos. But there are two words for “time” in the New Testament, one is that used today, kairos; the other word is chronos.  There is a difference between the two. Chronos is the kind of time we usually mean. “Mass these Sundays starts at 8AM;” this is chronos time. We live very much in this chronos time. It is when programs start, airplanes take off, when the semester begins in school, what day of the week Christmas falls on, when is Chuseok. We are very much preoccupied with this chronos time. It marks minutes, days hours, weeks, months. Some are always wanting to know exactly when someone is coming or when we should start. I think everyone here is wearing a watch. And I can tell you there are many, many clocks in our house and at least one calendar in each room. That is chronos time. It can be measured. Often times we give our lives to it and this chronos runs our lives….

 The time word Jesus uses today is not chronos but kairos. Kairos time is a special time; it is charged with possibility; it is uncommon time, filled with the unexpected; kairos is a moment when the unexpected happens; something unplanned breaks into our routine. Kairos time is a time of opportunity; it is a gifted time. It is not something you can look at your watch and say it will come at 2:30 this afternoon. You can’t write it on your calendar like a doctor’s appointment or the day your vacation begins.

 If you hear yourself saying “when” will she come, “when does it start” or looking at your watch because something did not begin on time, you are living in chronos time…..it is orderly and sequential and for the most part predictable. But Jesus did not come in chronos time when he first came; and today’s gospel makes it clear that he will not come again in chronos time. When he comes is kairos time, unpredictable but yet wonderful and worth waiting for. Don’t feel badly if you are living in chronos time for the greater part of your life. Most of us are. So were the disciples….when Jesus started talking about what was to come, the disciples started saying “when” meaning, what month, what week, what day…chronos time. But Jesus always answers in kairos time: it will come when you are not looking at your watch, when your calendar runs out. Jesus says, I will come when I will come and even I do not know when, in chronos time, that will be.

The parable Jesus tells his expectant disciples makes it very clear that looking at their watches will not help. The calendars and watches will reveal nothing. We have to live in kairos time, only knowing that the great moment is coming but unable to calculate it. We can know that this kairos moment will be an opportunity such has never happened before. We know that the whole world will be transformed into a new paradise. We know that our relationships with one another will be cleansed and purified; we know that forgiveness will reign. And we know that this kairos moment will bring with it the resurrection, meaning that the chronos moment of death will suddenly be taken up and transformed into a future life beyond imagining. What we do know about this kairos moment is that nothing human will be left untransformed and all will be made to shine forth in all its glory. It will mean a living in the presence of and in the heart of the Trinitarian God and its all embracing love.

But for now the key word is “watch” “stay awake” “keep vigil” Since you do not know the coming of the time, you must always be ready for it. It can come at any moment on the chronos scale: morning, evening, noon, midnight…any time is a good time for ‘the time’ the great moment to break in. So watch.

Notice that Jesus does not oppose the chronos time with the kairos time. Rather it seems that the chronostime, the passing of days, years months, hours, seasons takes its meaning when they are centered on the coming time, the kairos, the moment of opportunity, the moment God offers. The time we live day in and day out has meaning because we are watching for the time of opportunity, the moment God has planned to take us in his hands again like the potter of Isaiah and make us utterly new. For us Christians, the kairostime, the moment of opportunity, has in fact begun. Jesus has come we profess; and his coming was unexpected—in fact, nearly everything about it was unexpected: that he came at all; how he came in utter simplicity and poverty; how he spoke so clearly of God’s working now; then how he came to see that his death would be the final act of loving us and the world. Then for the last great unexpected moment, his rising from the dead by the power of the Spirit. We Christians have already been touched by God’s time, his kairos.

But still our time here is not yet an opportunity of grace fully realized. It has yet to be completed. Ours is the time of watching. The final advent of Christ governs how we live in chronos time now; how we live with our clocks and watches and calendars. The parable Jesus shares with us makes it clear that Jesus’ absence from us means responsibility and service on our part. Waiting for the great moment is not dull, inactive, passive. Rather it is itself a kairos, an opportunity to live the gifts that knowing and believing in Jesus have brought us. This is Paul’s point to the Corinthian community. Yes, you and we are waiting for the revelation of the Lord Jesus. But you have already been filled and enriched with so much. You are not lacking in any gift, Paul says. We have the gifts we need for our way of watching and keeping awake. In fact, living out the gifts we have is precisely how we stay awake and watch.

 The Advent season is a kairos moment. It is an opportunity to experience longing for what is to come, to stay close to that longing. It is a moment to refresh in Christ what the vision of God’s future is for the world through the words of the prophets and the life of Christ himself. Advent is the kairos, the opportunity to awaken and realize that we live for someone, that we live for the Kingdom. And Advent is an opportunity to be sober about the quality of how we have been living. If the prophet Isaiah is right, we are blown about like the dry leaves of autumn, caught up in our worlds and drifting. Advent is an opportunity to wait for reconciliation and healing, to let ourselves be taken up into God’s hands and molded again, like a potter, into his image.

Three times Jesus cries, “Watch.” Watch for the opportunity to experience God’s coming to be with us again. Watch, because we have a future worth waiting for. Watch and yes, work and be responsible, because then you will be like the gatekeeper who will catch the sound of the first knock at the door and gladly open so that the Lord may eat with his servants that banquet where all will be satisfied.

Let our minds be in harmony with our voices – Fr. Augustine

20111122 Memorial of Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr (Lk 21:5-11)
My dear brothers and sisters, today we are celebrating the memorial of Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr. This saint was martyred in the second or third century at Rome and she is one of most honored martyrs since the early years of the Church.
At the martyrdom of Cecilia, it is said that as she died she sang to God. It is also written that as the musicians were played at her wedding, she sang in her heart to the Lord.
Therefore, she is the acclaimed patroness of music, especially church music, as well as that of musicians, composers, instrument makers and poets.
On the memorial of Saint Cecilia let us give thanks to our cantors and accompanist; Abbot Joel, Br. Bernadin, Br. David and Br. Luke. May we consider, then, as we are a chorus of monks, how we ought to behave in the presence of God, and let us stand to sing our prayers in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.

How to be trustworthy in great things – Fr. Augustine

20111105 Saturday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time (Lk 16:9-15)

My dear brothers and sisters, today we are celebrating mass for our deceased benefactors, as is our custom. And we are keeping the monthly day of recollection from midday yesterday. By tradition, the month of November especially is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, those faithful who have died and gone before us but who still must atone for their sins. The time they spend in Purgatory cleanses them so that they may enter Heaven free from all effects of sin. So, we are praying for our deceased benefactors, especially for those we have known, this is a requirement of Christian charity. Our own prayers and sacrifices can be offered up to relieve their suffering.

  How to be trustworthy in great things.

 When I see American money, I am very interested. Because on it is written “In God We Trust.” I know that these words are the official motto of USA. As today’s Gospel says, you cannot serve God and mammon and “No servant can serve two masters.” I think that the Federal Reserve Bank, called FRB is not for American people of 99%. If FRB is servant for all American, this is very ironic. I sincerely hope that American money does not only serve 1% American people but also does others. This is one of best ways to trust and serve our God. We believe that God sees everything, even the most hidden thoughts.

Sometimes our daily life looks dull, dry and boring in such very small things: the same schedule, the same prayer and work, the same brothers and same community… If so, we remember in today’s Gospel that “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” And it is in our ordinary time that we have to fulfill ourselves as monks and grow in holiness. We can just do faithful to monastic life with upright intention and a sincere desire to seek our God. If we do so, we are at last trustworthy in great and small matters. This is our monastic life whenever we choose God’s work, and then our God always provides what we need. Be trustworthy!

Go to Jerusalem – Fr. Augustine

20111027 Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time (Lk 13:31-35)

 My dear brothers and sisters, as autumn moves to winter and the days get shorter, we can seek ways to bring light into our lives. I think that our light is very simple. It is love. Love of God, brothers, neighbors and self go hand in hand against our weakness. In today’s reading St. Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. In short, with this love, we can overcome everything. We remember that nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God.

 Go to Jerusalem

In today’s Gospel Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem, where he will be arrested and condemned. He intends to travel with single minded purpose. He says Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day.”No turning back for Jesus. He knows where he is going. He also knows whats coming for him: betrayal, death and resurrection. In spite of knowing that his own death is certain, he continues to teach and heal and draw his children to him. Still he loves the ones who will not be gathered under his wings as a hen. He is not in a hurry to get to Jerusalem, but he will get there in his own time. And when he does, he will do it for you and me, covering us with his wings of protection, assuring us of a place in Gods heart.

 We remember that our Lord will indeed gather us under his wings. So, we can journey to Jerusalem with our Lord. My brothers and sisters, set our faces toward Jerusalem and stay the course knowing that Jesus walks to protect and guide us.

If you do not repent, … Fr. Augustine

20111022 Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time (Lk 13:1-9)

My dear brothers and sisters, now, there is a change of seasons. When the seasons change, the temperature fluctuates from night to day. It is easy to catch a cold during this time. You should pay more attention to your health. And we are celebrating this mass for Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday. We specially pray and sing that Mary is the foundation of salvation. We remember that Mary is the whole hope of our salvation and the foundation of all our confidence is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary.

If you do not repent, …

We just heard a fearful parable in today’s Gospel: “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?”

 This parable is not just about a fig tree, it is a clear fact about us. It tells us about repentance, namely ‘metanoia.’ From the Greek, metanoia means a changing of mind and refers to spiritual conversion. The word ‘metanoia’ appears often in the Gospel. It is usually translated into English as ‘repentance.’ Metanoia is necessary and valuable because it brings about change of mind or repentance. The concept of metanoia is concerned with our monastic life, especially with our monastic vow, Conversatio Morum which can be translated as “fidelity to monastic life” and be called “the monastic metanoia” at times. Therefore one of the three Benedictine vows is Conversatio Morum, a vow to be always striving for change in our life, always seeking God, always striving for perfection. I think that we are undergoing metanoia. We are turning our attention and our hearts around. We are looking for something better, something eternal.

 If so, we cannot afford to ignore this Gospel. We could bear the fruit of our repentance, it is a Conversatio Morum, “fidelity to monastic life”, that is to say the monastic metanoia.

If you know Jesus; Do not be afraid – Fr. Augustine So

20111014 Friday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time (Lk 12:1-7)

 My dear brothers and sisters, we know the meaning of benefactor. Yes, a benefactor is a person who gives some form of help to benefit a person, group or organization. In fact the word benefactor comes from Latin bene and factor, bene means good and factor is maker. So, our benefactor is a person who helps to make our monastery better. We have some benefactors who are unknown to us and some who are known. Our benefactors, Rita(자매님) and Paul(아저씨) are leaving here tomorrow morning. I think that they are our old friends and our family who stayed, worked and helped us. And they sincerely prefer our monastic works to their personal gain because their prayer is that our monastery become better. I hope and pray that they, Rita(자매님) and Paul(아저씨) are always happy and their faith is credited as righteousness. It is true that their presence will stay with us for a very long time.

 If you know Jesus; Do not be afraid.

In today’s Gospel our Lord Jesus is constantly concerned for the welfare of his people. We find that his heart and mind were occupied, his every thought was focused on his disciples and his people. What an example he is. Our Lord Jesus is fully devoted to the welfare of his people. We are truly God’s people and his disciples, if so, he is concerned for us.

And Jesus said: “Do not be afraid.” He commands us to not be afraid. Nonetheless, we feel afraid anyway. We can’t just turn fear off as if we had control of it. Rather, fear turns us off. It seems bigger than us.

We pray and sing that although we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil for He is with us. And “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s Refuge; of whom should I be afraid?”

We remember that He promised to be with us always, even “until the end of the world.” and then “Do not be afraid.”

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – Abbot Joel

Abbey 2011                                                                           28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Isaiah 25:6–10a
Philippians 4:12–20
Matthew 22:1–14 (10)

 For the past few weeks the image of the vineyard has dominated our Sunday word. But the theme has been the announcement of the Kingdom and the response to that. Today the theme of Kingdom and its acceptance or rejection remains, but the image has changed. Today we are asked to recall one of Israel’s favorite images of the Kingdom to come, namely a banquet. The feast where God is the host and all are invited not to a simple meal but to a table filled with richest and the best of food and drink.

 Isaiah places this meal of the future on God’ s mountain and adds to it the theme that tears and pain and death will also be swept away. It is truly the meal that awaits us after death; it is the picture of heaven, of paradise restored. Jesus’ parable features a banquet also, but we have to admit that it is a bit more complex than Isaiah’s vision.  Isaiah’s vision is on the grand scale: everyone is invited and apparently will enjoy God’s hospitality in a world transformed. Jesus’ story is not so simple. That banquet has now become a wedding feast and those invited, well that is where the image gets very interesting.

 Isaiah’s vision may be other worldly, situated clearly in a time that is yet to come, a vision of hope. And yet it is believable. Jesus parable is a of a different kind than we are used to. As Matthew recounts it, it has lost some of the background of everyday life. The story has become what we call an allegory. Each element of the story signifies something else. It may be possible for us accept that someone would actually turn down an invitation from a king. Highly unlikely but still possible. What is a bit farfetched is that we would beat up and kill those who came with the invitation. We could appreciate that the host would be rather upset that people would refuse an invitation for what they thought was more important business. But I think we would find it too much to believe that soldiers would be sent in to kill the murderers and destroy their city; hard to believe that a king is waging war against those who refused and then killed his messengers and all the while the food is on the table waiting for guests to come! Then there is that odd ending about the king finding someone in the hall without a wedding garment when these guests were invited in off the street in the first place. It is all a clue that there is another story being told here, and indeed there is.

 Similar to last Sunday’s parable about tenants of the vineyard, we are listening in on the story of God’s dealing with his people; a history of salvation. The event is the wedding, the wedding of God’s son with his people. This wedding is to be the climax of God’s covenant with his people. Hearing the parable we are not wrong to conclude that Jesus must be the God-King’s son and that throughout history messengers have come to say the Kingdom and the wedding is at hand. These messengers we can take to be the prophets. But people were busy about their own lives. They no longer cared about God and his banquet; they enough food of their own; they were self reliant now, no need for God. Business came first, never mind other priorities. So another group of messengers is sent. These are the Christians of Matthew’s time. And they experience persecution. Read the Beatitudes again and it is clear that persecution was an experience of the early followers of Christ. The destruction of the city is an allegory for the destruction of the Holy city Jerusalem in 70AD. Some Christians at the time saw it as a punishment from God, much as at the time of the great exile in 587 BC when it was understood as a punishment for breaking the covenant. The leaders, the Jewish Christians said, have rejected the great prophet whom God sent, namely Jesus from Nazareth.

Now comes the second list of guests: this time anyone out in the streets can come in. And notice that the group is a mixed group, the servants are bringing in “the bad and the good.” In the framework of the allegory, the invitation to join the marriage of the Son has been extended to the Gentiles, and a mixed lot at that. Now the King comes in to judge.. One is found “without a wedding garment.” On a realistic note this is an impossible expectation. How can people from the street have a wedding garment? But when we switch to an allegory mode, we can discover what is meant here. Clothing is often a metaphor for good works and faithful discipleship. St. Paul speaks of the baptized as “putting on the Lord Jesus” and that they “have clothed themselves with Christ.” Perhaps the key to the wedding garment lies in Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians on their community life, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” And then he continues, “and over these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3.12-14)

It is not too farfetched to understand our wedding garment as this clothing of love. This is the good work that we bring with us into the final banquet of the lamb. The invitation is generous enough and Jesus says, many respond. But he goes on to point out that “not all” or “only a few” will actually make it to the great table. In other words, baptism may be the initial response to the invitation, the call. But it doesn’t stop there. It is a matter of a lifetime of getting on the clothing that is the way of the Lord’s discipleship, his way of service. It is easy to step into the waters of baptism but it takes a life time to strip off an old self focused only on my self-sufficiency. Jesus calls it denying oneself and following him instead. Baptism is only the beginning. The banquet is at the end. And what we are wearing matters.

 The allegory puts a challenge to us. We are invited guests. How do we respond to the call to the marriage feast? Too busy to come, other priorities, too self-satisfied? And if we do come, what are we wearing? It seems it is not enough just to show up at the wedding banquet. We have to come with something. We are to come with a garment of a life time of loving, selflessness, of putting others ahead of us.

This parable calls us to an honesty about our lives. It asks us the question: “How are you living out your baptismal call? What have you done with the white garment you were given then?” It was to remind you of your dignity. You were told to bring it with you for the final judgment. The judge will look to see if you have lived up to your dignity. In all honesty, we may have let the garment slip off or even exchanged it for another, less demanding perhaps, maybe even more comfortable (wedding clothes are not known for being comfortable). Isaiah offers us the vision of the final banquet where death no longer threatens. It holds out the hope that God will nourish us and satisfy our longings. Jesus reminds us that while we may be fascinated by the vision, we are not there yet. There is a journey ahead of us. We have the markings that we are one of those to sit on God’s holy mountain, but those markings must be exercised.

At every Eucharist we have a glimpse of the final banquet and the love of the wedding garment. Each Eucharist we hear of “my body given up for you,” “the cup of my blood poured out for you for forgiveness.”  When those words have become the clothing of our lives, the source of our good works; when they have penetrated our hearts,  then at the great banquet when the King comes in to judge the guests, our wedding garment will mark us as “chosen, as beloved.”

If you will want to be truly happy – Fr. Augustine

20111008 Saturday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time (Lk 11:27-28)

My dear brothers and sisters, today we are celebrating mass for Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday, and we are keeping monthly day of recollection from midday yesterday.

The month of October especially is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. Most of us have called the Rosary our favorite prayer, in which we meditate with Mary upon the mysteries which she as a mother meditated on in her heart.

During the month of October, let us consider the beautiful prayer of the Rosary as means that we can use in order to draw closer to Jesus and Mary by meditating on the mysteries of our salvation.

If you will want to be truly happy …,

According to today’s Gospel we are surely happy. Because we are hearing and living God’s Word, maybe we are more blessed than Holy Mary was in being mother of God. However, this does not mean you are more blessed than Mary. We pray and sing in the Magnificat every evening that Holy Mary is blessed among women and called blessed by all the ages because she was Jesus’ mother and she was faithful in keeping the word of God.

Our God wants us to be blessed, yes, he wants our happiness. It is a kind of happiness which is greater than the joy of living, because we believe in an endless and eternal life. In today’s Gospel Holy Mary is not only blessed because she carried Jesus and nursed him but also because she heard the word of God and observed it. This is the same way in which we are blessed. If we truly seek happiness, may the blessings of happiness be ours through living God’s word.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – Fr. Augustine

September 25, 2011 Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A cycle

Ezekiel 18:25-28
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 21:28-32

My dear brothers and sisters,

How are you this Sunday?

After the summer ends, we see the autumn of leaves turning.

I enjoy watching the trees all dressed up in fall colors.

It is a good time to take a walk in the cool mornings and evenings,

if there are no mosquitoes.

In today’s Gospel we find the parable of the vineyard where there are two sons.

The one says “yes” and does nothing; the other says “no,” but he does as father asks.

The parable is about saying and doing.

It is just like us what is our response when asked to do something.

Our God is waiting for our answer and action.

Now, let us give thanks to the Lord for inviting us,

«He changes his mind and goes»

The harvest season has come. The harvest is dependent upon the weather.

We are worried about this year’s harvest because of heavy rains and floods.

There will be much work in the place of harvest.

As we know,

Fr. Odilo and Br. David are also busy doing much work in our Christmas tree farm.

Often Br. David invites me to his farm, then I begin to feel sick.

I am sorry for him, but I think my sick is a grace.

And also, in today’s Gospel Jesus invites us to work in the vineyard now.

It’s good thing for you this is not our Christmas tree farm,

But we could be ready to answer Jesus’ invite and do something or nothing.

Perhaps today’s parable of the two sons is easily understandable to us,

and also we have experienced that it describes this situation.

It is a parable about obedience and disobedience.

It is about answering of Yes and No.

It is about changing ones mind in a positive way and a negative way.

It is fundamentally about the choices we make in life.

We know the first son, who says “no”, denies the father by his word,

but he later repents of his words and obeys the will of the father.

The second son who says “Yes,” when the father orders him to go out to the vineyard,

the second son loves his father only with his words,

and not with his heart and actions as well.

He is not honest with the father, for after saying “Yes” he does not go.

This parable is intended by Jesus to work at an entirely different level.

When Jesus asks the chief priests and elders, Which of the sons did the fathers will? Jesus is actually talking about how his listeners are behaving in relation to God’s will.

Jesus surely implies that they are like the second son in the parable.

The second son says that he will follow his fathers will but actually does not.

And also Jesus implies that tax collectors and prostitutes are like the first son.

In the Gospel we know that tax collectors and others repented and received Johns baptism.

It seems that Jesus chooses tax collectors and prostitutes.

They are guilty of serious sin:

the tax collectors are gathering money for Rome,

and the prostitutes are providing other kinds of services for their soldiers.

Both are betraying the nation.

For that reason they are particularly disliked to the high priests and elders.

Last sunday we heard the parable of the workers in the vineyard

and next Sunday we will meet the parable of the tenants of the vineyard.

All three of these parables are clearly addressed to the Jewish authorities

and are meant to expose their deep hypocrisy

and their ultimate refusal to accept Jesus as the Messiah and the message of his Gospel.

It might be said that by challenging these Jesus provokes them into the actions which led to his death on the Cross.

Now we are gathered here around this altar.

Today’s parable is addressed to you and to me right now.

And if we are guilty of hypocrisy, it will surely find us out.

Yes, it will find us out and then it will also provide us with Lord’s way,

because in today’s first reading from Ezekiel we hear that

the Lord’s way is not unfair and our God grants life .

Our God always gives us the chance to change our mind to his way

and he always invites us to repent of our errors and to believe in him.

Our God is constantly showing us the true path.

Even in our most deeply sinful moments,

even in our times of most profound doubt and rejection,

he is inviting us to have faith and trust in him.

And so, I would say that we are called to work in the Father’s vineyard.

This vineyard is a base of our being.

The vineyard is a foundation of our praying.

The vineyard is a ground of our working.

Thus our Father’s vineyard is place where we are sincerely seeking God.

Finally, I pray and hope that we would find our vineyard

described vividly by St. Paul in todays second reading;

If there is any encouragement in Christ,

any solace in love,

any participation in the Spirit,

any compassion and mercy,

complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,

united in heart, thinking one thing.

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;

rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,

each looking out not for his own interests,

but also for those of others.

This vineyard would be our monastery. Amen.

Who do you say that you are? – Fr. Augustine

20110923 Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina(Lk 9:18-22)

My dear brothers and sisters,

Today we are celebrating the memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina,

As we know, he is a recent Italian saint and popularly known as Padre Pio.

Padre Pio was a priest of Capuchin Friars

and he lived at the Capuchin friary in San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy.

This friary is located countryside like our monastery.

The life of Padre Pio is no different as our monastic life.

He was a sought after spiritual adviser and confessor,

whose life was devoted to the Mass and prayer.

Yes, it would seem that his life is like our life.

But, Padre Pio was much different than us,

he is not only venerated as a saint in Italy, but also in the world.

The reason is not that he became famous for his stigmata for fifty years.

I think that we can see a reason for following his words, despite his fame.

Padre Pio would often say, “I only want to be a poor brother who prays.”

So, we would like pray and hope that our monastic wounds are conformed

to the wounds of the crucified Christ, Jesus.

This proclaims our God is with us.

Who do you say that you are?

There is an expression in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Agere sequitur esse.

It means that action follows being or what we do follows from what we are.

I think about the saying that our acting proves our identity.

For example, our identity is that we are human,

our action can testify that we are sincere human beings.

So, I would like ask you a question: “Who do you say that you are?”

In fact, the question modifies Jesus’ questions in today’s Gospel.

We find two questions in the Gospel that Jesus is asking all of us.

The first one is “Who do the crowds say that I am?”,

This question make us look around and see how others answer.

In here, crowds or others can be our brothers, friends and neighbors.

And their answers make us realize what they need, what they desire.

But, there is a second question for us: “Who do you say that I am?”

This is a fundamental question knocking at our heart.

Our answer is delicate and determining, because it affects us.

What do our lips and attitude say in our daily monastic life about Jesus?

I hope that you are ready to answer this question: “Who do you say that I am?”

And then, would you come back my question: “Who do you say that you are?”

Your answer is about your identity, your action comes from your identity,

because you remember that Agere sequitur esse.

I would say like today’s saint, Padre Pio,

“I am a monk. I only want to be a poor monk who prays.”