The Dedication of Our Church
As we know, Bernard and the other Cistercian fathers read this feast of the dedication of the abbey church as a symbol of our own dedication, our being “chosen.”
Jesus is the model for our call and it is precisely as “rejected by human beings” that he is “chosen and precious in the sight of God.”
What if it was precisely what we have rejected in ourselves, what we’ve excluded from view and foisted onto others; what we’ve rejected as too painful, embarrassing, hurtful, strange or terrifying; precisely this, that God most loves?
Not the self of our plans, willpower and projects, but the wounded animal?
Through gradual, lifelong conversion, through the tender compassion and great delicacy of our God, we discover this stone rejected by the builders as the cornerstone of our real monastic and human life …and not the everyday plans ambitions and ideals with which we so readily identify.
It is the stone rejected that is precious and chosen in his sight.
It is to this stone we reject in ourselves that he says: ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own.’
It must have been electrifying to be around Jesus in his time on earth.
In the gospel today he goes straight to the sore spot, straight to the one despised and rejected and calls him precious, a son of Abraham.
If Jesus came to our community today for dinner, there’s every reason to think he would shock and surprise us by going straight to the one we collectively most ignore and disdain (whoever that might be in a given moment);
He would seat him on his right at the head table and begin to heal and teach us from there.
It is the sick who need a doctor not the healthy; Jesus came to call sinners not the righteous.
It’s all that remains in darkness within us that he calls into his marvelous light.
On this feast of the dedication of our abbey church, we give thanks for this holy place where we “announce the praises” of so good and gracious a God…
and pray that by his holy and glorious wounds, the Lord Jesus may heal us and raise us up.