“Because,” she says, “I need to be fed!”

My podcast: https://anchor.fm/becketmonk/episodes/Because–she-said–I-want-to-be-fed–2-e150c9i

Today the scriptures are clear: “Feed me God, feed me.” 

The widow and her son have no food.  But the prophet says, “Feed me.”  Following Jesus the crowd has no food.  The disciples have no food. The people say, “Feed me.”  There is only a boy with five barley loaves and two fish, and Jesus says, “We need to feed them.” Does anyone notice that so little feeds so many?

Catholics and many Christians see the multiplication of the loaves as a foreshadowing of the Eucharist.  It is a sacrament that is central to Catholic faith.  To illustrate- this sacrament is so important that a friend of mine named Alberta Smart told me at a dinner once that she wants to become Catholic. Sitting in front of me is a Baptist middle-age woman.  She leaves her Baptist Missouri Synod church where her father once preached as a minister to join the Catholic Church.  I ask her, “What is a good Baptist girl like you joining the Roman-Catholic-Church?”  “Because,” she says, “I need to be fed!”  

Out of Alberta’s mouth falls good Eucharistic theology.  Thus, this homily should be speaking about the relationship between feeding people at the Eucharist and feeding hungry mouths in America.  Instead, there are a number of Catholic people in America who use the Eucharist as a weapon against Catholic politicians.  There are a number of Catholic people in America who demean Pope Francis for his regulation of the Missal of Pope John XXIII, “The Extraordinary Form” of the Latin Mass.  Did you know that these types of discussions are peculiar to American Catholics, which now include masks and vaccinations?    

Today, the scriptures are clear:  “Feed me, God, feed me,” yet we continue to discuss old liturgy books and “gotcha” politics. 

My friend, Alberta, is no longer with us today.  But after her confirmation and first Holy Communion, Alberta lived the Vatican II Liturgy:  she jumped into the faith feet first in a full, conscious and active participation.  She greeted people at the door.  She was commissioned as a Eucharistic minister.  She professed her oblation at the abbey and pondered the daily scriptures in her lectio. She studied the lives of the saints because she found similar stories in their lives.  Alberta needed to be fed by God and by God she was fed!

 In the words of St. Paul,  “I…urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.”  Christians, let alone Catholics, do not allow politics to divide the Body of Christ.  People of faith do not allow an old Latin liturgy to break the bond of peace.  

In the words of the psalmist, “The hand of the Lord feeds us, God answers all our needs” if we just stop the nonsense.  

The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.

The 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

But for this Hour

Listen to the Gospel and Homily on my new podcast!


Once upon a time, Mrs. Migilacutty is preparing lunch.  All of a sudden, she hears a knock at the door.  She ignores the intrusion.  A second knock ensues and she gets frustrated.  Answering the door she sees a young salesman selling a vacuum cleaner.  “Good morning, ma’am,” he says, “do you need a new vacuum cleaner?’’ “No, thank you,” she responds irritatingly, and she proceeds to slam the door shut.  Just then, the young man slides his foot forward to wedge the door open.  He whips out a bag of cow manure and dumps it on the front hall rug.  “Sorry about that.  But I want to show you how good the vacuum machine works. If it does not pick up everything, I will get down on my knees and clean it up with my hands,” he declares.  “Well,” she says, “you better start now, because the electricity’s out.” 

         In the words of Benedictine Sister Verna Holyhead, “If God is not in the interruptions, then where do we find God?” 

        Jesus the Shepherd sends the Twelve out on mission.  He commissions them to the do the same ministry:  preach, teach, raise the dead, heal the sick and cast out evil.  He inspires them to join him in the inauguration of the kingdom of God.  When they return they report all they had done and taught. But in the middle of their reporting, there are these intrusions, these interruptions.  Sometimes they cannot even eat.

         “If God is not in the interruptions, then where do we find God?”

         A good leader, brothers and sisters, allows interruptions because somewhere someone is in need of mercy, that “gut wrenching womb love,” according to Sister Verna.         

         To illustrate, after St. Damien of Molokai’i contracted leprosy, he asked Mother Marianne Cope to take over his ministry in Hawaii.  Now, we would think that working with any deadly contagious disease would make us think twice about the ministry of compassion.  Instead, when the Franciscan sisters arrive Alice Camille tells us that they exclaim:  “How much good there is to do here.”

         Another illustration… Franciscan friar and scholarly theologian, St. Bonaventure was the major superior of the Order of Friars Minor.  One day he visits a monastery and a friar desires to speak with him.  But the friar is so shy that he misses his chances to speak privately with the great theologian and soon to be Cardinal-Bishop.  Finally, as Bonaventure makes his way down the road, the friar interrupts his travel and asks for an audience with his superior.  Bonaventure stops and spends a great deal of time listening and responding to his fellow friar much to the chagrin of his traveling companions. 

         What is the sign of a good shepherd?  A good leader is aware that faithfulness is a balance between finding God in the interruptions of daily life, and, finding God in the quiet.

         Everyday we come to an “out-of-the-way-place” [chapel, church, bench, park, secluded spot] where Christ interrupts our schedule.  In the words of Walt Whitman, “Happiness is not in another place, but thisplace…it is not for another hour, but for this hour.                    

The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.

16th Sunday Ordinary Time

That Excess Baggage

Brothers and sisters, we preach the Gospel better when we get rid of our baggage.

         We begin with the prophet Amos.  Amos lives in the land of Judah.  He dresses sycamore trees- he is a tree gardener. And, he shepherds sheep.  I am not quite sure how lucrative he is farming trees and shepherding sheep, but he leaves all of these tasks behind to go and preach the Word of God in the northern kingdom.  Why?  He is disturbed when he hears that many of the Israelites in the northern kingdom are setting up their own worship centers.  Many are falling away from the worship of the one true God.  The Mosaic Law directs them to feed the hungry, take care of the poor, the blind and the lame.  But the rich get richer, and, the poor get poorer.  

         Then we have the Twelve. Jesus calls them together and gives them strict instructions:  go out and preach.  Take nothing for the journey. Don’t pack a bag.  Don’t make a lunch.  Leave the wallet at home.  Take only a walking stick and make sure you wear good walking shoes.  The Twelve are not to worry about food, shelter or clothing.  If peaceable people hear the message, they will welcome you into their homes and their communities.  They will take care of you.  

         Ever wonder why Jesus forbids a wallet, extra clothes, and food for the journey?  Many reasons, probably, but I can think of two.  For one, when we travel with nothing, there is nothing to rob if we are stopped on the road. Secondly, the best way “to reconnoiter” peaceable people interested in the Gospel is to accept their offers of hospitality of home and hearth.  This is when true sharing of Gospel values takes place:  I share with you words of God’s grace.  You share with me your gifts of food and shelter.

Brothers and sisters, we do not travel the dirt roads to preach the Gospel, but we do travel monastery hallways.  We do not go out to the byroads and the truck stops, but we do dine in the bistro and in the main dining room.  We roam the long hallways of the Villa to visit, socialize, workout, dine, exercise and celebrate the Eucharist.  How do we share Christ when we visit these places?  Or, in other words, what kind of baggage prevents us from sharing Christ?  What about the juicy gossip we cannot wait to spread?  Or, that grudge we carry?  That pain in the neck that lives next to us, or, with us?  That CNA who has an accent?  That person of a different skin color, a different political party, a different sexuality, or gender, or speech pattern?  You know, and I know, the baggage list is endless.  If we want to go deeper with Christ and dust off ourselves from inhospitable people, then we need to manage better our own baggage. 

         In the words of St. Paul, Almighty God chooses us because we are in Christ.  He chooses us to be, #1.  Holy, and, #2. Without blemish (that is, without a black spot on our soul). Brothers and sisters, we live the Gospel better when we manage our baggage.  Today, then, may we practice what we pray!

Fr. Becket, O.S.B.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B

The Divine Message Speaker

Every community needs someone to speak a divine message.  That person is a prophet.

         Ancient Israel depended upon the prophet, or, in another word, the “seer.”  Everyone believed that among the people lived specially graced people who spoke for God.  You recognized this prophet by the prophetic mantle they wore over the head and fell upon their shoulders.  There existed court prophets and guild prophets who learned from the great prophets, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Joel, and Hosea. Many times God himself called them, “Son of Man,” an important term that set aside these people for a divine purpose.  These prophets always began their messages with the preface, “Thus says the Lord God…” 

         Jesus himself claims to be this type of prophet.

         In an article on this Gospel, Larry Broding says,  “Jesus goes home but he wasn’t at home.”  “In spite of his powerful teaching, his family and old friends met him with skepticism. “…[N]otice Jesus referred to himself in the third person as a “prophet,” while those in Nazareth insisted on calling him a “carpenter”). But, he was no longer what people of Nazareth expected him to be. So, he could not lead family and old friends to faith in God through his miracles, simply because they did not trust him. Any acts of “power” would be futile. So, he went back out on the road to serve the surrounding villages.  Jesus came home, but he wasn’t at home.”[1]

         Every community needs someone to speak a divine message but is this person ready for rejection and apathy?

         Even St. Paul struggles to be that prophet to his beloved Corinthian community.  Paul experiences the fullness of God’s grace.  Grace brings him heavenly messages and divine visions, including the vision of Crucified Risen Christ.  But it is grace that he needs when he experiences the other end of the spectrum, a “thorn in the flesh.”  Never does he name this thorn but at times the Corinthians are critical of Paul’s weakness.  Three times Paul asks the lord to remove this thorn and in the end Paul realizes that God wants him to find grace in weakness and in his vulnerability. 

         What is the meaning for us today?  Well, we have a lot of people who believe they are prophetic because they speak against abortion, or the death penalty, or they speak up for religious freedom.  While I might speak a prophetic message who is the true prophet among us Christians?  Thus says the Lord God, “When my grace is sufficient for you in times of weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, then you will know the task of the prophet.”

Fr. Becket, O.S.B.

[1] http://www.word-sunday.com/Files/b/14-b/A-14-b.html

Dorothy Day, Servant of God and Oblate of St. Benedict

God Does Not Create Death

Old cemeteries with the names of famous tombstones fascinate me.  Creative tombstones fascinate me. I find tombstone writing to be an art.  For example, 

  • In a Thurmont, Maryland cemetery a stone reads: Here lies an atheistall dressed up and no place to go. 
  • In a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, cemetery the stone says:  Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake, stepped on the gas instead of the brake. 
  • In a cemetery in Hartscombe, England there is an inscription:  On the 22nd of June, Jonathan Fiddle went out of tune. 
  • On a grave from the 1880s in Nantucket, Massachusetts they wrote:  Under the sod and under the trees lies the body of Jonathan Pease. He is not here, there’s only the pod. Pease shelled out and went to God.

         When it is my time to join the Communion of Saints, I want to meet the writer of the Book of Wisdom.  I find within this person’s writing deep insights into human nature and its interaction with the divine.  Today this writer sums up our entire Sunday reflection:  God did NOT make death… God does not create death.  God does not create sin.  God does not create sickness and catastrophic illness or disasters.  The Book of Wisdom sums up the Book of Genesis by recalling how good God finds all of creation.  Everyone and everything is wholesome!  

         So, where do death and disease and sin and catastrophe come from?  We begin with free will.  Rather than obeying the Almighty, the archangel Satan and his heavenly armies choose the alternative:  their own wills.  They lose heaven.  Rather than following God’s directives in the Garden of Eternal Life, Adam and Eve listen to the lies of the Evil One, for they desire to be like God.  They lose Paradise and with it eternal life.  These are the beginnings of sin and death in the world.

         That is…until the mission and ministry of Jesus appears.  Wherever Jesus goes, whatever Jesus does, whenever Jesus speaks, he always speaks life-giving-words with life-giving-deeds.  The receivers require one important ingredient:  faith.  Jairus needs a healing for his daughter and he falls at Jesus’s feet.  The hemorrhaging woman hears about Jesus and goes looking for him only to approach the Lord from behind.  In both these cases, Jesus assumes an active role in eradicating death and disease.  In fact, Jesus is so aware of the faith of the hemorrhaging woman that when she touches his clothes, Jesus reels around in the crowd because he feels healing power go out from him. 

         God does not make death and we need to make sure that we are not in the company of the devil.  When we war against one another we belong to his company.  When we choose our own will and refuse to give into God’s changing grace, we belong to his company.  To be trite, but true, God does not create garbage.  Our job is to make sure that our tombstones do not read:  “They chose to climb back into the garbage can.” 


One of the Memorial Pools at the 911Memorial

Sometimes, It’s Just a Boat.

In a commentary on today’s Gospel, Dr. Karoline Lewis of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, writes, “Sometimes, it’s just a boat.”[1]  We like to spiritualize being in the boat with Jesus.  Or, we say, “We’re all in the same boat.”  But what if we say, “Sometimes, it’s just a boat,” and, Jesus wants us to cross to the other side.  Ah, now we begin a conversation.  Jesus wants us to cross to the other side, of the debate, of the hot topic, to the other side called “change.”

         We begin with the Book of Job. With Job we have the eternal questions of suffering:  who, when, where, how and WHY? Job invites the Almighty into the discussion.  God responds by asking, “Where were you when I bounded up the sea, formed the wisp of clouds and tied up the darkness?”

         In other words, “Let us cross to the other side,” and see God’s point of view.

         When Jesus, the disciples and the other boats arrive at the other side, do we remember what is on the other side of the Sea of Galilee?  It is the territory of the Gerasenes: the pagan territory, the place of the tombs with demons whose name is Legion.  Jesus knows this and prepares his followers for the challenge of the Gospel, the confronting of the demonic.  

         If we know the danger on the other side, we probably would not sail.  Some of us refuse the trip.  We do not like the seat number.  We want a better cushion, or a nice window seat.  Like the disciples, we fear the storm.  Instead of managing our phobias, instead of managing the boat, we angrily ask the Lord, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  Jesus responds somewhat harshly and says, “Be quiet, shut up!” 

         As I write this homily, I worry deeply about our American Catholic Church and the storms we are “self-creating.”  Many of our leaders are more concerned about who receives Holy Communion than those who lost everything in the pandemic. When bishops sail into political cultural wars they enter into dangerous squalls that will ultimately drown them and all in the boat with them.  According to the Vatican, living life differently means moving beyond a single issue and also consulting other bishops of other countries. 

In a commentary on crossing of the sea, Bruce Writer suggests that Jesus does not look for superheroes in times of crisis.[2]  Jesus wants us to manage our fear of the storms.  After he calms the squall, Jesus asks them, “Why are you such cowards?”  Instead of panic and cowardice asking Jesus if he cares, a better scene is to wake Jesus and ask for advice awaiting his help. All of this takes place in the boat that brings us to the unknown, to the unseen and surprising other side.

         In the words of St. Paul, “…the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

         “Sometimes, it’s just a boat.”

Fr. Becket, O.S.B.

20 June 2021

The Summer Solstice

[1] https://www.workingpreacher.org/dear-working-preacher/the-other-side

[2] https://brucewriter.com/is-jesus-calling-us-to-be-superheroes-mark-4/

Where’s the Fruit?

My rosemary and basil plants are thriving.  My bee balm plants are chest high and flowering for hummingbirds.  The Orioles love the flowers of our tulip trees.  Abbot Hugh’s vegetable garden provides us with bushels of lettuce and onions and good fruit.  The other day I count thirty-three tomato plants in Abbot Hugh’s garden.  And our mighty oaks on the abbey property provide cool shade for God’s creatures.    

         Herbs season, trees shade, and gardens bloom.  So-must-we-do-the-same.

         How does God season and shade?  It is through prophets.  They inspire the people.  They envision what society can be like as they follow God.  The kingdom of Judah is like a crest of the cedar that is snipped from the top of this ancient tree.  This tender shoot grows roots and is planted on the top of the mountain.  There it grows strong.

         How does Jesus season and shade?  It is through parables.  Jesus uses two images for the kingdom of God.  The reign of God is like seeds scattered everywhere.  We never know where the seed lands.  But when it lands, it finds fertile soil.  It grows and grows bearing fruit until harvest time.  The kingdom is also like the smallest of seeds.  When it grows it becomes the largest of trees with large branches.  There birds of every sort dwell in its shade.  

         As Christians, what are we learning about ourselves as we emerge from a pandemic?  It is reported that there are over 3,000 cases of some type of violence over mandatory mask wearing in our airports and on our planes.  Some of us have inflicted violence upon others for pandemic rules and regulations.  As we take off our masks and get closer to one another in chapel, what does God teach us today about ourselves?  For the last fifteen months, I learned that my impatience leads me to be critical of some of my fellow monks.  Herbs season, trees shade and gardens bloom.  I have not been bearing fruit in the kingdom of God.  

         St. Paul says that if we really walk by faith, we will aspire to please God.  One day we will have to give an accounting of our lives, good and evil.  If we wonder if we truly belong to the kingdom of God we ought to ask ourselves, “Do I bear fruit?” We never know how or where we sow seed in the world.  So I ought to always speak a good word.  Instead of throwing negative shade on you, I need to learn from the oak trees on my property—they always provide good shade.  When I am tempted to season a conversation or a relationship with vinegar, I remember the words of Jesus to be salt and good seasoning for the kingdom.

         Creation teaches us how to live in the kingdom of God. Herbs season, trees shade, and gardens bloom.  May I too grow as seed that bears much fruit for the kingdom!

The 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B


is messy.  

If you do not like when I throw holy water, be glad you do not worship with Moses.  In ancient Israelite worship, Moses tosses bowls of blood on the altar and sprinkles the people with the rest of the bulls’ blood.  If you do not like when I use incense, be glad that you do not worship at the temple in Jerusalem.  To cover up the smell of butchered animals the priests burn incense.  Incense was also a symbol of the peoples’ prayers arising to heaven, and they burn a lot of it.  Sacrifice is messy.          

For Christians, the Mosaic sacrifice prefigures the Crucifixion of Christ.  Face beaten.  Person mocked. Back whipped.  Head crowned with thorns.  Hands and feet nailed.  The person hanged.  He bled.  He suffocated.  He died.  The crucifixion was messy.  

Sacrifice is messy.

On the night before he dies, Jesus invites us to join HIS sacrifice.  According to St. Mark, as they celebrate the Passover something else happens. Jesus takes bread.  As he breaks the loaf into parts, he says, “This, my body.”  Jesus does not say, “This, my flesh,” like in St. John’s Gospel.  Literally, Jesus says to his Church, “Take it, my whole being.”  We do not get a fragment.  We do not get to know only the mind of Christ.  Nor do we get just the words of Christ.  If we want communion, we must take the whole Christ, including his wounds.  Now-we-are-talking-sacrifice!

Growing up Catholic and Christian, my parents and my teachers teach me about sacrifice.  They teach me to know the difference between offering up the little things that bother me and offering up the big things that need to be confronted and changed.  When the menu at the abbey reads “Meatloaf for dinner,” I can offer that up since I do not like meatloaf.  But when I read in the newspapers that many Americans are food insecure, I offer up my own security to speak out and act. Why?  I must make sure that we do not add to the wounds of Christ.  Sacrifice is messy but we need to make sure we do not add to that messiness.

Today, CORPUS CHRISTI, Christ invites us into his sacrifice.  A few months ago, a FACEBOOK friend of mine who follows Mass online, tells me that he can hear loudly and clearly the words, “THE BODY OF CHRIST,” as we move around to distribute Holy Communion.  Not only are we presenting to you the sacrament, we are also telling you, YOU ALSO ARE THAT SACRAMENT.

Fr. Becket, O.S.B.

The Body & Blood of Christ

Cycle B

The Reality of a God who Provides Everything We Need.

In the words of the pastoral theologian, Alice Camille:  “How do we go about celebrating the Most Holy Trinity?”  We begin, she says, by acknowledging the “God who is relentlessly what we need, when we need it…” Allow me to unpack this idea.

In ancient times people believed that the Divine spoke through natural elements- earth, wind and fire.  The mountains quaked.  God spoke.  The mighty wind resounded over sea and land.  God spoke.  The fire flared and exploded.  God spoke.  Abraham sacrificed and God blessed him.  Moses stood on Mt. Sinai and he and God spoke in the midst of lightning and thunder.  Elijah stood at the entrance of the cave and hears the whispering sound of God’s voice.  These natural occurrences stood as symbols of the Deity to ancient societies.  For them, this mighty God existed and wanted a deep relationship with them.

Relationship is what God hands on to us in the person of Jesus Christ.  Already by the time of the Resurrection, the early disciples experience the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  To belong to this same Church, you and I must profess faith in the depths of the water in the name of the Trinity.  Every time we say grace, every time we pray, every time we begin the Eucharist, we begin in the name of the Trinity.  

Therefore, there is a question:  to whom do we pray the most?  Imagination in prayer is very important.  In my prayer, there are a few ways I imagine and experience the Trinity.  To illustrate- God the Father is not a male image for me.  When my prayers are deep and extremely serious, I imagine myself before the throne of an awesome and mighty being.  I come into the presence of this mighty power and I pray.  When I need a behavioral answer, I pray that I might have the mind of Christ in my ministry.  Then I try to act according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When I behold gentleness, kindness, love, peace and community, I enter into the movement of the Holy Spirit.  And when I mourn or when I am unable to pray because a problem is so deep, I allow my spirit to pray in the Holy Spirit.  This is how I believe I enter into the “God who is relentlessly what we need, when we need it…”

I bet you have an imagination and experiences of God as I do. “So,” Alice Camille continues,” we should just celebrate the reality of a God who provides everything we need.  “Like Moses said, there is no other besides our God:  no power or genie, good luck charm or superhero…out there that is going to save us from the consequences of our actions or human history altogether except God.”  “[I]f you’re looking for an answer, no matter what the question is, the answer is God.  There is no other .”

The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.

Most Holy Trinity


The Trinity, by Rublev (picture of icon by Fr. Becket)

The Right State of Mind Possessing God

“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Alleluia!”


         During the fifty days of Easter at the weekday masses, the scriptures tell us about the formation of The Church.  Today, the scriptures tell us how to take hold of the Holy Spirit so that we continue to be church.   

         I want to begin by quoting a Dominican theologian and mystic of the 1300s, Meister Eckhart.  Meister Eckhart preached in his native language in the 1300s and some of his mysticism and theology was very poetic.  This is entitled, “Why Church?”  

You may ask,

“Is church the best place

for me to find God?”

And I will tell you–you are either

in the right state of mind,

possessing God,

or you aren’t.

And if you aren’t,

God help you,

but not necessarily church.[1]

         On that day of Pentecost, notice the church- the People of God- gather in one place.  The real meaning of the word, church, is “gathering.”  They pray together.  They eat their meals in common.  They understand each other’s languages.  And as they take hold of the Holy Spirit, a phenomenon takes place. God grants them the gifts of the Spirit for the benefit of the community.  Nevertheless, the early apostles like St. Paul, are not naïve.  It is easy to fall out of the spirit, and in the words of Meister Eckhart, we can easily lose the right state of mind in possessing God.  

         Take for example, the Galatian communities.  Jew and Gentile, fiercely ethnic, and quite religious, St. Paul personally writes to the Galatians lecturing them about the movement of the Holy Spirit.  To the Jewish Christians, Paul tells them that the Law of Moses cannot save them.  To the Gentiles, Paul says that just because you are baptized does not give you free license for the works of the flesh.  None of those things above bring us into the kingdom of God.  So, what does?  How do we know that we follow the Spirit of God, and how do we know that we are really CHURCH?  Here is the checklist:










(against such there is no law, no regulation, no edict, no ruling, and no directive.)   

That, brothers and sisters, is how we live in the Spirit.  This list above is how we take hold of the Spirit.  This is how God transforms the world.  

You may ask,

“Is church the best place

for me to find God?”

And I will tell you–you are either

in the right state of mind,

possessing God,

or you aren’t.

And if you aren’t,

God help you,

but not necessarily church.

[1] Sweeney, Jon M., & Burrows, Mark S.  Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart:  Meditations for the Restless Soul.  Charlottesville, VA:  Hampton Roads Publishing Co., 2017, p. 95.

Fr. Becket, O.S.B.

Pentecost Sunday


The Church is the barque of Christ
Duke Divinity School