Feast of St Benedict Homily 11th July 2019
Proverbs 2:1-9; Responsorial Psalm 34:2-4, 12-15; Acts 2:42-47; Gospel Matthew 19:27-29
The older I get the more I am convinced that nothing happens in our lives randomly or by pure chance, even if at times it may seem so. There have been many things over these days that confirmed me in that view, but for me the most obvious thing has been the fact that all of here have been brought together to celebrate St Benedict’s feast with joy and thanksgiving, and that within that celebration we have been able to share the privilege of being present as Brother Martin takes the next step of his journey. This is surely not by chance. God is here indeed, in this place, at this time.
Many times over these days we have referred to the fact that the Rule is so soundly scripture based, so what do today’s scriptures have to say to us?
The reading from Acts is set in the context of the wondrous experience of the coming of the Spirit at the first Pentecost. In response to Peter’s great speech those newly baptized (three thousand the text notes) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers. They were together, praising God together, holding all things in common.
Benedict has also been telling us of the importance of being together, praying together, holding all things in common. He speaks of living as a community, united around the table and the altar.
The reading from Proverbs is part of the tradition of wisdom literature of the Old Testament. This genre is one that gives practical guidance for wise living…..My child if you accept my word…make
your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding… then you will walk the way of justice.
It is so obvious that this text is surely an inspiration for the opening of St Benedict’s Prologue…Listen my sons to the master’s instruction…attend with the ear of your heart…welcome the teaching… and put it into practice.
The gospel is a gospel without compromise, not just for those who live the monastic life, but for all of us who follow Jesus. This passage follows the gospel of the rich young man, who, good though he was, could not take the final step of leaving everything. That he could not do. But we as disciples have to do that, though in many different ways.
Benedict reminds those on the journey of monastic life that the promises the new monk makes, commit him not to keep back a single thing for himself, well aware that he no longer has even his own body at his own disposal. In whatever way we live out our Christian life as disciples, each of us here has to decide what we are called to leave behind, as we come to follow Jesus more and more closely.
And lastly what of the “hundredfold” that is promised to all those who follow Christ’s call to discipleship? I began to list the hundredfold opened up for me by the gospel itself, and the gospel way of life as Benedict teaches us. And perhaps you could do the same. But before very long I began to feel like St John, when at the end of his gospel, he says that if he wrote down all the things he wanted to say about Jesus there were not enough books to contain it all.
So perhaps the only words I can say at the end of this (and perhaps you can echo these words in your hearts for all we have been given) are the words of today’s psalm… “ I will bless the Lord at all times,” or just simply in another psalm phrase “I thank you Lord with all my heart,” for all the things in our lives that are not mere chance, but rather the hand of God’s love in our lives.