Proverbs 2: 1 – 9. Acts 2: 42 – 47. Matthew 19: 27-29
We are full of joy today on this great solemnity of our Father Benedict. Because we are so totally grateful for the Rule that is a gift to us that keeps on giving. This incredible life with God in Christ, a way of life so full of grace and truth, peace and joy. We are indeed delighted to call him our Father Benedict.
We are so thankful to Fr. Mark for giving us wonderful insights into the Rule. The Rule is full of grace and power. So much so that through the ages it has had such a great impact on Church life, Monastic life and developing religious life these past 1500 years. So on this feast of Benedict how do we honor him but to hold on to his gift and celebrate what he has given to each of us and the Church.
Benedict understood human nature so well, he grasped knowingly our needs and how to provide for each monk. He gave us the clear example of a life of prayer and dedication to the Will of God and how to live the life in the Spirit. His Rule is a masterpiece of instructions and scripture with a brevity that tell us his clear vision and goals: A school in the Lord’s service.
So Benedict is the Father of Western Monasticism, and the Patron of Europe. Pope Benedict XVI thought St. Benedict was the hope for a renewed Continent and the world. So that all people can find the way forward in a very difficult time, a world in turmoil to find the truth of God when God seems to no longer be the basis of man’s existence and whose values we live by.
So we keep looking to Benedict and the life he has invited us to live. A life centered on Christ.
And indeed, a true community life, a life for others in the way of Humility. Characterized by our loving kindness and faithfulness, as the very way God loves us. As we learn how to live the Rule he wrote that shapes a monastic life for the ages, we discover that each day calls us to grow in our faithfulness. And to seek charity and justice for every community member.
As we know, the 12 steps of humility in Chapter 7 of the Rule is the central component of this monastic life process. And of course, the hardest of all to learn and to live. But that’s the challenge and the gift of our life together. To pay personal attention to the needs of each brother. And in so doing forming that community of the very Body of Christ, the miniature Church, the Church of Mepkin. As we become servants of one another. The 12 Steps are the Cistercian ladder to heaven, to our holiness. That we heard at mass yesterday.
In all of this, Benedict shows us Christ, our model of humility, and a life that can be so redemptive. A life given for the Church and the world in true intercession seeking the transformation into the Kingdom.
The process of humility invites us into the human struggle to be emptied and come to the true self, centered in Christ. A necessary but not easy journey. That’s why we keep our eyes fixed on our crucified Christ.
Benedict in his great wisdom tells us from the first word of the Prologue to the last word of Chapter 73, to listen to the master’s instruction and attend to them with the ear of your heart. And you will reach the fullness of virtue.
Benedict’s words are echoed in our selection this morning in Proverbs 2: 1 – 9. It’s all about listening with the heart which says will bring you to the gifts of the Spirit. We know what that feels like and this calls us to ask: who am I today. We listen also to our community and ask: what are others saying to me, we listen to the Spirit within and ask: what are the stirrings in the depths of my being, what are my deepest needs? Listening with the heart brings us to Jesus.
Did we hear the promise of Jesus to his disciples? We will inherit all we desire when we give ourselves to God alone. WOW, please God yes.
There’s the challenge from Jesus, for every believer today on this great feast of our Father. To believe God’s word and live his word. Benedict did it and countless men and women after him. The greatest number of saints in the Church are sons and daughters of Benedict.
What did they all live and that we are all seeking to imitate: a life we heard described in Acts this morning: a life of community and all in praise of God. This is the Benedict Option, that we are aspiring to live and commend to the world. That love and justice for everyone. If only Benedict’s truth would be seen as an answer to the challenges we face today. Perhaps, we can be that model for others in our monastic life and reinvigorate others to choose Benedict’s values and just perhaps it can make a difference.
In a way, time feels like it’s running out. But we have Christ, so we have hope that we can make a difference that by our faithfulness and deep commitment, we can change the world.
Let us continue to pray for this possibility. After all, it’s the feast of St. Benedict. He stirs our hearts and we are his sons.