Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Echoes of the Word 11th July 2016

St Benedict's Day

Gospel, Matthew 19:27-29

Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘What about us?’ he said. ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.’

Reflection on Matthew 19:27-29

For years, the choice of this gospel for St Benedict’s Day puzzled me. Peter’s question: “What about us… What are we to have, then?” seems so impertinent, so self-serving. The last thing I thought when I asked to join the monastery was: “What’s in it for me?” Peter’s question, though, is not so simplistic. Jesus has just encountered the rich young man, who has gone away disappointed, and given his radical teaching on how hard it is to enter the kingdom. Hearing this, Peter asks desperately: “What about us?” But it is what follows which makes the difference: “We have left everything and followed you.” Peter and the others have already been drawn to Jesus. Their desire to be with him, to be his disciples, has already led them to leave everything and follow the Lord. That deep desire for discipleship has already shaped their lives, and justifies Peter’s question about the future. And it is that same desire which Benedict himself echoes in his Prologue: “Is there anyone here who longs for life? If your answer is “I do” [then] see how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life” (cf. Prol: 15-21). It is that desire for God, and God alone, which leads to the hundred-fold reward and the gift of eternal life. 

Fr Oswald McBride OSB

Planting the Seed of Monastic Life

The feast of St Benedict brings to mind the experience of trying to plant the seed of monastic life in a soil so different to Subiaco or Ampleforth. The beauty of monasticism is that it has an amazing capacity to take root in diverse cultures. How could it fail to do so since St Benedict asks a question fundamental to the human heart? ‘Is there anyone here who yearns for life?’ Who could fail to answer ‘I do’ and so take the journey of transformation into Christ, into eternity? The adventure of planting Benedictine monasticism in the rich soil of Zimbabwe has been a great challenge requiring immense, patience. It has taught our small community that we are called to fidelity in our search for God, in our commitment to prayer, lectio, and mutual support. We yearn for life and we try to give life through a community rooted in God. We journey in faith listening with the ear of our hearts, willingness to risk, making many mistakes, while having total trust in God. Planting the seed of monastic life is tough, as it was for Benedict, but preferring nothing to Christ we respond to the invitation to reach out for eternal life. 

To find out more about our monastery in Zimbabwe click here.

Fr Robert Igo OSB, Prior Zimbabwe