Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Echoes of the Word 21st March 2017

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.’

St Benedict's Day            Commentary on Matthew 19:27-29

Peter – blunt and to the point – asks a question one is glad to have asked; but by someone else. In this it resembles Thomas’ understandable: “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Peter’s understandable anxiety about the risk he and the others have taken in following Jesus reminds us to be real in our relationship with Christ. We are not disembodied angels – and so our material concerns – for food, shelter, work, do matter and cannot be dismissed. Interestingly, Jesus does not scold Peter for his question, but takes the opportunity to explain how the costs of seeking to follow him wholeheartedly are more than ‘covered’ by God’s generous providential designs. Of course - and St Benedict would naturally agree – the issue is whether we are content to trust in God enough to allow our perfectly natural concerns to fall under that overshadowing care of God. We tend to hanker for tangible recompense here and now. But it was not so for the Apostles or for Benedict. And in following them – and so in following Christ – emerges a more sure (if hidden) path than we could devise for ourselves. 

Fr Philip Rozario OSB

St Benedict

Keeping the feast days of the saints originated from the early Christian custom to commemorate each martyr annually on the date of death, or birth into heaven. In celebrating the Feast of St Benedict on 21 March, the Passing of St Benedict, we are reminded of his death, his passing from earthly life to heavenly life. In Book Two of “The Dialogues” of Pope St Gregory the Great, there is a description of St Benedict’s immediate preparation for his death. Six days before he died, he asked for the opening of his tomb. On the day of his death, his monks carried him into the oratory, where he received Holy Communion, and as they supported his weak body, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and died. In his Rule, he advised: “day by day remind yourself that you are going to die”. During Lent, during our reflections on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, we may also reflect on how we keep death before our eyes, and ask St Benedict to pray, with us, that the Lord may bring us all together to everlasting life.

Fr George Corrie OSB