First Reading: 1 Hos 8:4-7, 11-13
Psalm: 115:3-4, 5-6, 7ab-8, 9-10
Gospel: Mt 9:32-38
All of us have gone through times when we were “called” by God. These calls may be mediated by a beggar, a needy friend, our children who want to be close to us, lonely old people, or even the Church. The church constantly needs people to work on its various projects. Whatever the call, we may have decided not to answer it because maybe we were too tired, had a tough week, or simply because we felt that we had no time to give. Whatever reasons we may have had, let us consider opening our hearts and minds and responding affirmatively the next time
we hear his call.
St. Benedict, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow, was a “cunning” saint. Living in the early sixth century, he noticed the moral decay in society and even in the existing monasteries, so he started reforming monasteries and eventually wrote the famous Rule of St. Benedict. This later became the norm for Western monasticism. Rather than promote excessive self-denial among monks, Benedict envisioned a community that balanced work and prayer (ora et labora) and sought to be a school of holiness rather than a group of individuals competing for holiness. He stressed interior conversion rather than external manifestations of piety.
In the middle ages, the monasteries became models of an alternative world ruled by the spirit of Christ. Where extreme social hierarchy ruled, the monasteries presented an ideal of social equality. When manual labor was derided, they affirmed the spiritual value of work. When culture and education was disintegrating, they maintained pockets of learning and civilization. Where violence ruled, they preached and lived in peace. The Benedictine monasteries challenged the prevailing values in the world, and we are called to do the same in our world.