July 15, 2005 – Solemnity of St. Benedict
Prov. 2,1-9; Matt. 19, 27-29
Abbey of O.L. of Praise, Buende, Uganda
H O M I L Y
Jesus had just met the young rich man to whom he had proposed a radical choice, that this one had not felt capable of making. Then, Jesus had explained to his disciples how difficult it was to enter the Kingdom of God, and the disciples had been impressed to the point of exclaiming: “Who, then, can be saved?” and Jesus had responded that for God “everything was possible”.
It was at that point that Peter asked the question: "Here we have put everything aside to follow you. What can we expect from it?" Jesus’ answer is twofold. First, he promises to those who followed him that they will share his authority over the whole people of Israel. Then, he extends this promise to “everyone who has given up home, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children or property for [his] sake”, assuring them that they will receive much more than what they left, and that they will inherit everlasting life.
In his response to Peter, Jesus reverses the order of priorities. Peter had said : “we have put everything aside to follow you”. Jesus, in his answer, takes up first of all the second aspect : “you who have followed me”; then he returns to the first one : “whoever has given up home, brothers or sisters, father or mother, etc.” A consequence of this is that what comes first, in our life as in that of the Disciples and the Apostles, is to follow Christ. It was indeed, in order to follow him that we have left everything, so that we could prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
If we follow Christ, it is in order to arrive with Him to the goal towards which He strives and where He wants to lead us. That goal is his Father, Whom we can reach through contemplative knowledge.
Already a few centuries before Christ, the Book of Proverbs outlined the conditions to fulfil in order to arrive at such knowledge. These conditions are listed in the first reading of today’s mass, in a conditional manner: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure my commands, turning your ear to wisdom, inclining your heart to understanding... Then will you understand the fear of the Lord; the knowledge of God you will find.”
While being careful no to have too many illusions about the absolute character of our own renunciation, we can say that all of us here present, have chosen to live according to the rule of saint Benedict, and that we have renounced many persons and many things. Most of all, we have renounced many dreams, some of which at least could have been realized. And already the promise of Jesus has been realized, since we have received much more than what we have renounced. That, however, is not the essential. What is essential is that not only will we inherit; but we already inherit eternal life, which consists in knowing God.
Let us strive to enter always more profoundly in that knowledge, which is communion and love; for it alone gives meaning to our life.