CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR SATURDAY OF THE 14TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: LIFE OF ST BENEDICT.
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: *Is 6 : 1 – 8, Matt 10 : 24 – 33
Permit me to talk to you briefly today about my patron saint, Benedict of Nursia in Umbria, Italy.
He was born of noble parents in 480 AD. The corrupt life of his fellow University students in Rome challenged him to seek salvation as a hermit. He went into a hidden cave in Subiaca ; sometimes a raven brought him food. He advanced in spirituality – He saw the core of the Christian life as the cross and began to direct souls and win a lot of disciples (over 140 young men). He built schools for Christian education to the envious hostility of other monks in the neighborhood. One of the fathers of his pupil gave him a donation of a land at Monte Cassino where he established an Abbey which became the mother house of the Benedictine Order. He was later acknowledged as father of monasticism and patron saint of Europe for his contributions in the reclamation and reformation of Christian Europe.
RULES OF ST BENEDICT.
I want to summarize his rules which were aimed at the moral and spiritual training of the monks according to the evangelical counsels but later became the standard for all Western monasteries :
(a) Prayer ; When you begin something good, you must beg the Lord with unflagging prayer to bring it to completion.
(b) Tongue control ; If you desire to live a true and everlasting life ‘keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from deceit ; turn aside from all evil and do good ; seek and strive after peace always’.
(c) Rule for monks ;
(i) Charity ; Honour to one another, bear patiently their infirmities, mutual obedience, selflessness, charity for one another and the Abbot. * Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
(ii) Dignity in manual labour ; ‘Men must by labouring under obedience be brought back to God from whom they have drifted by the idleness of disobedience ‘. * Motto : ‘Ora et orare’ – work and pray. Concept of ‘Opus dei’ – God’s presence in our daily work in imitation of Jesus as a carpenter for 30 years. We are in an era when students in our secondary and tertiary colleges don’t want to work hard any more and resort to examination malpractice (EXPO) ; When University workers and civil servants are no longer keen at doing their jobs – students’ files and records in our offices keep missing because people cannot do the simple jobs they are being paid for without ‘sorting’ (taking bribes). Many Lecturers will not have the zeal to teach, read students’ projects and mark their papers . There is a general culture of laziness. Students’ hostels and toilets are left dirty because no one can volunteer to do the ugly job. We learn from St Benedict the spirit of hardwork and dignity in labour. Though he was not a priest, his order has given the Church no less than 24 popes, 4000 bishops and over 5000 saints . They became the intellectual power of the Church ; preserved the Greek and Roman classics through the Dark ages and organized the liturgical readings and prayers of the Church. They bequited invaluable services to humanity in the arts, science and agriculture.
St Benedict had a great power of miracles. Once, he raised a dead boy to life. He died in 21st of March 547 in his abbey church after receiving holy communion with his hands raised heaven ward. He was buried next to his sister St Scholastica (the founder of the Benedictine Nuns) in the oratory of St John the Baptist at Cassino.
We must learn from St Benedict what it means to be a hard man of God. Spiritual discipline is the hallmark of holiness. From today’s 1st reading, we learn the discipline of obedience to the Word of God and the discipline of purity. In the gospel we learn the discipline of detachment from parental and filial affiliations. May St Benedict inspire you as he has so much inspired me to work very hard for the love of Christ and his Church.
May God bless you today!