Homily for the Feast of St. Benedict

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By: Sister Bridget Dickason, OSB | March 22, 2021

(Pv. 2:1-9; Ps. 16:1-2, 5, 7-8; Eph. 6:10-13, 18; Mt. 19:27-29)

Happy Feast!  As we celebrate the passing of St. Benedict today, I think of Sisters Jeremy, Alice, Agnes, Lucille, Ann, Irmina, Cyprian and Mary Ann. Like the feast of St. Benedict, the mass of resurrection for their passing has been delayed; like many things this year that have been delayed, cancelled or postponed.  Yet the readings today are reminders that this too will pass, better days will come, trust in God; we will have battles, but eternal life will be our reward.

The wisdom literature of Proverbs in the first reading is subtitled “Blessing of Wisdom.” We need wisdom these days. St. Benedict used the Book of Proverbs a lot in his Prologue calling all who desire to seek good days to follow his Rule. Like Benedict and all the sisters who have gone before us, we “seek good days.” We all joined this community to seek God, to be blessed by his wisdom, and to show God’s love and mercy to those we live with and serve.

The responsorial psalm, Ps. 16, is titled “God of Supreme Good.” Now that sounds reassuring. God is “my refuge,” “my only good.” He “allots my portion” and “my destiny is secure.” God is with me always and “I will not be shaken.” Trust in God and each other is what has gotten us this far in the pandemic.  It doesn’t matter how long it takes.  We will get through it together.

Ephesians is my favorite letter. However, I was not happy when I read the sub-title “Battle against Evil.” Yet that is what we are in- whether it be against the pandemic, racism, political tensions, or health issues.  The images of battle were very real on January 6th in D.C. Ephesians tells us to “draw our strength from God,” “put on the armor of God to protect us” against “principalities, powers, world rulers of this present darkness,” and “evil spirits in the heavens.” How do we “hold our ground” against such pervasive evil-prayer and supplication, the word of God, being watchful for the holy ones and perseverance. Yes, that grace of holy perseverance.

And then comes St. Matthew’s gospel, the parable of the “Rich Young Man.” We only get the last three verses, a short dialogue between Peter and Jesus. Verse 27, Peter says, we have given up everything. What will we get? Jesus responds in verses 28-29, you will be seated on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes, an image of power, plus, you will receive 100 fold and inherit eternal life. Sounds like a pretty good deal. My sisters used to tease me that I took a vow of poverty and they got to live it. I am rich in their eyes and it causes me to take note of all the blessings I have received, even during this pandemic. I am safe. I am well fed. And although I have lived in six different rooms since I have been home, I have a roof over my head. I have had time to reconnect with the earth and our beautiful grounds. I was given the opportunity to serve our sisters in Dooley Center during this difficult time and we gave each other life and hope. I have had time to see the “holy ones.” Not just in the cemetery, but in the chapels and halls of our monastery. And although the resurrection masses are on hold, I’d bet 100 dollars that Ann and all our sisters who have passed were celebrating with Saints Patrick, Joseph and Benedict in heaven this past week. And we will too someday. Meanwhile, we seek God, trust God, endure the battles of this life through prayer, be grateful for what we have, and persevere together until our passing time comes.