Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The kingdom of heaven is near (Matthew 10:7)
“Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:6)
It’s no exaggeration to say that St. Benedict (480–547), whose feast we celebrate today, changed the course of history. At a time when Western society was falling apart, the monasteries that followed his rule became oases of stability and hope. People were attracted by the monks’ peaceful presence, and many decided to move to be closer to them. In some cases, whole towns sprang up around these centers of prayer.
Benedict and his followers have much in common with the twelve disciples in today’s Gospel reading. Jesus sent these men into the towns around Galilee to “get their hands dirty,” not just to talk. Just as Benedictines commit themselves to a life of prayer and work, so Jesus called the apostles to heal the sick, cast out demons, and cleanse lepers. They needed to be men of prayer, but their prayer was meant to empower them to do the work of the kingdom.
Most of us may not be monks, but we can still bring God’s presence into our environments as the early Benedictines did. Our kitchens, our workplaces, even our minivans can become “monasteries,” oases of peace and stability—even if they are filled with the bustle of activity! They can be places where the gospel is lived, where people sense God’s peace and acceptance, and where hearts are drawn to the Lord. It may sound simplistic, but it is still true: our prayerful presence is infectious.
The heart of Benedict’s way of life, and the heart of Jesus’ teaching to his apostles, lies in the priorities they both established. Before anything else, they call all of us to get closer to our Father. They call us to sink deep roots in the soil of the kingdom so that we will be able to bear fruit that will last. Today, Jesus is inviting you to find a quiet time and space to be with him. He is inviting you to contemplate his word and receive more from his Spirit. That way, you can sanctify any place you find yourself.
“Lord, come to me in the silence of my heart and teach me your ways. I want my whole life to proclaim your great and glorious news: The kingdom of heaven is at hand!”