Memorial of Saint Benedict – July 11, 2018
Saint Margaret Mary – Wichita, KS
Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12; Psalm 103:2-7; Matthew 10:1-7
In our Gospel today, our Lord invests twelve men with the power to go out and cast out demons, to cure all diseases and illnesses. Surprisingly, he even hands over power to the one who will betray him. Think about that. Jesus hands over power even to those who will betray him.
The power to help—in this case the power to drive out unclean spirits and cure diseases—is often given to the people we least expect. For instance, when we ask for help in prayer, sometimes the help is given, but in a way we don’t expect, through a person we don’t expect or recognize as God answering our prayer.
But that’s precisely how the Lord works. He sends out a rag-tag group of guys to make that great announcement that the Kingdom of God has come, to cure the sick, to cast out unclean spirits. The Lord sends out people we don’t necessarily expect to help us in our need, to be the answer to our prayers for his help. He even sends us, often without us even realizing it at the time, to help others in need.
The way the Lord usually works is usually unexpected: the way we don’t expect him to work. His plan is not our plan, his ways are not our ways (c.f., Is. 55:8). And yet, while our plans will often fail, his plan—the design of his heart—will “stand forever” (c.f., Ps. 33:11).
This is how it was with Saint Benedict. Benedict came from a noble Roman family in the 5th century. But after attending a prestigious school he became horrified by the worldliness of his peers, so he left. He left and ended up living as a hermit under the direction of another hermit, named Romanus, in the mountains of Subiaco. He just wanted to live a quiet life of prayer and contemplation.
There was nothing special about him aside from his deep commitment to Jesus Christ and his pursuit of holiness. And yet, this is precisely what attracted others to him, and what led to him changing the world. By the age of seventy, when he died, Benedict had founded a monastery and written a “little rule” which went on to become the foundation of Western Monasticism as we know it. Over 1,500 years later, the impact of that one man lives on throughout the world.
Sometimes the Lord works through the people we least expect: through fishermen, through people who betray Him, through parents, friends, children, strangers—through a rag-tag group of people. And he wants to work through each of us: his disciples here on the south side of Wichita, no matter how small that may seem.
We can be sure that we are disposed to do this if we follow Benedict’s example. And as Pope Saint Gregory the Great tells us, the “secret” to Benedict’s impact was simply that “[he] possessed the spirit of one man only, the Savior, who fills the heart of the faithful” (c.f., Gregory the Great, The Dialogues, Book 2: Life of Benedict).