Wednesday, February 10, 2010

St. Scholastica, virgin

(I Kings 10:1-10; Mark 7:14-23)

There is a charming story about St. Scholastica which illustrates the assertion of Jesus about over-concern with the law in the gospel today. Scholastica used to meet with her twin brother, the venerable St. Benedict, once a year in a little house outside the famous Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino. On one of these occasions when both were very old, they were having such a wonderful conversation that Scholastica wanted to stay there talking through the night. Benedict resisted, however, because of his own monastic rule. Then the heavens opened with a tremendous rainstorm forcing Benedict to concede to his sister’s wish. The downpour seemed to manifest God’s will that the siblings have this extra time together before they died.

Like Scholastica’s intuition that it would be all right for her brother to spend long hours in conversation with her, Jesus in the gospel judges it possible to eat non-kosher foods. Doing so, he invites non-Jews as well as Jews into his Father’s Kingdom. We can add that it is permissible, perhaps even necessary, to suspend laws and regulations at times to realize a greater good. A simple example is absenting oneself from Sunday mass because of sickness. Of course, good judgment in these cases requires prudence. Without such virtue selfishness, and not desire to realize a clearly greater good, may direct our action.