Memorial of Saint Benedict, abbot
(Hosea 10:1-3.7-8.12; Matthew 10:1-7)
St. Benedict founded monasteries. He also was responsible for the “Rule of St. Benedict,” a description of the ideal monastic life. It might seem, then, that St. Benedict would be honored as a man who promoted retreat. His name, however, is associated with the evangelization of Europe. His legacy is similar to that of the apostles whom Jesus sends out to preach in today’s gospel.
Evangelization is a multi-faceted project. It is more than telling people about Jesus. Evangelization includes shaping a culture responsive to the gospel. For this to be done evangelizers must build churches and found schools. They have to influence government to allow the people to practice their faith. And they need to inculcate a sense of Christ being part of the people’s lives all day, every day. Benedictine monks have been carrying out these practices for fifteen centuries.
Many wonder if Christian evangelization has not come to an end. In this time of globalization societies are becoming more and more pluralistic. Moreover, young people in many western countries are abandoning their Christian heritage. Christian customs and traditions have lost a central place in much of Europe and North America. Yet Christian culture cannot be lost. It has Christ himself as its cornerstone. Furthermore, its supreme value of self-sacrificing love is the deepest desire of the human heart. We need other Benedicts to retrace the way.