Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor
Not to get too personal, but I cannot help but be reminded that eight years ago today, the Memorial of the abbot and doctor of Clairvaux, Saint Bernard, is the day I entered the Jesuit novitiate. And I give humble thanks to God for the rich blessings He has bestowed on me my whole life through, and especially these last years.
On the more difficult days of living the evangelical counsels, that is, my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, I feel a bit like Peter in today’s passage from Matthew’s gospel:
We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?
Speaking for the other disciples, Peter’s question is raw, honest, and understandably human. He’s essentially saying, “Come on, Lord! We’ve done what the young man, who had many possessions, seemingly couldn’t do! We’ve left it behind … all of it, all of them … to follow you. What’s in it for us?”
Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
The truth is, personal sacrifices for the sake of Christ are not only asked of Jesuit scholastics but of all the baptized in whatsoever “state” of life (i.e., marriage, single life, divorced life, widowhood, priesthood, consecrated life, youth, advanced age, health, infirmity, and so on).
Perhaps our prayer today might be, after a few deep breaths:
Lord … what great things in store for me today? How can I look upon them with gratitude, seeing all things as gift, even the things that sting and make me uncomfortable? Be with me, Lord, as I know you have been my whole life through.