Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abb (11th July, 2017) on the Gospel and the Memorial
(Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time (I))
Ps 16:1-3.6-8.15. (R. v.15);
Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 – c. 547), twin brother of Saint Scholastica was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, and was drawn to the monastic life early in life. Some monks chose him as their leader, but were dissatisfied with his strictness. He built what became one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino. His rule for his monks is known as “Rule of Saint Benedict”. He is venerated in the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion and Old Catholic Churches. He is the patron saint of Europe and students, and the father of Western Monasticism.
Topic: Is Tongue a blessing or a curse?
Today’s gospel is comprised of two sections, the healing of a mute demoniac (Matt 9:32-34) and Jesus’ ministry in unnamed cities and villages (Matt 9:35-38). Our reflection will base on the first section in which one who had been mute spoke when Jesus cast out the demon. The crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.”
Although often taken for granted, this miracle is a reminder that the ability to speak is a gift from God. And there is need to appreciate every part and function of the body.
The capability of speech is beautifully captured in the book of Proverbs, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov 18:21). It can be applied for good or evil. We also read, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov 12:18). Again, “The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly” (Prov 15:2).
Prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary” (Is 50:4a). Hence, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver” (Prov 10:20).
The letter of Saint James reads, “And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell” (Jas 3:6).
God has blessed us with the ability to speak just like the person Jesus cured in today’s gospel. The problem is what we do with this gift. Saint Peter rightly admonished us, “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile” (1Pt 3:10; cf. Ps 34:12-13). And “He who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Prov 21:23). Saint James rightly noted how difficult it is to tame the tongue, however he also wrote, “If anyone thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain” (Jas 1:26; cf. Jas 3:8).
Saint Benedict admonishes all to do hearken to the words of the Psalmist, “I will take heed of my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I have set a guard to my mouth, I was dumb, and was humbled, and kept silence even from good things” (Ps 38:2-3).
Bible Reading: Jas 3:1-12.
Thought for today: The Holy Spirit ought to speak through us, cf. Matt 10:20.
Let us pray: Lord, ability to speak is your gift. Help us always to give glory to you and bring healing to our brothers and sisters through our words – Amen.
Saint Benedict – Pray for us.
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