Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot

In today’s Gospel, we are called to profess before others what Jesus has given to us.  “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”  Literally from the Greek, Jesus tells them to “say the same as” what he taught them.  The word for acknowledge has legal connotations in the sense of being a witness for what was taught.

As one scholar noted, we are called to “declare in,” or “profess solidarity with,” Jesus.

Jesus does not bear witness to us before other people.  He bears witness to us before his Father.  He acknowledges us before his Father. 

We bear witness to Jesus before other people.  We stand up and profess before the world that we are in Christ.  There is a reciprocity, but it does not happen before the world.  It happens before the Father and before heaven when Jesus acknowledges us there.

Are we willing to speak “from the housetops” what has been whispered to us about Jesus in the darkness?  Shortly after Jesus’ Ascension, such a public confession would have been dangerous.  In a different way, it might be dangerous today.  It can be a risk to employment, to social standing, and even to some friendships.  Even if we do so in an inviting way, rather than an inflammatory and confrontational one.

Today, we celebrate Saint Benedict, who was foundational to western monasticism.  His Rule of Benedict is followed by both Benedictines and the Trappists.  Monasticism really began to grow significantly after the persecutions ended in the early 4th century, and Saint Benedict lived in the 5th and 6th centuries. 

In the earliest Church, martyrdom was a sign of holiness.  After the persecutions, monasticism and pilgrimages both grew as ways to pursue holiness. 

While monasticism may seem the opposite of Jesus’ command in today’s Gospel, it should be seen as a clear witness to the world that the ways of this world are not what is most important.  The act of entering the monastery is a profession to the world of solidarity with Jesus. 

In what ways are we willing to profess solidarity with Jesus?  Do we look forward to his acknowledgement of us before the Father?  Or do we still expect him to bear witness to us before the world?  How do we publicly profess this Christian alternative to a dissatisfied, anxious, or even despairing secular world?