THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF ENCOUNTER AND THE CALL TO IMITATE CHRIST
First Reading: Genesis 32:23-33
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 16(17):1-3,6-8
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9:32-37
The feast of St. Benedict, Abbot, invites us to reflect on the profound wisdom and spiritual legacy of this holy man who devoted his life to seeking God and nurturing the souls of his disciples. As we delve into the liturgical readings for this day, we can uncover a central theme that resonates with the life and example of St. Benedict: the transformative power of encounter and the call to imitate Christ in loving service.
In the first reading (Genesis 32:23-33), we encounter Jacob wrestling with an unknown man until daybreak. This mysterious encounter brings about a profound transformation within Jacob. His struggle becomes a metaphor for the struggles we face in our own lives, the moments of uncertainty and conflict that test our faith and character. Jacob’s perseverance and refusal to let go until he received a blessing are symbolic of the determination and resilience that characterized St. Benedict’s journey toward holiness. Benedict faced numerous challenges and temptations, both from within and without, yet he clung steadfastly to his faith, seeking God with unwavering determination.
The responsorial psalm [16(17):1-3, 6-8] echoes the plea of the psalmist for God’s protection and guidance in the face of adversity. It expresses a deep trust in God’s love and a desire to walk in His ways. St. Benedict, too, understood the importance of surrendering oneself completely to God’s will. His Rule, a testament to his spiritual insight, emphasized the necessity of humility, obedience, and a life of prayer. Through these practices, St. Benedict sought to align his own will with God’s, transforming his heart and leading others to do the same.
The Gospel reading (Matthew 9:32-37) presents Jesus as the compassionate healer who encounters those in need. We witness His miracles of healing and His proclamation of the Good News. Jesus’ encounter with the mute man, who was freed from the grip of evil and gained the ability to speak, exemplifies the transformative power of encountering Christ. Similarly, St. Benedict’s encounters with those who sought his guidance and mentoring were transformative in nature. Through his words and actions, Benedict led others to encounter the love and mercy of God, bringing about lasting change in their lives.
Dear friends in Christ, St. Benedict understood that an encounter with God and with others are intertwined. By encountering God in prayer and in the Scriptures, we are transformed and enabled to encounter others with love and compassion. St. Benedict’s own encounters with God and with his disciples exemplify this truth. St. Benedict, Abbot, invites us to imitate his example by embracing encounters as a means of transformation. In our encounters with God through prayer, contemplation, and the sacraments, we open ourselves to His grace and allow Him to shape us into vessels of His love. Likewise, in our encounters with others, we are called to imitate Christ’s compassion and mercy, seeking to heal, uplift, and inspire.
As we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, let us reflect on the transformative power of encounter and the call to imitate Christ. May we, like Jacob, persevere in our struggles, seeking God with unwavering faith. May we, like St. Benedict, surrender ourselves to God’s will, allowing His love to transform our hearts. And may we, like Jesus, encounter others with compassion and service, becoming instruments of healing and reconciliation in our world. Through the intercession of St. Benedict, may we grow in holiness and be empowered to bring about transformative encounters in the lives of those we encounter on our journey of faith.
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© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
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