The light of grace

Light of grace

When we are young a “new year” is often associated with the start of a school year. Sports fans might celebrate each “new year” when their favorite team begins training camp. What do we look to this year, when the things we relied on to begin us anew are significantly altered or gone, consequences of a pandemic? On the other hand, what about change that is not thrust upon us but instead is a direct result of our choosing?

Before he met Jesus, Matthew the tax collector might have viewed the start of a new year as the time that came after reports were submitted to local authorities. A sermon written by Saint Bede the Venerable begins with a quote from the gospel later named for Matthew: “Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office and he said to him: Follow me.”

Saint Bede, an English monastic living the Rule of Benedict, writes that Jesus saw Matthew through the eyes of mercy and chose him. With those two words Jesus invites Matthew not just to walk with him but to imitate the pattern of his life. Saint Bede explains, “There should be no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as Jesus commanded him” for he knew that Jesus and the others invited to follow him had “no riches at all”. Matthew was summoned by “an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace”. Jesus had instructed Matthew to walk in his footsteps from a path littered with earthly possessions toward the one lined with the treasures of heaven. In other words, the light of grace showed Matthew that the currency of his life had changed.

Matthew’s view of a new year probably changed too, something I can identify with. My new year was also once viewed in terms of the school calendar or reports to tax authorities; that is, until I was summoned by grace through Jesus, the Christ. Now my year, the Liturgical Year, has held me and anchored me in ways previously unknown. It provides comfort through its stability and it is winding down, evidenced by the long stretch of Ordinary Time in which we presently find ourselves. When the new Liturgical Year begins, may we choose once again to accept the invitation to walk with Jesus, as described by Saint Bede and Saint Benedict, hastening us toward our heavenly home.

Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God – Rule of Benedict 43:3

A sermon written by Saint Bede the Venerable (673 – 735 A.D.), part of the Office of Readings for September 21st, the Feast of Saint Matthew
Matthew 9:9
Rule of Benedict 73:8