Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin

Friday, February 9, 2018

1Kgs12:26-32;13:33-34; Ps 106:6-7ab,19-22; Mk 8:1-10
“They forgot the God who had saved them.”

Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict were twins. They came from wealth and gave all they had away to God and to the needy, and they lived a life of simplicity and contemplation. Early monks and nuns often murmured wisdom because they were memorizing the psalms and other scripture passages in what has been called lectio divina. The Rule of Saint Benedict prohibits murmuring when such speech contains only complaining and cynicism. However, the sisters under the guidance of Saint Scholastica murmured wisdom. The Word of God was the constant preoccupation for the nuns and monks. It permeated their days and their conversations. Since the Law of the LORD was in their hearts, their footsteps did not falter. They found refuge in time of distress. In her own distress, Saint Scholastica pleaded with her twin brother for him to stay with her in conversation about the Wisdom of God all night long. He refused. The LORD did not refuse Saint Scholastica; a violent storm kept Saint Benedict with twin till the dawn of day. Only three days later the reluctant brother saw his sister’s soul ascend into heaven in the form of a dove. Saint Benedict learned about compassion from his twin. The necessity of obedience to the Rule is always mitigated by charity. Although a good monk may never stay away the whole night, Saint Scholastica wanted her twin to share his vision of heavenly glory with her just one more time before her death. In three days her request was vindicated, and upon her death Saint Benedict had her buried in the tomb he had prepared for himself. As they were united in living the monastic life, they were united in the same grave. This unity is complete in the fullness of the kingdom of heaven. This is the promise made to all who commit their life to the LORD and trust in him.

They forgot the God who had saved them. How could they forget? How could we forget the God Became Man who has poured himself out upon the altar of the cross? The great irony of today’s psalm is that we forget his saving deeds, and we ask God to remember us out of the love he has for his people. We forget and God remembers. This forgetting isn’t about Alzheimer’s or a bad memory. This forgetting is about not considering his wonders. This forgetting is sin. Like our fathers we have committed offences against the LORD Our God. Like our fathers who made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image, we too have turned our backs on the LORD Our Savior. We too have exchanged the glory of being made in the image and likeness of God for the image of a grass-eating bullock. It is our human dignity that we offer up on the altars of our idolatry. Indeed, we become what we worship. The wondrous deeds of the LORD in the land of Ham are forgotten. The terrible things the LORD did at the Red Sea are not remembered. We even follow leaders like King Jeroboam who wanted to give away the priesthood and establish two other shrines for his people to worship. This will ensure the loyalty of the Israelites and the end of the centralized worship at Jerusalem. Even the disciples seem to have forgotten about the feeding of the five thousand. We, too, easily forget the great sign and wonder that the Eucharist is for us each day of our lives.

King Jeroboam reveals a certain kind of wisdom, or a least a cleverness, that enables him to make the separation of Judah and Israel long lasting. He is intelligent enough to realize that if the people continue to visit Jerusalem, their hearts will return to their master. Not only with the people continue to be faithful to the LORD God Almighty, they will also rise up against him and all who have joined him in the rebellion. King Jeroboam tried to bring religion closer to the people and to make it user-friendlier. Indeed, this has been the strategy of nearly every heresy throughout the history of the church. At first Father Arius tried to make Christ more accessible to the people by so emphasizing the humanity of Christ that he ended up denying the divinity of Christ. In his own day King Jeroboam imitated the religion of Jerusalem so that it would feel familiar and look right to the Israelites. This sin of the house of Jeroboam had consequences. He was cut off and destroyed from the earth. Our idolatry has consequences also. We will be ignored by history and forgotten by our descendants until some of them want to use religion for some self-serving advantage.

Saint Mark wants us to remember. Notice his introduction to this section, “there again was a great crowd without anything to eat.” This is déjà vu, all over again. Indeed, the whole situation seems all too familiar to the reader or listener. Again the Lord is moved with pity for the crowd—they are still lost, hungry, and without anything to eat. When the Lord Jesus asks the disciples their advice, he receives the same response as before. How can we possibility serve such a large crowd? It’s as if they weren’t even there at the feeding of the five thousand only a few chapters back. Again the menu is even the same, but this time they have seven loaves to work with. Again, the Lord Jesus summons us to remember his wonders and the marvelous things he has done for us again and again when we are in danger of collapsing. The Lord Jesus feeds us with his own body, blood, soul and divinity so that we might never choose to turn away from the dignity of our baptism. Indeed, we remember that without the Eucharist we would never survive. Indeed, we remember that with the Eucharist we not only survive this dangerous journey of faith, we also come to taste and see how good the Lord is. Even here and now we are already transformed by his compassion and become more and more fully human which is nothing less than sharing in the Divinity of the Son of Man, the Son of Mary.

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