JULY 9, 2003, HOMILY- MATTHEW 10:1-7 

JESUS SUMMONED HIS APOSTLES AND GAVE THEM AUTHORITY… GO TO THE LOST SHEEPOF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. Our Lord’s ministry during his life time was confined to his own people. Many Jews were living abroad in the diaspora so that his preaching would be heard, no doubt, by men living in a number of different nations. As matters turned out, however, it seems that our Lord’s experience gradually led him to reinterpret his mission even during his lifetime. The Gospel records the story of the Syro-Phenician woman who persisted in her prayer for her sick child even after Jesus refused her because she was not Jewish. Her prayer seems to have caused him to re-interpret his Father’s will. On another occasion it was the Samaritans to whom he preached after they sought him out following the witness of a woman of their village whom he had spoken with at the well. In any case, after his rejection by the Jewish authorities and following upon his resurrection, he sent his apostles to all nations and all peoples of the world.  

The Catholic Church has taken this mission seriously. In principle the Church keeps in view every culture and language in her legislation and practice. That this noble and divinely assigned mission has not always been adequately applied is hardly a surprise, for such a program makes heavy demands on human nature. Men’s habits are formed early in life as regards taste and skills and formed differently in the various cultures. It requires a very considerable effort to alter ways of thinking, to make laws and establish customs that take into account the specific preferences and habits of new and often very strange ways of doing things and of thinking about the challenges posed by life. At times the leaders of the Church, upon confronting too narrow views and decisions that did not do justice to certain cultures, have attempted to correct such ways in order to make the Church more true to her mission. 

We live at a period when this truly Evangelical mission to be ‘all things to all men’ is taken seriously. In fact, this community was founded by the American Region of our Order just 8 years after Vatican II gave fresh impulse to the universalist vision of the Catholic Church. That every nation might have a complete presence of the Church in all its dimensions it seems important to have contemplative monasteries in every country, for men as well as for women. We are here to provide that element of the Church’s life for the men of this nation. By living faithfully our Cistercian vocation we embody as a community a reality that otherwise is not available to many in this country. Not only those who are called to be monks, but the men and women who seek a place of tranquil recollection and prayer and who profit from their participation in the divine office in its full expression. 

In living our Cistercian life fervently and faithfully day by day we are carrying out, in a significant way, limited though it be, the mission given to the apostles to spread the Gospel to all nations. To make Christ better known and loved, to help those who seek to live more faithfully according to his word are our way of obeying this command of the Lord to continue the work he came on earth to undertake, until the number of the elect reaches its fullfillment.

  Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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