Ezekiel 43: 1 – 7
Matthew 23: 1 – 12
St, Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church.
“You must not allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant.”
This morning at 5am, we took off from Port Moresby in almost total darkness in a small passenger plane for Vanimo, a long way to the West. We could barely make out clouds beneath us and the darkness all around. After an hour of flight we could see the morning star to the north, out from our right wing tip. Then gradually an orange smudge of light shone through the clouds. A new day had come – just as we were ready to land.
The readings today speak of hope for God’s People, shining through the darkness. Ezekiel lived among the people of Israel in Babylon. Their nation had been crushed, their holy city Jerusalem destroyed. They felt as a people without hope.
Yet God had not forgotten his People. Ezekiel has a vision – led by the Spirit of God – where he sees a new Temple sitting on the holy mountain in Jerusalem, and he beholds the Glory of the living God returning to the Temple from the east. And a voice tells Ezekiel: “Son of man, this is the dais of my throne, the step on which I rest my feet. I shall live here among the sons and daughters of Israel for ever.” The Spirit of God goes on to tell Ezekiel that the People will be cleansed of their sin – they will be a humble and a lowly people.
Bernard was a gifted young man, with skills of leadership and education. He lived in Dijon in Burgundy ( 12th Century). After the death of his mother, a remarkable woman, he experienced a sense of conversion and at the age of 22, he went with 4 of his brothers and 25 friends to enter the new reformed movement at the Cistercian abbey of Citeaux. After only 3 or 4 years, Bernard was sent by the Abbot to a new piece of land in a wooded area in a valley. He and his companions began the new abbey Clairvaux according to the stricter Rule of St Benedict. Clairvaux means “light in the valley.” Bernard led people by his example and teaching – an evident holiness and a deep sense of God – that came as the fruit of suffering, prayer and humble love. Today Pope Francis calls the People of God to make a new beginning – to listen to what the Spirit is saying in the Church in a space where we listen to each other and above all to Christ. For the Glory of God has not deserted his Church.
As Jesus teaches us: “You must not allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. . .
Pat McIndoe CP, a Passionist at St. Gabriel’s Retreat, Boroko, Port Moresby