Homily for August 23rd, 2016:
An elderly monk, Father Benedict, was returning to his monastery from a journey. With him was a young novice, Brother Ardens. It had been raining and the road was muddy. When they came to a dip in the road still covered with water, they found a beautiful young girl standing there afraid to proceed, lest her long dress be soiled. “Come, dear,” Father Benedict said, when he saw her predicament. “I’ll carry you.” Then he picked the girl up in his arms and carried her across. She thanked him, and the two monks walked on in silence.
When they reached the monastery, Brother Ardens felt he had to say something about the incident he had witnessed. “Monks are supposed to keep away from women, especially from beautiful young girls. How could you pick up in your arms that girl we met on the road?”
“Dear Brother Ardens,” the older monk replied, “I put that girl down as soon as we reached dry ground. You have carried her in your thoughts right into the monastery.”
The young novice was like the scribes and Pharisees in the gospel reading we have just heard: zealous, as many young people are, and determined to see all the rules and regulations carefully observed. The ardent young monk never realized that this could mean failing in something even more important: helping someone in need.
Behind each of the Ten Commandments is the highest law of all, charity: active, generous and sacrificial service – to God, and to others.