To read today's Mass Readings, click here.
In his Rule, St. Benedict is very clear that monks are to avoid any semblance of private ownership: “without an order from the abbot, no one may presume to give, receive, or retain anything as his own, nothing at all” (ch. 33). This challenging teaching gave rise to a number of practices in monasteries, including monks or nuns of times past referring to “our habit,” “our cell,” or “our book,” as a reminder that all the goods of the community were shared among the members.
St. Benedict went so far as to call private ownership an “evil practice” because he recognized how easy it is for us to focus our attention on things and lose sight of life-giving relationships. This is why he was so insistent that the monks should “look to the father of the monastery” for the necessities of day to day living and ministry.
Today’s Readings also have something to say about our relationship with created things. Whether we are talking about household goods or our own bodies, the temptation to focus on externals at the expense of what really matters is always there. Having the right perspective requires humility and trust in God’s Providence
Like Benedict's, we're called to cultivate a humble awareness of our place in creation, including our responsibilities as stewards of the created world. Humility also includes the realization that we are capable of making gods of the very things that should be serving and enriching our lives. Our faith tells us that we can rely on God for the things that we truly need. But it also challenges us to recognize that everything we have is a gift--and that we should always be willing to share those gifts with others.