Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent / Transitus of St. Benedict
Transitus of St. Benedict Transferred
The monastic community at Conception Abbey will celebrate today the “Transitus (Death) of St. Benedict” as a Solemnity and will take different readings at Mass (this Solemnity is normally celebrated on March 21, but transferred from the Lenten Sunday to Monday this year). This reflection that follows will be on the Readings for the Day (Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent) and not those for the Solemnity of St. Benedict.
The rather lengthy first reading from the Book of Daniel is worth the read. Paired with the Gospel, we hear of two women caught in the act of adultery: one ensnared in a cruel scheme and the other one in a legitimate case of adultery. However, what unites these two women is that both women were used wrongly, in a way no human person deserves to be used. Susanna was used as the object of the fantasy of the sinful, old men, and the Pharisees used the adulterous woman merely as an object to try to force Jesus into a trap that would condemn the woman. Jesus was faced with the decision either to fulfill the law and lose his reputation for gentleness, or act against the law of Moses.
It was not a question of whether or not the woman caught in adultery had done wrong, or whether or not adultery is a serious sin, but the encounter with Jesus demonstrates how the Pharisees and scribes regard this woman as nothing. For them, she is a mere object, a pawn that they are using for the purpose of trapping and ensnaring Jesus, trying to back him into an impossible corner.
The Catholic Church has always defended the inviolable dignity of each human person from conception to natural death. The Catholic Church has been one of few consistent voices of promoting the true good of the human person and guiding others to treat others with the same respect. Unfortunately, the culture in which we live will disrespect and objectify the most vulnerable. Consider the persistent misuses or the disregard for the value and dignity of the human person—abortion, human trafficking, or pornography. In each instance (and in many other ways) it’s the same offense—using the human person as means to an end. Treating human beings like objects.
We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We want to acknowledge our sins and failings and honestly strive to treat one another in a way that builds up our society. This begins by seeing ourselves as beloved sons or daughters of our Heavenly Father. When we find confidence within our own identity in God, then we will experience peace in our relationship with God and help lead others to recognize their dignity as well.
Reflection Question: In what ways is God leading you to show greater respect for your own dignity and that of others?
Reflection by Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB