January 26, 2016 – Solemnity of the Holy Founders of Cîteaux
Si 44, 1.10-15; Heb 11, 1-2. 8-13a; Mark 10, 24b-30

Monastery of Illah, Delta State, Nigeria



          The first verses of the text from the Gospel of Mark, that we just read, are the conclusion of the narrative about the young rich man whom Jesus had called to follow him, after renouncing all his possessions, and who had walked away, sad, because, according to the Evangelist Mark, he had great possessions.  It was at that moment that Jesus made his reflection about the difficulty for a rich to enter the Kingdom of Heavens. And Jesus had ended his reflection with a sentence that gives its whole meaning to the narrative : “With men it is impossible; but not with God; because everything is possible with God.

          And, if everything is possible with God, everything is also possible with those who have faith in God.  The second Reading taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, helps to understand what our Fathers of Cîteaux lived and what we have to live, after them.

          When we go through difficult times, we evidently tend to hold onto the hope of better days.  Now, the Letter to the Hebrews says :Faith is the way of holding onto what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see.” The text reminds us of the faith of Abraham who accepted to leave behind his security in order to set out for a foreign country. It reminds us also of the faith of Sarah that made it possible for her to have a child in spite of her old age.

          It is to the same faith that Jesus calls Peter, at the end of our Gospel text, when he tells him that nobody will have left home behind, with brothers, sisters, mother, father and land, without receiving the hundredfold.

          What Robert, Alberic and Stephen and their companions left behind, when they left Molesmes – after having left many other things – including their country, for some of them – was not material things, in the first place –     although Molesmes enjoyed a good material situation.  What they left was most of all the spiritual, psychological and social security of an institution that was were known and esteemed, in order to launch into an adventure that seemed a dead end.  They could not have done it without a total confidence in God.

          It is the same thing for each one of us.  It is quite probable that most of us, when we answered Christ’s call to monastic life, did not have to renounce great material wealth.  Nevertheless, we all renounced the security of the family that we left and of the family that we renounced to create, as well as all the other social links attached to the family.  That renouncing would have been sheer madness had it not been dictated by faith.

          We presently live in a period where the civil society as well as the Church, in Africa as in Europe, America or Asia, experience a great deal of insecurity.  So do most of the communities of our Order in all the continents.  The only thing that may allow us to continue to live with serenity in such situations is the attitude of faith that was that of Abraham, of Sarah, of our Founders, whom we celebrate today, and of several generations of monks and nuns.

          That faith is rooted in Jesus words when he said : “Everything is possible with God”.