St. Anthony, abbot
Hebrews 3:7-14 + Psalm 95 + Mark 1:40-45
January 17, 2013
“Then He said to him, ‘See that you tell no one anything….’ ” [Mark 1:44]
The saint whose feast the Church celebrates today was an Egyptian monk who lived for 104 years in Egypt during the third and fourth centuries. One of the earliest “Desert Fathers”, Saint Anthony is considered both in the East and the West to be one of the founders of monasticism, not only because of his innovative idea to live in the wilderness, but also due to the biography of his life written by the great Doctor of the Church, St. Athanasius of Alexandria.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus acting similarly to St. Anthony. We hear that Jesus “remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.” Of course Jesus has a different motive than St. Anthony for seeking solitude. The key difference between their “retreats” is that Jesus’ is temporary, while St. Anthony’s was largely permanent. St. Anthony’s exodus into the desert was in order to live out his vocation as a monk. Jesus’ journeys to deserted places was a prudential distancing himself from those He came into this world to serve. No matter what your own vocation is, you need to make solitude and silence a steady habit of your spiritual life.