"Arrange that he and his followers arrive first at the place appointed for the conference," answered the hermit. "If he rises courteously as you approach, rest assured that he is the servant of Christ and do as he asks. But if he ignores you and does not rise, then, since you are in the majority, do not comply with his demands."
- The Venerable Bede, Ecclesiastical History (British, 8th century)
"For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished."
- Matthew 5.18
The Catholic missionary, Augustine (not the great saint), upon arriving at Canterbury, sent and called the Irish bishops to meet him, that he might bring the Irish into subjection to the Roman Church. The bishops, willing to do what was right, consulted a hermit - a hermit, a solitary monk, mind you - concerning how they might determine whether they could trust this priest.
The hermit's advice was to see if he would stand when the bishops entered his presence, and here we get a glimpse at just how considerable was the depth of Biblical knowledge among Celtic Christians. If the Catholic emissary stood, it would indicate that he knew and believed the Law of God, which requires that deference be shown to elders of the believing community by standing in their presence (Lev. 19.32). If he did not stand, it would tell them not to trust him, for either he did not know the Law of God or he did not regard it seriously.
Either way, a cleric who did not hold to the Law of God could not be trusted. As it happened, Augustine did not stand, and the Irish did not submit to Catholic oversight for another century.
I frequently wonder at the wisdom of that lonely hermit, who showed such familiarity with the Word of God, and such confidence in it, that he could readily apply it as a means of discerning the will of God in this particular situation. Do we know the Word that well? Are we as serious in our studies of and meditations on the Word of God as this?
I fear we are not. Job esteemed the words of God's mouth more than his necessary food (Job 23.12). Jeremiah devoured the Word of God and was filled with joy and rejoicing (Jer. 15.16). Ezra studied and lived the Word and was entrusted with leading the reconstruction of a nation (Ezra 7.10).
And what about us? Do we - do you - love the Word of God like this?
Today in ReVision: Pray for the President - He needs it, and who knows what our prayers might accomplish?