Lenten Prayer with St Cuthbert – Day 17

It’s just tucked away at the beginning of the narrative, almost designed not to be noticed. ‘About eight days later…’ Eight days after Peter had confessed Jesus as the Christ of God. Eight days after he said ‘take up your cross…’ and ‘what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul…’. Eight days later we arrive at the Transfiguration on the mountain, the eighth day of creation, the day of Resurrection, the new beginning, the day that has no evening: the revelation of Jesus as the first whole and complete human being in all his Glory. As Pilate said, Ecce Homo, ‘Behold, the Man’.

Meanwhile, Cuthbert at last graduates from cenobitic to the eremitic life, from the communal to the solitary. And it was a graduation – only after many years of living under the strict discipline of monastic rule was permission given to a select few to remove from the environs of the community and to venture into the depths of warfare for the world as hermit. This is where the real demons were fought. Still very much a part of his community, but a lone outpost, a lighthouse shining in the depths of the wild storm of the world. But note that it also a ‘city’ (‘civitas’) – this is where the heavenly dwelling of God is being proclaimed.

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