Lenten Prayer with St Cuthbert – Day 8

Having founded, and been given oversight of the new monastery at Ripon, Eata, Cuthbert, and the rest of the monks are kicked out when the king is persuaded to give it over the Wilfred, newly returned from Rome, instead. The year is 664, a year of plague and the Synod of Whitby, where Wilfred wins the argument over the calculation for the date of Easter, and the type of monastic discipline monks should follow (epitomised in the Roman (Petrine) or Irish (druidic) tonsure).

They return to Melrose, but both Boisil and Cuthbert are struck down by the plague. Cuthbert goes on to recover, although with a legacy of lasting pain in his thigh, but Boisil does not. The two spend Boisil’s last week together, reading and studying John’s Gospel, in preparation for Boisil’s forthcoming elevation to Glory.

In the final words of the chapter we discover one of the great demons with which Cuthbert wrestled his entire life – the attraction of wealth. Odd for someone who chose to live in such poverty and asceticism, while seeking out the poorest to minister to them. Or perhaps not.

Jesus continually tries to open the eyes of his people to see that the Sabbath is about abiding in God’s presence, where healing and wholeness belong (hence whole-iness, from which our word ‘holiness’ derives), not legalistic interpretations about how many steps you are allowed to walk. That’s the point of the 7th Day. But while the ordinary folk hunger and thirst for it, the leaders just can’t see it. So we move to Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.

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