Venerable, Just Like Bede

With apologies to loyal Daily Cup readers, this was the entry that was SUPPOSED to have gone out on Friday…here it is a couple of days late.  I hope you enjoy it all the same!

Peace and Blessings,




Today in the life of the Church we celebrate The Venerable Bede who died in the year 735 A.D.  If you are at all like me, you really don’t employ the word, “venerable” all that often in your daily conversations or communications with others.  Indeed it is a rather unique adjective that means: “calling forth respect through age, character, and attainments.” (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)  Venerable is also the title borne by an Archdeacon of the Episcopal Church.  But the ins and outs of what an Archdeacon does (being the “big stick” to the bishop’s “talk softly”) is not what I would like to focus on today.

Instead, I would like to talk about another rather unique person who has this title of “venerable” bestowed upon him:  Bede.  At the age of seven Bede was given by his relatives to the monks at the abby of Wearmouth-Jarrow in England.  He spent his entire life within several miles of the monastery, yet he produced some of–if not THE–most scholarly work on the Bible, and history of the English people that was produced in the Middle Ages.  As a scholar he had no equal, as an historian none for 200 years before or after him can compare.  His entire life was a cycle of prayer, praise, study, and worship and he died in his monastic cell surrounded by his fellow monks, the whole assembly singing praises to God.

The gospel passage for today is Matthew 13:47-52 (click on the link for the whole reading).  The last paragraph of the reading is as follows:

“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

When I think about Bede and this passage, it is the last sentence of  that paragraph that catches my mind’s imagination.   Bede produced, as perhaps his greatest life’s work, a book titled, Ecclesiastical History of the English People.  This little book is a gift of detailed history and scholarship of the English people, and is one of the very few sources of factual knowledge we have about this era in England’s history.

“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”  

I wonder what treasure we bring out of ourselves, our stories, our learning, our wisdom and our faith that we pass along?

I believe that all of us, no matter our age, have wisdom that we can pass along to others.  I also believe that we are especially doing the work of the kingdom when we talk openly and honestly about our faith with others.  It is those moments when we share how we feel we are loved by God, or how our lives have been transformed (in big and little ways) by God working through us when we are doing the work of the Kingdom here and now.  And, the histories that we share of our encounters with the divine do not all have to be the huge “wow moments” of our faith.   Often when we are authentic in our recounting of our own faith histories including the moments of doubt and struggle with our faith are what will most likely resonate with those with whom we are sharing.  In telling a thorough and true history of our personal faith, we already have brought forth the treasures that are old and new and that are of the Kingdom of heaven.

Our faith histories, when we share them…those God-moments we give, are precious gifts and have the potential to change the lives of those with whom we interact, drawing them closer in community to the love of God.  When we recount our faith histories with others and bring forth our own treasures that are old and new we too, like Bede, are venerable, growing in character, wisdom, faith and love.

In Christ’s name,

About matthewhanisian

Associate Rector at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.
This entry was posted in The Rev. Matthew R. Hanisian and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Venerable, Just Like Bede

  1. Jim Tate says:

    Regarding your reference to “big stick” and “speak softly,” there is more to the often used TR quote. According to several sources he also said: “Promise little. Keep every promise. Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” I think the whole thing would be something the modern politicians could use. -TATE

  2. This is a wonderful explanation and challenge to Christians to communicate honestly the workings of the Holy Spirit.

  3. kingschwarz says:

    Thank you for recalling to me the Venerable Bede, forgotten since English history classes many years ago. The term “Venerable,” however, is for me part of everyday usage, because of my career in ecumenical and interfaith work. Venerable is used not only to refer to Anglican and Episcopal Archdeacons but also to those in the initial stage of the Roman Catholic canonization process, to monastic saints in the Orthodox Church, and to Buddhist monks and nuns. Returning to Bede, although he was a great scholar who worked in various fields in addition to history, I would rather undergo oral surgery than read the Historia Ecclesiastica or any of his other books. By the mercy of God, most of them have been lost to time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s