Thursday, April 26, 2012

READ: 1 Peter 5: 1-7

St Boniface was a great Englishman - yet hardly anyone in this country has heard of him, even though he was our Patron Saint for 300 years. It’s very different abroad where he is still the Patron Saint of both Germany and the Netherlands.

Boniface was born at Crediton in Devon in 675. He became a monk, but felt a calling to be a missionary, so at the age of 43 he left his monastery, never to return.

He embarked on 35 years of missionary work in various parts of Germany. In 722 he was consecrated by the Pope as Bishop of the whole of Germany to the east of the Rhine.

But being bishop didn’t give him a sense of self-importance. Like Peter in our reading, Boniface stressed the need for humility and service. When Boniface wrote to other bishops, he had a way of invariably reminding them that Christian authority meant service.

Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet was the supreme example for him, and so, whenever another bishop sent him a present, back went a towel from Boniface.

Humility is a difficult quality to cultivate. We might think that it means being a door-mat, but that’s not so. Christian humility can include assertiveness (which is different from aggression, of course).

Above all though, humility means acknowledging that we are sinners, saved by grace.

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