Monday, January 02, 2012

Remain in Him

January 2, 2012

Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him. And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming. 1 John 2:27-29

"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?" He said: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as Isaiah the prophet said." John 1:22-23


Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: "It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom. 13:11)." Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: "If you hear God's voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps. 95:8)." And again: "You that have ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev. 2:7)." And what does the Spirit say? "Come and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of God (Ps. 34:12)." "Run while you have the light" of life, "that the darkness" of death "may not overtake you (Jn. 12:35)." (From the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict for January 2)


Interesting advice…"remain in Him." Each time we attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, Christ comes into our very being. He remains there all the time yet we keep going back to the well of living water and bread to be strengthened for the journey ahead. So it is easy to understand why we want Christ to remain in us. But how are we to have any influence over how we remain in Christ? Is He not always there no matter what we do?

Certainly yes…but perhaps the contrast is between "remain" versus "reject." How often do we make little decisions which create distance between us and the Lord? Not necessarily huge gaps like the outright rejection in the first half of the story of the Prodigal Son. But little rejections like saying we will do this or that and then not following through.

Despite these decisions, Christ never distances Himself from us. From the moment of our birth and baptism, until the last sacrament and last breath, He is with us. The challenge then is for us to make decisions that keep us close to Him.


Our readings reminds us that there are false teachers out there trying to tempt us away from the straight path of the Lord. Sometimes, the path of peace is the path of the desert -- not necessarily the most popular path in the world.

Perhaps the challenge as the New Year commences is to continue to engage in the quest to find God's presence in a world where the political, economic, technical, military, and social forces would drown out the voice crying out in the wilderness. We know and can predict that the daily news will be dominated by the swings of the international monetary markets, the ups and downs of the national political polls, off-again and off-yet-again Hollywood romances and relationships, and the lure of the latest products that advertisers wave under our nose.

As the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict advises, let us resolve to "listen carefully with the ear of our hearts" to the voice crying out in the wilderness. That voice has no million-dollar media buy, no opposition research, no public opinion polling. We don't have time to waste on trivial matters when the corporal and spiritual works of mercy need so much attention from us.

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