Thursday, July 11, 2013

Come Closer to Me

Come Closer to Me

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbott
“Come closer to me,” he told his brothers.  When they had done so, he said: “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.  But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.”  Genesis 45:4-5
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.  Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.  The laborer deserves his keep.  Matthew 10:8b-10


Chapter 33:  Whether Monks Ought to Have Anything of Their Own
This vice especially is to be cut out of the monastery by the roots. Let no one presume to give or receive anything without the Abbot's leave, or to have anything as his own-- anything whatever, whether book or tablets or pen or whatever it may be-- since they are not permitted to have even their bodies or wills at their own disposal; but for all their necessities let them look to the Father of the monastery.  And let it be unlawful to have anything which the Abbot has not given or allowed.  Let all things be common to all, as it is written (Acts 4:32), and let no one say or assume that anything is his own.
But if anyone is caught indulging in this most wicked vice, let him be admonished once and a second time. If he fails to amend, let him undergo punishment.  Rule of St. Benedict Chapter 33


Why are any of us brought into the world?  Joseph and his amazing Technicolor® view of the world may hold the answer for us in this encounter with his brothers.  Rather than seek revenge for being wronged, he seeks for those estranged brothers to come closer to him.  His purpose in Egypt was saving lives.  And now the lives he has a chance to save are the lives of the very same brothers who sold him into slavery. 
The generosity of heart that Joseph displays could easily have become revenge in his heart.  But Joseph did not give in to those emotions.  He knew that God had a plan for him and he acted out his part of the covenant relationship with those around him.
His demeanor foreshadows the demeanor that Christ prescribed for His followers.  “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”  Or in the words of the psalmist, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.”


One of my favorite blogs to follow is  The other day, she passed along a passage from Pope Francis – whose words and deeds are touching the world in new and pastoral ways every day. 
The passage warns that our actions in life must not be as “mere philanthropists.”  Instead, out actions require us to touch the wounds of Christ.  We may seek shortcuts to encountering Christ, but there is no shortcut to picking up our cross (daily) and following Him.  As Pope Francis put it on the Feast of St. Thomas:
But Jesus tells us that the path to encountering Him is to find His wounds. We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to the body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress – the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked, because he is humiliated, because he is enslaved, because he is incarcerated, because he is in hospital. These are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. ‘Ah, good! Let’s set up a foundation to help these people, to do so many good things to help them’. That is important, but if we remain on this level, we will be merely philanthropists. – (See more at:
On this feast day for Benedictines around the world, consider these men and women who have separated from life in the world and opted for life in a monastic community where they can daily touch the wounds of Christ without being burdened by property ownership.
We must come closer to our sisters and brothers who are in need with Benedictine-inspired hospitality.  We cannot stand at a distance and throw money at a problem.  We can’t rely upon what we have packed away for our journey.  We have to fully rely upon God.  We have to solve it. We have to have an impact.  And the only best way to do that is by getting involved and be the host or hostess of the poor.  As the Letter to the Hebrews says, who know, we might be entertaining angels.

No comments: