Saturday, August 29, 2015

What Shall I Ask For?

On the subject of fraternal charity you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you.  1 Thessalonians 4:9-11

The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”  Mark 6:22B-24A

Chapter 71: That the Brethren Be Obedient to One Another
Not only is the boon of obedience to be shown by all to the Abbot, but the brethren are also to obey one another, knowing that by this road of obedience they are going to God. 

“Ask and you shall receive.”  We have been exposed to that popular maxim from the Bible throughout our lives.  So when Herod promises the birthday girl anything she wants, what goes wrong?

Lots…but if we put the bottom line up front, the answer is later in Mark’s writing:  (Mark 24) “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

Clearly, the young girl did not ask in prayer.  If so, she would have asked in humility for world peace, a cure for cancer, or for everybody to just get along with each other.  The request was not even hers but it was her mother’s request to get the nuisance of a prophet out of the way so she could marry the King.  The request also was everything that prayer should not be.  It was selfish.  It was vengeful.  It was violent.  It was not authentic. It was not offered in the spirit of charity and obedience that is the hallmark of the Rule of St. Benedict which I have been foisting upon you almost daily since the cycle began in May.

As a counter balance to the selfishness of Herod’s wife and daughter, Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians gives us a bite on the apple of action:  Love one another but progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands. 

This might have been a simple message two thousand years ago.  Today, too often, the work of our hands is in typing and commerce and driving.  What else can your hands do today for someone else?  Hardworking hands deserve support. 

No comments: