Rule of St. Benedict: Prologue, January 3, 2017

January 3, May 4, September 3

Prologue

And the Lord, seeking his laborer

in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,

says again,

“Who is the one who will have life,

and desires to see good days” (Ps. 33[34]:13)?

And if, hearing Him, you answer,

“I am the one,”

God says to you,

“If you will have true and everlasting life,

keep your tongue from evil

and your lips that they speak no guile.

Turn away from evil and do good;

seek after peace and pursue it” (Ps. 33[34]:14-15).

And when you have done these things,

My eyes shall be upon you

and My ears open to your prayers;

and before you call upon Me,

I will say to you,

‘Behold, here I am'” (Ps. 33[34]:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).

What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,

than this voice of the Lord inviting us?

Behold, in His loving kindness

the Lord shows us the way of life.

Some thoughts
 
I notice that the Lord is looking for a ‘laborer’, a worker, in this passage. Not a child or a friend or a disciple, but someone who will work hard.
 
I don’t know how often I think of being a *laborer* in the Lord’s vineyard. I do think of being a servant. But a laborer? Living in California, I have a much deeper appreciation of the strenuous work that is done in the vineyards. These days some vineyards are harvested by machines but the places where the best wines come from are still harvested by hand, as they were in St. Benedict’s day. It is backbreaking work to stoop, grasp a cluster of grapes, swipe with a knife and gently depost the grapes in the basket. One stays stooped over for a long time. In the hot sun. Hard work.
 
Am I a person who grows things? Am I a person who builds things? A person who will tackle the rough, tough work while someone more skilled does the delicate bits?
 
“What can be sweeter to us than this voice of the Lord inviting us?”
 
I doubt anything could be sweeter than the Lord’s voice… but at this beginning of this New Year, can I discern what the invitation entails? Am I up to it? Am I up for it? Can I walk by faith and not by sight?
 
I’d say probably not, but am encouraged by the fact that most ‘calls’ in the Bible were met with protest from the one being called (Isaiah, Moses, Gideon, etc) so heroics aren’t necessary, ‘just’ obedience, humility and keeping one’s tongue from evil – the very themes that recur in the RB!
 
Can we all hear how much the Lord wants us? Are we willing to risk having our false perceptions of God transformed by His revelation to us of His true nature?
 
We are to keep out tongues and lips from evil. The issue is not what we might do, see, read or hear. The issue is what comes out of us, what passes through our lips. The issue at this moment is what we might say. Seems to me the implication is that the proof that we have turned from evil is in what we say.
 
Of course, later on in the Rule, Benedict does turn his attention to thoughts and deeds. But just for today, let’s think about what sorts of things pass through our lips.
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