I have been remiss in posting a new Notebook page. I confess I have been more interested of late with my “Quote for the Day” and accompanying photograph on our News Page. I hope you are enjoying those daily postings. As a photographer and avid reader, I have been having fun (yes, even abbots can have fun) taking photos and choosing quotes or else finding quotes and taking a suitable photograph. Sometimes the quote and the photo match pretty well, reflecting each other in some way, at other times, not at all perhaps. But as we say: “that’s for you to figure out.”
That being said, I would like to post a new Notebook page, but with words not from me, but from one of our priest-monks, the fine homily he gave after the Gospel at Mass today.
The first reading for the Mass was from the First Book of Kings, chapter 18, verses 20 to 39. The Gospel text was from Saint Matthew, chapter 5, verses 17 to 19.
The homilist prefers to remain anonymous, but his message is “spot on” in my opinion.
Here begins his text:
Elijah the Prophet appeals to the people of Israel and says, “How long will you STRADDLE the issue?” To “straddle” means to “sit on the fence,” that is, with one leg hanging over one side of the fence and the other leg over the opposite side. This means to be noncommittal, not to make up you mind, not to decide for one side or the other, to be indecisive, to compromise, to “wait and see,” and not really to give your loyalty.
Elijah says: “If it’s the LORD who is God, follow him; if Baal, then follow him…” Which is it? Make up your minds.
This is the basic problem throughout the Old Testament: God’s people tend always to “straddle.” Maybe they don’t outright reject the LORD, but they don’t finally choose him alone, either. Isn’t this our problem, too?
Quite the opposite of our attitude is that of Jesus Christ, who, Saint Paul says, “Loved me and handed HIMSELF over for me.” Giving yourself up to torture and to death for someone is the last word in unconditional commitment.
Saint John says that Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them TO THE END.
In another place Saint Paul says, “The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was not Yes and No; but it him it is always Yes.”
Our problem is that we are unwilling to completely to Jesus Christ, even we monks—maybe monks more than others, because we profess, we SAY we choose him to be our chief good, but then we renege on our given word. How? We waste time with nonessential communications, with satisfactions of petty curiosity, with daydreaming and planning, with chasing after our likes, and trying to avoid or escape our dislikes, with furthering our paltry projects that are going to end up evaporating, anyway.
That is not right; our Lord has deserved better.
At the altar every day, in the Mass, there is re-presented his complete commitment to us, to the end.
Let us ask the Lord to enflame us with the desire to belong to HIM exclusively, and say good-bye to “the world” and our miserable preoccupation with our little selves.
Let us pray.
Keep me safe, O God: you are my hope.
Keep me safe, O God, from my foolishness: you are my hope.
Keep me safe, O God, from my selfishness: YOU, BE my only hope!