Chapter 72: The Good Zeal of Monks

1 Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, 2 so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life. 3 This, then, is the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love: 4 They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10), 5 supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, 6 and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. 7 No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else. 8 To their fellow monks they show the pure love of brothers; 9 to God, loving fear; 10 to their abbot, unfeigned and humble love. 11 Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, 12 and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.

Commentary by Philip Lawrence, OSB, Abbot of Christ in the Desert

Here we are at the second to last Chapter of the Rule–the penultimate Chapter of the Rule. Again, it is a Chapter that is filled with wisdom and love. Because it is so close to the end of the Rule, we can be sure that it is a very important teaching for us.
What is our zeal like? Do we have any zeal at all? From the point of view of the Rule, we will have good or bad zeal–we cannot be indifferent. Good zeal separates us from evil and leads to God and everlasting life and we can recognize this zeal by the following behaviors:

Try to be the first in showing respect to one another
Supporting one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior with the greatest patience
Competing in trying to show obedience to one another
Not pursuing what we think is best for ourselves but looking for what is best for the other
Giving a pure love of brothers to the other brothers
Giving loving fear to God
Giving honest and humble love to their abbot

That is really a strong program! And how wonderful the community where each of the monks is truly working this program. If we live in this way, we can recognize what it is to prefer nothing at all to Jesus Christ–and our prayer will be that Jesus Christ bring us all together to everlasting life.

May we live this way!!