In the scriptures for today we hear about life and what it means to have life. In Deuteronomy we are told to
“Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deut. 30: 19-20)
Then in Luke,
“Then [Jesus] said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
Christ is the center in all of this – the choosing of Him over all things. You often hear people say when speaking of following a religious vocation, “I don’t want to do that. I have a life!” What do they gain? What do they get out of that life? But when we say, “I am going to give up everything. I am going to give my life for Him”, then we get eternal life. We give up a drop to gain eternity!
In Chapter Five of the Holy Rule, on obedience, St. Benedict says, “The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all else. The Lord says of men like this, ‘no sooner did he hear did he obey me.” Again he says, “Such people as these immediately put aside their own concerns, abandon their own will and lay down whatever they have in hand, leaving it unfinished.” That is so hard but what a wonderful practice!
Do we do this? When we hear the bell for the Divine Office do we set aside what we are doing, leaving it unfinished, in order to hasten to the Work of God? Or when someone comes to use while we are working to ask something of us – do we set aside what we are doing in order to give them our full attention? And, in turn, we should be sensitive to timing when we ask something of another. That is charity. If a sister is working in the kitchen – oven door open, food overflowing, steam everywhere – it probably isn’t a good time to ask a favor of her.
In charity, let us be attentive to the moment and be ready to stop what we are doing, in order to be fully present to one another. Truly, that is laying down one’s life.
Reflection by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB on the Mass readings for March 2, 2017.