A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB
We hear in the Gospels about the schedule of Jesus. What was on his work list was very simple: “Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness” (Matthew 9:35). That was His work; that’s what He did.
I was thinking of the importance of teaching, and how according to the Rule of St. Benedict the Abbot does the teaching, but every one of you teaches as well. Your actions teach. Are you a good teacher? What is your class? What are you teaching? These are important questions. We hear from St. Benedict in his Rule what he would like to see in teaching:
…Anyone who receives the name of abbot is to lead his disciples by a twofold teaching: he must point out to them all that is good and holy more by example than by words, proposing the commandments of the Lord to receptive disciples with words, but demonstrating God’s instructions to the stubborn and the dull by a living example. Again, if he teaches his disciples that something is not to be done, then neither must he do it. (RB 2.11-13)
We should all look at this in our lives. What are we actually saying by our actions? Are we saying one thing and doing another? Are we expecting one thing and then not expecting it of ourselves? Think if everyone acted like you all day, how would it look? It might just be the most wonderful thing in the world, but it does help to ask that question. This is a part of renewal and conversion. I think in community it’s hard not to hold ourselves accountable. Somehow whatever we do always comes back to us. But even if this wasn’t the case, we hear from St. Benedict, “Hour by hour keep careful watch over all you do, aware that God’s gaze is upon you, wherever you may be” (RB 4.48-49). So God too is watching. What is the discipline in your life that helps you?
Remember how important your life is. Whether you like it or not, you are sisters!* You have an impact on your community. You do. What is that impact? This is for you to think of. Remember that everything God made is very good, so you have no excuse by saying you were made bad. You are wonderful in the eyes of God. Don’t put aside the impact you have. Don’t belittle it and think you’re nothing or that nobody sees you. That is completely untrue. You are seen and you are loved. Look honestly at your life, and if you’re looking honestly you will see the good as well as the not-so-good. Capitalize on the good – invest in it! Do all you can to be all the good you are; the rest will fade away. I wish this for everybody.
*This meditation was addressed to the community of nuns at the Abbey, where only sisters were present.