Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Jesus sent out the Twelve with the following instructions, “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words — go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, in your presence I break away from the spiritual laziness and indifference that deprives me of the fruit of this prayer which I need so much. I know my poverty, and you are immensely rich in all that I need. I am so slow to give, whereas you are prompt and total in your gifts to me. I offer you this unruly heart of mine to do all that you wish of me today.
Petition: Lord, please grant me the grace to be a better apostle today than I was yesterday.
- Go Out: The command is “Go.” The Kingdom cannot be spread while sitting in an easy chair. We cannot wait for the world that needs Christ to come to our door. Letting opportunities where we can serve pass by, hoping someone else will take the initiative, is simply a “no” to Christ’s command. “Go” means sensitizing our heart and eyes to those who are hungry for Christ, seeing in the faces of our family members and co-workers a hunger for his power and grace. In this culture that is sick and waning, “go” means reaching out to those who need to know Christ, so that his Kingdom will expand. We cannot take the easy route of preaching to the choir; we must reach out to those professions and fields of study that have lost all sense of the dignity of the human person – especially medicine, law, politics and education. This is what the King is asking. What is the response which I am giving to my King?
- “Nobody Gives What He Doesn’t Possess”: Christ’s command is to give from what we have received. If every day we make ourselves more aware of the gifts we have been given through Christ’s power, we will be better at giving Christ to others. As apostles, we go not with our own power; rather, we carry Christ’s power to heal, save and conquer evil. It is he who drives the mission, who makes the apostles a team. How often do I calculate what I can contribute to the mission based only on the strength of my human qualities? How often do I give only from what is just me, rather than from the graces I have received from the Holy Spirit? Moreover, do I measure my effectiveness solely from an individual perspective, rather than from that of the whole body of the Church, in which other apostles are locked arm-in-arm with me for the cause of Christ? God’s saving power is found where obedience and unity are, not where only natural talents, gifts and abilities are at play.
- Failures and Disappointments: Christ affirms that when we reach an impasse in our lives, this is, in and of itself, no sign of the lack of the authenticity of our mission. Its results are tied to the free-will choices of others, as well as to a plan where apparent barrenness is part of God’s economy of salvation. A period of few fruits in the mission can be a period of consolidation of our commitment to follow him in season and out of season. Take this time to repel all discouragement and doubt and to prove how authentic our “yes” is. A pure “yes” will seek God’s will and the mission at hand simply because he wants it, not for any easy or short-term results.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I wish to ignite my own zeal for your Kingdom from the furnace of divine love which burns in your heart. I offer you the promise of a soldier in combat: to be courageous, honorable, persevering, and worthy of the name I bear – “Apostle of the Kingdom of Christ.” I work aware of the fact that I have only one life to live on this earth. Not one minute must be wasted in comfort-seeking and selfishness. My heart is ready for the mission, Lord; please sustain it today with the strength of your own.
Resolution: Today I will review my daily and weekly time commitments before Christ, and I will ensure that I am using my time as fruitfully as I can to expand his Kingdom in the world.