One of the elders said: Just as a bee, wherever she goes, makes honey, so a monk, wherever he goes, if he goes to do the will of God, can always produce the spiritual sweetness of good works"
Reading: Matthew 25:31-40
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The great secret of monastic life, which on the surface looks like total withdrawal from human society, is that years of solitude, silence, and prayer, if they are undergone in the right spirit, lead to an expanded heart. Thomas Merton says, "Father, I beg you to keep me in this silence so that I may learn from it the word of your peace and the word of your mercy and the word of your gentleness to the world: and that through me perhaps your word of peace may make itself heard where it has not been possible for anyone to hear it for a long time."
Joan Chittister, a contemporary Benedictine, puts it this way: "To the Benedictine mind, life in all its long nights and weary days is something to be praised, death is the rivet of joy, there is no end to the positive. Even life in hot fields and drab offices and small houses is somehow one long happy thought when God is at its centre."
This joy is meant to be shared, whether or not people understand where it is coming from. How do we share it? By looking them in the face as they pass us on the street. By smiling at them. And by praying our silent prayers for their relief from pain, for their protection from evil, and for the opening of their hearts to the God who loves them beyond belief.
Action and prayer
Today, I will pray for the strangers I pass, for their pain, temptations and fears, for we all have these.