Enough to satisfy the needs

Today in my parish church we observed the Feast of the Transfiguration, and were reminded in Catherine’s homily that we each have ‘moments of transfiguration’ in our lives, when the glory of God comes into stark relief, and changes us – even just slightly. Those moments on the mountain with God can encourage us to keep going, but they’re sometimes hard to recognise. The Transfiguration seems to stand in contrast to today’s reading from the Rule of Benedict, which is about the provisions that the Abbot or Abbess will make to ensure that the members of the community have enough for their needs. All property was to be held in common – I was once struck when I heard a nun talk about ‘our blanket’ and ‘our book’ – she meant the community’s. Benedict heard the Gospel warning about placing too much emphasis on things. We need ‘things’ to survive, and he makes provision for that in the Rule. But the pressing desire, reinforced by today’s world, is to consume and stockpile things, experiences, thrills and even information. We are encouraged to get more, and more, and more. There’s no need to deny oneself, because ready credit is available. But there’s a danger in this – we’ll build up vast stockpiles of stuff, which becomes ‘us’. And the stuff stops us from being free to respond to God, and perhaps even stops us from being able to recognise those moments of transcendence.

But those who look around see the danger of depending on the material and illusory for meaning. We can see it everywhere – the people whose lives are made painful by depression and meaningless. Those who are harmed by the march for profit. Those made homeless, or ruined in life by others who simply want to accumulate more.

In the silence God calls us to truth and reality. Listening takes effort, and meditation is that process of listening. Coming back again and again to listen to God. To be with God in the silence of the heart. To walk up the mountain with God, and find Jesus there in stark simplicity.

We need enough to allow us to live, but we also need to be sure that what we have, what we do and what we want doesn’t divert us from what is really important.

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