The fruits of love

This short reading is appointed for today at Evening Prayer:

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:9-12, Knox translation of the Bible)

As I read it, it occurred to me that this little reading almost sums up the Rule, and the way we walk in Christian meditation. Benedict’s wisdom comes in giving us a Rule that is rooted in, and built upon, scripture. For example, today’s reading from the Rule concerns the place of those with special artistic talents in the monastery. They’re to use their gifts for the good of the community, and not to become puffed up or vain because they’re gifted. Benedict instructs that, if in fact the artisan does become conceited, the superior is to remove permission for them to practice their gift until they become humbled. Paul’s injunction to humility rings out loudly in this passage. The gifts the artisans bring are valuable inasmuch as they give glory to God, and help others to be in relationship with God.

As I think about the text from Romans, and about today’s reading from the Rule, I can’t help but reflect upon my own life. Sometimes I’m certainly not humble. I’m acknowledged for my talent in some areas in my work and personal life, and sometimes I get ‘puffed-up’, and stand on my own dignity. While I do consciously place myself in humble positions, and reject exciting titles, I do sometimes get caught up in this pursuit, which, ultimately, is meaningless. I try to be humble, to practice my gifts for the good of those with whom I work and live. I try to be a servant, to be child-like, as today’s gospel at the Eucharist encourages. Sometimes I’m not all that good at it. The world hooks into us, to keep us ensnared, consuming, running in the maze like a rat. And it’s very good at it. Those of us who follow Jesus are called to a different set of priorities.

I went to the Eucharist this afternoon. It was quiet and meditative, followed by meditation. In the silence my legs were sore. I felt fidgety. But I kept coming back to my mantra. When I read from Paul this evening and was reminded of the fruits of love, I was grateful to God for giving me these graces today.

This is probably a bit of a ramble. But, let it all be for God’s glory, and to further his work. Amen.

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