Feast of St. Matthias
“As the Father has loved me, so I love you. …This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you.” We are to pass it on. We are to follow His lead as He follows the Fathers lead. He said, “The Father and I are one.”
We began this week with the counsel to follow an exemplar. We are to follow the Good Shepherd Who loves His sheep and we are to do the same. How? Sheep follow on instinct. We are rational and have free-choice; we don’t have to follow if we don’t want to.
St. Thomas Aquinas says love is seeking the good of the other for the others own sake. St. Bernard says it is a union of wills. That’s how we are to use the mind and the will. It is definitely a challenge for the self-centered. It is done by a change in our sense of goodness and the importance we give to it. Most of the day we act for the good of satisfaction; we get it by acquisitiveness. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just not the only thing.
The other thing is the important-in-itself. The goodness is inherent. We respond to it with reverence. Reverence is recognition of goodness in another that one defers to. Reverence is St. Benedict’s first step of humility. It is mindfulness of what matters most. To “matter most” it must be the ultimate goodness and thus make the greatest difference. As Christians, followers of the shepherd, the important-in-itself is what we live toward and we must develop our awareness of it. We are drawn to the imitation of Christ. Christ and the Father are one. Union with the Father is the greatest good, the most important-in-itself.
Thus, reverence is the mother of all moral life; it opens one’s eyes to value. By it one is able to grasp value (i.e., authentic goodness) and appropriately respond to it. That’s what the Rule of St. Benedict is all about. In other words, the monk chooses the important-in-itself over the merely satisfying. That distinction separates one from the world.
Without a cultivated sense of reverence, we cannot put Benedict’s principles, our principles, before one’s own personality. And without that we rational, free-willed creatures cannot follow the shepherd.