Monday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Scripture Readings: Gen 28:10-22a; Mt 9:18-26
“Truly God is in this place…and I did not know it.”
We all believe that God is everywhere, but we celebrate His presence in certain places, such as here in church, and at certain times, such as Eucharist, Office, and special solemnities such as this Thursday when we remember St. Benedict.
In these times and places we celebrate the presence and the power of God. St. Benedict calls us to on-going mindfulness of this presence, power, and love in his first step of humility and indeed in the day-to-day structure of our way of life. We call it Co-operative Grace. This is our hearts, converted from stone to flesh, using our freedom to do good works that make us useful to God and neighbor and thus moves us gradually to full transformation of our thoughts, words, and deeds in conformity to Jesus Christ.
I recall sitting in this chapel on my pre-solemn vows retreat. I reflected on the ways in which the formation process of the previous six years had “pinched” and that I did not care for being pinched. Yet, I was very sure that I wanted to take solemn vows. The mindfulness that “God is in this place” told me that the grace of God—and only Hs grace—not only brought me through those years, but formed a promise that the grace would be there for the years to come. And it has.
Each professed member can recall such experiences. They are often described as experiences of desperation. Later they realize, “Truly God was in that experience…and I did not know it.” At such times of fear we struggle for that sense of God’s presence and with the woman in the gospel we might say, “If I but touch the tassel of his cloak…” perhaps His presence and power will sustain me. The struggle is for faith; it is for perseverance. This is because conversion is continual. It is both moral and spiritual: it is an effort to perform right actions together with an effort to grow in authentic relationship with God and neighbor that constitute our continual moral and spiritual conversion. A very important task of formation (and all the time after that) is to answer the question:
“What will separate us from the love of Christ?”1 (Rom 8:35).
1. HINR:The right answer is nothing.