Thursday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time

Mark tells us in the first chapter that Jesus astounded people by teaching “as one having authority.” Matthew concludes the Sermon on the Mount with the people being similarly amazed. We see that teaching with authority in today’s gospel. What is needed from His listeners, then and now, is reverence.

Reverence has been defined as “the virtuous capacity for awe, respect, and shame in the face of what cannot be changed or controlled by human effort.” The capacity can only be realized through membership in a community that instills a sense of limits and respect. Such membership forms conscience. Conscience requires loyalty in the community. Loyalty is reciprocal.

In a monastic community, then, this loyalty involves the mindfulness that is the first step of Benedict’s ladder of humility. Benedict knew the key to a holy life is a holy attitude; that is an attitude of reverence, of respect for God and for the brothers. This includes, he notes, those who are older, younger, unimportant, useless, or in opposition to us. We have an important daily reminder of this in our communal prayer. Benedict tells us to rise out of reverence for the Trinity when the doxology is said at the conclusion of a psalm. At that time, we bow to our brothers across the choir at the same time we revere the Trinity, we revere one another made in that image. We become master of our lower inclinations by enlisting in the service of the Higher.