Wednesday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey

Jesus seems to be telling us today that following Him, that going to the Kingdom of God, is going to require deliberate, conscious effort. That means we have to pay attention; deliberate, sustained attention. We are to center our lives on this endeavor.

In short, we are to set our hearts on it. We are to believe in it, guide our actions toward it, and care about it most; it is to be the object of our faith, hope, and love. Something this important comes with principles about how to keep the heart focused.

Can those principles in the scriptures be reduced or eliminated in light of advances in medical and cyber technologies and enlightened cultural attitudes? Jesus says, “Not until heaven and earth pass away.” In other words, never.

The Christian way of life is not about managing well. The first Great Commandment tells us it is about wholehearted devotion to God. It is challenged by a divided heart. The commandments, precepts, Rules, etc. that we follow do not so much qualify us as they keep us focused, paying attention to what matters most. And this attention, if it is wholehearted, will require endurance…not involuntary suffering…endurance; Deliberate, sustained endurance for the sake of what one cares about most.

Love grows stronger the more dear is that which we renounce and the more burdensome that which we accept. It also makes an impression on “others.” We keep the 2nd Great Commandment when we make that impression on an “other”. I have never heard a senior monastic express regret that he or she gave their entire adult life to God in this way of life. That impressed me.

Wholehearted dedication to God and respect and good example to neighbor are what Jesus is calling for. He showed that in His teaching, His healing, and His cordiality to sinners. When Jesus fulfilled the law, He simply showed reverence.