June 18, 2014 - WEDNESDAY OF 11TH WEEK:

2 KINGS 2:1,6-14 ; MATTHEW 6:1-, 16-18

In the Gospel passage we have just heard, the Lord Jesus gives us instruction on purity of intention and simplicity of heart.  We must avoid any tendency we have to want to impress others with our virtue; at any rate, we must not allow such a tendency to predominate to a point where our primary motive is to make a favorable impression by acts of charity and generosity. Rather, we are to cultivate our interior dispositions so that we strive to deal with others for their welfare, not in order to make a favorable impression.

Our fathers in the way of prayer and monastic life took this teaching with an earnestness that led them to explore their inner life with attentive analysis so as to have assurance of their actual motivation.  They applied this care not only to the matters of almsgiving but extended it to the whole of their dealings with others. As a result it was not long before the Catholic tradition evolved a spirituality that sought to remove all obstacles to acting from the single motive of attaining to union with God.  Since certain of the more ardent and devoted believers were also men endowed with gifts of practical intelligence they came to understand that the motivations for our actions are often more complicated than we are consciously aware of.  Many activities, even those done in solitude, and often our relations with others, have more than one level of significance for us. We are, in fact, multilayered.  Thus it happens that we act with one intention consciously, but at the same time, are influenced by very different motives that bear upon our choices.  If this sounds rather complicated, well it is.  That is why some of the holiest and wisest of the saints stressed the need for self knowledge in order to grow in purity of heart.  And so providing time each day not only for spiritual reading and meditation on the word of God, but also for self-examine so as to recognize the various inner influences on our choices and decisions.

Prior to today's first reading we learned that the great prophet Elijah sought out solitude as he confronted the demands of persevering fidelity to his vocation as witness to God's will.  He entered the cave of his heart so as to discover the way to carry out his mission in a time of troubles.  His efforts proved successful so that he was able to hear God's voice, not in the noise of the storm but in the silence of his retirement.  Later, on Mount Tabor, he was found worthy to appear along with Moses to enter into dialogue with the glorified Lord Jesus.  May we too listen to the God speaks to us here at this Eucharist, as it did to him, in the quiet voice heard only in the depth of our intimate, interior self, in trusting faith.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger