IF YOU WANT TO BE PERFECT, GO SELL ALL YOU HAVE... AND COME, FOLLOW ME. When the young man Antony heard these words at the liturgy about the year 270, he experienced them as directed personally to him by the Lord. They lived on in his heart after he left the Church and he soon acted upon them. Since his life as reported on by the Patriarch of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, proved to be the inspiration for countless monks, Eastern and Western, through the centuries, this can be viewed as one of the chief sources of the monastic movement. The mystery of the Word of God acting upon the human heart and touching the depths of the Spirit remains active in the Church today. It continues to instruct and move men and women causing them to change their lives, to leave their homes and families and to strive to follow the Lord Jesus. So that what was written in the Epistle to the Hebrews remains true today: "The word of God is living and efficacious, sharper than any two-edged sword, searching out the division of the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow, and judging the reflections of the mind and the thoughts of the heart (4: 12)."
And so, Brother Gerard, as you undertake the office of Lector in the Church of God, you begin to have a special role in regard to this word of God that is read at the Liturgy to the community. What is proclaimed is the message of salvation, first preached by Christ himself, and then entrusted to his apostles who were inspired by the Spirit of Jesus to elaborate further and develop the message he brought as new needs arose. In order effectively to communicate this word you are to cultivate it first yourself, and strive to be more fully united with our Lord whose grace is conveyed through your agency as you proclaim the sacred text.
All of us as baptized Christians and more particularly those of us who are called to the same vocation Anthony followed are invited daily to take the inspired words as our guide, to interiorize them and put them into practice. May the Eucharist we offer this morning so unite us with the Lord Jesus as to make his word more active and fruitful in us than ever before. Then shall we, as individuals and as a community, carry on the work that Antony so effectively engaged in, as witnesses to the love and holiness of God, and as brothers and sisters concerned for one another and for the good of all people.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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