NOVEMBER 23, 2005 Ė AWHUM- LUKE 21:I2-19
I MYSELF WILL GIVE YOU AN ELOQUENCE AND A WISDOM THAT NONE OF YOUR OPPONENTS WILL BE ABLE TO RESIST OR CONTRADICT. Jesus was concerned to prepare his followers for the difficult times that lay ahead for them. In various ways he tried to prepare them for misunderstanding, rejection and persecution that he knew would come. Whereas our Lord had spoken for the most part in general terms about future testing, by the time Matthew wrote his Gospel such trials had already come upon many members of the Church. Having witnessed the sufferings of the faithful for some time allowed him to fill in certain concrete details that our Savior had not mentioned in advance. He wished to forewarn others that similar temptations could befall them so they would not be surprised into thinking that God had deserted them in their time of need. On the contrary, he reminds them of our Lordís constant care for his own and reminds them of the reassuring promise Jesus made: I MYSELF WILL GIVE YOU AN ELOQUENCE AND A WISDOM THAT NONE OF YOUR OPPONENTS WILL BE ABLE TO RESIST OR CONTRADICT
Even though the difficulties of the Christian life are not as severe as those encountered by the early Church, yet we too need his assurance. We know our weakness by experience; we feel shaken all too readily by opposition, by criticism and misunderstanding. Since in our human condition we can be sure of having such trials arise we need to be ready to face them while standing steadfast and unwavering. We must learn to look to the Lord with confidence and trust in his grace and the strength and light it supplies. Our monastic fathers taught us that we can expect frequent testings. Some come from our fallen nature in the form of passionate thoughts that tend to selfish pleasure, or to anger and other unworthy desires. Others come from the demons who can disturb our recollection by stirring up distracting images and memories; finally, we can be tried also by our brothers whose temperament or character and experience differs from ours. It is by remaining faithful to Godís will which calls for obedience, chastity, and meekness and doing so day by day that we learn to trust more in grace than in our self. By such efforts to live according to the Rule and by practicing true charity and ready obedience we come to experience the Lordís help active in our life. This builds up confidence in him and love of him. In this way the monk and the faithful believer can practice the virtues that our Lord refers to in this passage. And we can come to know the blessing that he promises in the final words of this text: "Your perseverance will win you your soul."
As we offer this Eucharist may we receive the grace and strength we need to persevere in trust and faith, daily striving for union with Godís will through fidelity to our duties and our vows.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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