JULY 10, 20005- GENESIS 46;1-7, 28-30; MATTHEW 10:16-23

REMEMBER, I AM SENDING YOU OUT AS SHEEP AMONG WOLVES. DO NOT WORRY, THE SPIRIT OF GOD WILL SPEAK IN YOU. Jesus himself showed by his example what trust in Godís guidance and strength enabled him to do and suffer. He here seeks to fortify his disciples by telling them in advance that he realizes that the mission they receive from him of witnessing to him and his teaching will expose them to rejection and even hostility. The very nature of his teaching is opposed to the ways of the world as it functions. It stirs up opposition, even hostility. The respect for life, refusal to resort to violence, concern for the weak, the poor, the marginal inevitably meet with disapproval and when insisted upon with rejection and finally violence. The defense against such treatment that he offers is the inner strength provided by the Holy Spirit.

We know that the disciples found this a most difficult charge and were unable , prior to the resurrection of Jesus, to follow this way. They simply could not understand how it could be in keeping with their concept of Godís dealings with his people. The passion of Jesus, followed as it was by his rising from the dead and his appearances to them in the course of which he instructed them on the hidden meaning of the Scriptures changed their understanding. The subsequent sending of the Spirit at Pentecost completed the work necessary for them to put this doctrine into practice and persevere in it joyfully, even as they met with hostility, prison and finally death.

As Jesus explained, it is by reliance on Godís Spirit that is the source of the discipleís confident fidelity. Increasingly in our own culture it is the case that preaching and insisting on the values and beliefs that our Lord taught and represented is met with incomprehension, criticism, disapproval, and finally rejection. At times the faithful have met with public and private support for their beliefs and practices; at other periods, and in certain countries even today, the Church has been vilified and the faithful harassed and even imprisoned and sent into exile. Any one who would prove a faithful follower of the Lord will need to prepare for such treatment and learn to accept it without being excessively influenced or discouraged by it. Learning the independence of mind and of heart requisite for such a way of life has always been considered an essential task of the spiritual life. This task has never been easy; it is human to wish to be understood, appreciated, respected and to feel the absence of such approval. It is appreciably assisted by a serious study of the faith and tradition of the Church.

Progress in the spiritual life requires that we learn to listen to the Spirit within us, to respond to His promptings and in prayer to become more sensitive to the strength and light He offers to us. In the measure we respond to the grace of His Presence through prayerful meditation, we become more aware of attachments and of dependencies that hold us back by engaging our affections. This self-knowledge is a first step to taking the often painful measures required to free ourselves from such hindrances to grace, as St. Augustine and our Cistercian fathers so well understood. We have opportunities every day to advance in such awareness through dedication to prayer of the heart and by walking in the presence of God in our daily occupation. May it be our first care to seek his will and make it the guide and support of our choices and the goal of our strivings. Then we shall increasingly find our strength and our hope in the Spirit of Jesus, not only in times of peace and in success but in temptation and trial, in rejection and loss. Above all, we shall know by experience the joy of life in the Spirit who, as Jesus says in todayís Gospel, will speak in us and will unites us with the Father in the love of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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