- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

June 18, 2019

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO [1]

11th Tuesday in Ordinary Time

This morning Jesus is saying to us, “Love your enemies”. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.

That is what God does. He is Love, and uncreated Love acts in a person with wisdom and gentleness. It has great power to destroy anger, envy, sadness, and all self-centeredness, and it brings into a soul the virtues of patience, gentleness, peace, and love of your annoying neighbor.

A person who is guided only by reason finds it hard to be patient, calm, and charitable to others when they give him grief and do him wrong. But for someone who truly loves God there is no great difficulty in putting up with all this, because uncreated Love fights for him and destroys these emotions of anger and sadness better than any self-help program could do. God himself gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. It’s no big deal to love the lovable: any run-of-the-mill sinner can do that.

Jesus expects more of us. He wants us to take after our heavenly Father, to live out our God-created identity. When a true lover of God suffers at the hands of others, he is strengthened through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Whatever wrong or injury people do to him, he always keeps his humility. He does not despise his persecutors or speak ill of them, but he prays for them with pity and compassion more earnestly than for those who never harmed him.

In short, live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. His level of love and humility are beyond human nature. But the Holy Spirit can make us sharers in the divine nature, so that we live like true lovers of God, and children of our heavenly Father.

As monks, we learn to become men of prayer, helping other people out quietly and unobtrusively, not expecting to see any results. The monastery is a quiet, secluded place where we won’t be tempted to role-play before God. We can just be here as simply and honestly as we can manage. The monastic life will shift the focus from us to God, and we will begin to sense his grace.

After ascending all the steps of humility, St Benedict promises that “the monk will quickly arrive at the perfect love of God which casts out fear.” And he concludes: “All this the Lord will by the Holy Spirit graciously manifest in his workman now cleansed of vices and sins.”