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Monday, September 2, 2024

Let us get up then, at long last, for the scriptures rouse us when they say: "It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom 13:11)." Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: "If you hear God's voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps 95:8)." And again: "You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rv 2:7)." And what does the Spirit say? "Come and listen to me; I will teach you to reverence God (Ps 34:12)." Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (Jn 12:35)."

The paragraph is an insistent one, full of intensity, full of urgency. We put off so much in life--visiting relatives, writing letters, going back to school, finding a new job. But one thing stays with us always, present whether pursued or not, and that is the call to the center of ourselves where the God we are seeking is seeking us. Benedict says, Listen today. Start now. Begin immediately to direct your life to that small, clear voice within.

In this paragraph Benedict makes his first of the multiple allusions to scripture which emerge in the Rule time and time again to the point that a reader gets the idea that the Rule is simply a chain of scriptural quotations. The particular passages cited are important, of course, and give emphasis to the point of the excerpt. In these first references, for instance, Benedict reminds us that life is short, that we don't have time to waste time, that some things are significant in life and some things are not. We all have to ask ourselves what time it is in our own lives. We each have to begin to consider the eternal weight of what we are spending life doing. We have to start someday to wonder if we have spent our lives on gold or dross.

But as important as the content of the scriptural quotations themselves is the very message of their presence: The life laid out in this Rule is a life based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the prescriptions of a private guru. It is an immersion in the Gospel life so intense that we never forget for a moment what we are really about. We don't just stumble through life from one pious exercise to another, hoping that in the end everything will be all right. We don't surfeit on this life, even the spiritual systems of it, and forget the life to come. No, we run toward the light, not with our hair shirts in hand but with the scriptures in hand, responsible to the presence of God in every moment and sure that life is only beginning when it ends.