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Friday, September 6, 2024

Now that we have asked God who will dwell in the holy tent, we have heard the instruction for dwelling in it, but only if we fulfill the obligations of those who live there. We must, then, prepare our hearts and bodies for the battle of holy obedience to God's instructions. What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Holy One to supply by the help of grace. If we wish to reach eternal life, even as we avoid the torments of hell, then--while there is still time, while we are in this body and have time to accomplish all these things by the light of life--we must run and do now what will profit us forever.

There is a poignancy in this paragraph that is little associated with great spiritual documents. First, Benedict stresses again that we are not alone in our undertaking to live above the dregs of life. What is "not possible to us by nature," we must "beg for by grace," he says. This is an enterprise between two spirits, in other words, God's and our own. We will fail often, but God will not fail us and we must not stop.

"God," the elder said, "is closer to sinners than to saints." "But how can that be," the eager disciple asked.

And the elder explained: "God in heaven holds each person by a string. When we sin, we cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot--bringing the sinner a little closer. Again and again sins cut the string--and with each knot God keeps drawing the sinner closer and closer."

Even our weaknesses take us to God if we let them.

It is a very liberating thought: We are not capable of what we are about to do but we are not doing it alone and we are not doing it without purpose. God is with us, holding us up so that the reign of God may be made plain in us and become hope to others. If we can become peacemakers, if we can control our need to control, if we can distinguish between our wants and our needs, then anybody can.