Prologue to the Rule: Listen, children of God, to the guidance of your teacher. Attend to the message you hear and make sure that it pierces to your heart, so that you may accept with willing freedom, and fulfill by the way you live, the directions that come from your loving Father.
This first sentence of the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict, speaks to me in a profound way. St. Benedict is a teacher, and one that I have made a public vow to follow. I must be open to the Word of God whenever and wherever I may hear it. I must let my heart be pierced by the Word of God and to be open to sharing that Word with others God may put in my particular path. I must be a vessel for His Spirit so that I "co-operate" with God's plan for my life and for the lives of those with whom I come in contact.
Now, none of this is easy and more often than not, I'm afraid, I do not want to co-operate, nor do I want to share the Word with those I am not fond of!
A guest Priest at my home parish today spoke of Jesus' healing of a leper, an "unclean" person in His midst (Gospel Reading, Mark 1:40-45, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B). He told a story of how the late, great Archbishop Fulton Sheen once met with members of a leper colony of 500. He had brought with him several silver Crucifixes to give to each leper. When he was approached by one particular leper, Sheen realized that one of the man's arms was totally gone from the elbow down and that the remaining arm was sheathed in linen cloths due to the severity of his sores.
Bishop Sheen hesitated, and then simply dropped the Crucifix into the outstretched palm of the leprous man, rather than placing the Crucifix into his palm and thus, physically touching him. He immediately realized what he had done; he went on to say that that day there were 501 lepers in that colony. He had failed to carry the Gospel message to this leprous man while he was handing him the very symbol of our Redemption!
This story spoke to my heart and brought me to tears. How many times have I looked the other way, crossed the street, failed to meet the eyes of my Lord shining through the eyes of a stranger, a person in need? I judged them unclean. I disobeyed my Lord. I have failed Him, time and time again...
I have left unheeded not only the Gospel message but Benedict's orders to "fulfill by the way you live, the directions that come from your loving Father."
Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.. forgive me Father, for I have sinned...