The short reading for Mondays in Week 1 of the Liturgy of the Hours during Ordinary Time comes out swinging…
Do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else’s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat. My brothers, never grow tired of doing what is right.
But, I’m a manager? Isn’t doing no work but interfering with everyone else’s work my job description?
In all seriousness, it is a good kick in the butt to get moving today.
From yesterday’s reading from the Rule of St. Benedict, this is one of my favorite sections:
And so we are going to establish a school for the service of the Lord. In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome. But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity, do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation, whose entrance cannot but be narrow (Matthew 7:14). For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God’s commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love (Psalm 118:32). Thus, never departing from His school, but persevering in the monastery according to His teaching until death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13) and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.
Thinking about a monastery, or really any Christian life, as a school where we are both always learning, always teaching, always diving deeper into the subject, that is living the Gospel, is really beautiful and strikes me.
To further expand, no one “deserves” what God has for us. For me, I parse this that I do need to have my actions demonstrate that I am reaching for something… I need to strive to be worthy of it, yet I know that I’ll never be worthy or deserving of it. It’s ultimately a gift from God.
To throw in a secular example, it reminds me of the final scene of Saving Private Ryan. Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) is dying after participating in the effort to bring Private Ryan (Matt Damon) back home. As he’s dying, Miller tells Ryan to “earn this”, meaning to live his life to “earn” the ultimate sacrifice that he and the other soldiers had laid down.
I balance in my mind that we need to strive to earn something, though we’re not capable of actually earning it.
Today’s feast day is the Holy Name of Jesus. Before the calendar reforms of the late 1960s, this celebration was held on January 2nd. It was removed outright from the calendar until 2002, where it was added to January 3rd.
In the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, we’re instructed that during the Mass, we’re to make a bow of the head when the three Divine Persons are named together, the name of Jesus, Mary, and any mention of the Saint whose feast day is being celebrated in the Mass.
A noble devotion is to not limit this to Mass, but generally bow your head at the mention of Jesus always. For me, it’s a small acknowledgment of the Biblical exhortation that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend and a similar devotion to one of making the sign of the cross when passing by a church.