So when is the last time you “grabbed the devil by the tail?” Or sought a big rock to dash your unruly thoughts against? Uttered something in a language you never studied? Or, as it happened to St. Benedict, had a goblet crack from rim to stem and spill out its poisoned contents? After all, we live at HOLY NAME Monastery and the evangelist Mark quotes Jesus telling us these will be our signs if we are baptized and believe in the holy name! And, on top of that, we have the command to: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
A little overwhelming, isn’t? But we had best take this message to heart all the while assured by the words that follow in the Gospel: Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God, but they (meaning we) went forth and preached EVERYWHERE, while the Lord worked with them.”
Praise God the full brunt of the message does not fall on us alone. But we must take seriously our commitment to shoulder our share of the burden to spread the Good News to all with whom we come into contact. We express this in a variety of ways in multiple community documents: in our PHILOSOPY statement, our MISSION statement, our VISION statement, our CORPORATE COMMITMENT and our CORE VALUES. We recognize and acknowledge our responsibility to harken to Jesus’ call personally and to contribute to its fulfillment in the context of our Benedictine vocation.
There is an ancient and beautiful story about the ascension of Jesus into heaven. When the grand welcome ceremony was over, the angel Gabriel quietly approached Jesus and shared some doubts. “I know that only very few in Palestine are aware of the great work of human salvation you have accomplished through your suffering, death and resurrection. But the whole world should know and appreciate it and become your disciples, acknowledging you as their Lord and Savior. What is your plan of action?” Jesus answered, “I have told all my apostles to tell other people about me and preach my message through their lives. That’s all.” “Suppose they don’t do that,” Gabriel responded. “What’s your Plan B?” Jesus replied, “I have no other plan; I am counting on them.” That fanciful story reminds us that Jesus is counting on each one of us to make him known, loved and accepted by others around us.
Perhaps what this means can best be illustrated within another story.
A man was stumbling along in a desert, thirsty and with little hope of survival. All he had was one small disposable bottle of water. When it was gone, he knew that certain death lay in store for him. But, wonder of wonders, as he topped the next dune, he saw what he took to be an old decrepit shed. He dragged himself on his elbows over to it, hoping he might find some source of water.
Ah, thank God, there was a pump outside the shack. Frantically, the man pumped the handle. Nothing happened. Then his eyes fell on a crude hand-lettered sign that read: “This pump must be primed to work.” His dreams of survival seemed dashed.
He held up what was left of the bottle of water, rolled it across his cheek, cuddled it, kissed it and prayed for faith. Then he acted. He primed the pump with all the water he had. He closed his eyes and pumped the handle. Wonder of wonders out came streams of fresh, cool water! He was saved because he gave of all he had. (Based on a story in Unity Magazine November 1986).
Pope Benedict XV expressed well the attitude and necessity of self-giving: “My deep personal sharing in the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self with them…. I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self, I must be personally present in my gift.”
Like the man who sacrificed his last drop of water on the rusty, frozen pump we step out in faith with no plan B in mind. In the words of a hymn made popular several years ago by the Medical Mission Sisters: “Give it all you’ve got!”
God loves a cheerful giver, give it all you’ve got.
He loves to hear you laughing when you’re in an awkward spot.
When the odds add up against you,
It’s time to stop and sing: Praise God to praise Him is a joyous thing!
~Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB