Tuesday, September 6, 2016

do such things only as may profit us for eternity

Since therefore, brethren, we asked of the Lord concerning the dweller in His tabernacle, we have heard, as a precept concerning dwelling there, “if we fulfil what is required of a dweller there.” Therefore must our hearts and bodies be prepared as about to serve like soldiers under holy obedience to these precepts; and whatsoever our nature does not make possible let us ask the Lord to direct that the help of His grace shall supply. And if we wish to escape the pains of hell and attain to eternal life we must hasten to do such things only as may profit us for eternity, now, while there is time for this and we are in this body and there is time to fulfil all these precepts by means of this light.
from the prologue of the Rule of St Benedict

I often think that the words of St Benedict apply as much to those outside the monastery as those within. Every Christian, after all, lives in some form of a community of faith. The parish, for example, is also a faith community - is it not? And so there is value for all in reading the Rule, whatever their circumstance of life. 

As an aid to those who wish to read a little part of it daily, it has been broken down into shorten readings for each day. Above is today's. I think there is much wise counsel to be found there. Consider the words: 'we must hasten to do such things only as may profit us for eternity, now, while there is time for this and we are in this body.' They bring to mind for me the parable of the rich fool:

"The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?'  And he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." 
Luke 12. 16-21

Life is short, eternity is long, and tomorrow may never come. Now is all we can be sure of. And that is the time, to paraphrase St Paul, for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2.12) 

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