To be read: January 6, May 6, September 6
Having fulfilled these words, the Lord waits for us daily to respond to His holy admonitions by our works. 36Therefore, the number of our days is lengthened by a truce for the amendment of our misdeeds. 37As the Apostle says: “Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4)? 38For the Lord says: “I do not desire the death of the sinner, but rather that he turn back to Me and live” (Ezek 33:11).
This brief section emphasizes that Benedict sees the place of repentance as the essential element in dwelling with Christ. “The Lord waits for us daily…” And that indeed is good news. He waits for us to “turn back…and live”. Daily…cotidie: theLatin word used here is translated “every day” or “daily”. This is not a one-time event, and if you miss it, tough luck. Scripture emphasizes the need for daily nurturing of our relationship with Christ. He taught us to pray with these words: “give us this day our daily bread”. Psalm 68:19 declares: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up.” Prov. 8:34 tells us that “Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates.” And Jesus says that “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
But once again the ancient language of Benedict’s time causes us to pause. In verse 36 he says, “the number of our days is lengthened by a truce…” The word truce is defined as “an agreement between enemies”, or “an intermission of hostilities”. To think that we are in a hostile relationship with God is not a pleasant thought. Does Benedict think that we are in a hostile relationship with the Almighty? How can we interpret what is meant here? The word truce has fallen out of favor in common English language usage. Etymologically it derives from the Old English treow, which means “faith, trust, fidelity”. And from the Old German roots we derive, “true”. That certainly seems like a more pleasant understanding of the word. But as we see in both the Epistle to the Hebrews (12:3) and the Epistle to the Ephesians (2:14-16), Scripture indicates that we have previously had hostility toward God. For Benedict, it appears that God would be well within His rights to view that hostility as an attack. The call to repentance, then, is God’s loving truce. He allows us time to “amend our misdeeds”. Quoting Romans, he reminds us that “God’s kindness (His patience) is meant to lead us to repentance.” And Benedict assures us that the Lord does “not desire the death of the sinner”.
Certainly, for Benedict, the word truce used in this context makes perfect sense. Repentance is the essential element in calling us back to Himself and keeping us in right relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is patient: “The Lord waits for us daily to respond…” Let us not disappoint Him.