Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 4:20-33

To be read: January 18, May 18, September 18

Your way of acting should be different from worldly ways. 21The love of Christ must be preferred to all else. 22Do not give way to anger. 23Do not foster a desire for revenge. 24Do not entertain deceit in your heart. 25Do not make a false greeting of peace. 26Do not turn away someone in need of love. 27Do not swear to any oath, lest it prove false. 28Speak the truth with heart and tongue. 29Do not return evil for evil(cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9). 30Do no injury to another, but bear patiently the injury done to you. 31Love your enemies(cf Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27). 32Do not curse them that curse you, but rather bless them. 33Bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10)

When we have denied ourselves, taken up our cross and begun to follow Christ, we must put our love for Him before all else.  The precepts in this section are not randomly chosen instructions.  Each one of these tools will aid us first in our relationship with God, and next in relationship with others—if we properly employ them.  But the key is found in verse 21:  “The love of Christ must be preferred to all else.”  When we actively seek Him in prayer and work, in worship and in relationships with others, then we will fulfill the call to make our “way of acting…different from worldly ways.”

When we have begun to accept and receive the transforming love of Christ, then we will no longer “give way to anger…[and] entertain deceit,” or be hypocritical making “a false greeting of peace.”  And our decision to prefer Christ, combined with the empowering grace of the Holy Spirit, will allow us to “speak the truth with heart and tongue.”  When we employ these tools, the Love of God will work to change our hearts and turn us toward the other.  The Holy Spirit will teach us love for our enemies, and thus not to “return evil for evil.”  Our “way of acting should be different from worldly ways.”  That will happen when we prefer Christ and His Way over the way of the world, and accept the grace of His Holy Spirit to do His work.

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