Daily Meditations on the Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 7:49-50

To be read: February 3, June 3, October 4

The sixth step of humility is, when a monk is content with the lowest and worst of everything, and in whatever tasks assigned to him he holds himself as a poor and worthless workman, 50saying with the Prophet: “I am brought to nothing and ignorant; I have become as a beast before You; yet I am always with You”(Ps 72[73]:22-23)

At first blush this sounds like a most demeaning way to walk through life, however, in step six, Benedict exhorts us to be content.  As St. Paul proclaimed to the Church at Philippi, while he was incarcerated and facing death, “Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).  It is our fallen nature to want to be recognized for our accomplishments and to be rewarded for our work.  However, Scripture points out that anything we have comes to us from God.  St. James says, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).  We are merely servants of our Lord.  When we humbly recognize this fact, the humble servant can “in whatever tasks assigned to him hold himself as a poor and worthless workman,”  We are to be content with whatever position the Lord has assigned to us, knowing that we “can do all things in Him who strengthens [us].”  

This is a challenge for us in both the Church and the world.  In our secular lives, are we willing to obediently do a less-than appealing job for our employer?  Are we willing to let someone cut in line in traffic, or clean up someone else’s mess?  Do we want, like the Pharisees, for people to see the sacrifices we are making in time, talent, or treasure to help the Church?  Can we learn to be content and do what has been assigned to us, letting God receive the Glory?

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