To be read: April 9, August 9, December 9
The Abbot’s table must always be with the guests and travelers. 2Whenever there are no guests, it is in his discretion to invite any of the brothers he should choose. 3Let him,however, insure that one or two of the seniors always remain with the brothers for the sake of discipline.
In an initial reading of this short chapter it sounds as if the Abbot is being accorded special privilege, however, the import of this discipline is the protection of the monks. “The abbot’s table must always be with the guests and travelers.” By having the guests sit with him, the abbot protects the monks from uncomfortable conversation, intrusive questions, and possibly even demonic assignments from the outside. In protecting the monks under him the abbot is manifesting the Imago Christi, even as Jesus Himself sought to protect His disciples in the Garden when He told those who came to arrest Him, “I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go” (John 18:8).
Are there loved ones whom you are called to shield? When our loved ones are threatened, it is a temptation to utilize worldly means to protect them. In the heat of the moment we can find ourselves responding with type for type: returning anger for anger, insult for insult, blow for blow. When we respond in such a manner, the devil rejoices. But Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…” (Matt. 5:38-39). Our battle is not with the person confronting us, for as St. Paul says, “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers…” And putting on the whole armor of God, we can take up “the shield of faith, with which [we] can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph. 6:11-18). And St. James makes this pattern of defense clear to us, saying, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.Draw near to God and he will draw near to you…” (James 4:6-8). God is able, and desirous, to defend your loved ones. Humbly trust Him, and not your own power and ability.
How best can we protect our loved ones while maintaining the Imago Christi? “Put on the whole armor of God”, draw near, and submit to Him.