And the Lord, seeking his laborer in the multitude to whom He thus cries out, says again, “Who is the one who will have life, and desires to see good days”? And if, hearing Him, you answer, “I am the one,” God says to you, “If you will have true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips that they speak no guile. Turn away from evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it”.
And when you have done these things, My eyes shall be upon you and My ears open to your prayers; and before you call upon Me, I will say to you, ‘Behold, here I am'”.
What can be sweeter to us, dear ones, than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold, in His loving kindness the Lord shows us the way of life.
Having our loins girded, therefore, with faith and the performance of good works, let us walk in His paths by the guidance of the Gospel, that we may deserve to see Him who has called us to His kingdom.
For those that think that the Christian religion is just about “evading Hell” the Scripture verse our holy father St. Benedict choses to show with what the Lord tries to seduce us proves otherwise. “Who is the one who will have life, and desires to see good days”? The Lord puts happiness before us. To call us to Him, He appeals in a way to our self-interest. But this is no mere earthly happiness. While we may have moments of happiness and consolation in the here and now, they are fleeting. No; the happiness He proposes is eternal; it is the promise of once again walking with Him in Eden, of living in the New Jerusalem in His presence.
If we do answer “I am the one” then there are implications. We are made for praise. We normally praise God with our mouth. Our mouth cannot at the same time be to praise Him and to curse others. Also, there should be no hypocrisy in our words: they should not be of praise while we do evil.
“Turn away from evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it.” It seems like a vague proposal, but the rest of the Rule will be an elaboration on exactly what it means to turn away from evil and to do good. The spiritual life is not just made up of negatives (dont’s), but moreso of positives (do’s).
Peace – Pax – a quality that has become the motto of the Benedictines. Yet this peace is not the mere absence of conflict – how could it be when we are in a life and death battle? Pax inter spinas. No, it is the peace of having the Lord indwelling within us even when all around is conflict.
Ending today’s passage of the Prologue we are reminded that we aren’t owed Heaven; it is the Lord who calls us back out of his steadfast love. In this day and age, when we speak mostly of rights and things owed to us, this is a sobering reminder that we are not in charge: we are creatures (and rebellious ones at that); God is Creator. If we deserve to be with Him, it is because we have participated in the death and resurrection of Christ, persevering in the completion of His sufferings.
So far the Rule has been straightforward. All that has been said to the monk easily applies to any Christian, even for us in the world. The Lord will call us to labour in His vineyard at any hour, so we must listen for His call. The salary, independent of the hour at which we began our toil? Eternal happiness. Could we desire anything more?