April 2022 Lectio Divina and Oblate Reflections
Lectio Divina, Matthew 26: 20-50, The Cross of Christ
Book Discussion, Stability: How an ancient monastic practice can restore our relationships, churches, and communities by Nathan Oates
Of Gods and Men, 2010 French film directed by Xavier Beauvois
Additional Resources: Paraclete Press Lenten Series on Stability with reflections from Nathan Oates, Kathleen Norris & Michael Patrick O’Brien, Jonathon Wilson Hartgrove, and Ronald Rohlheiser. Links below.
Matthew 26: 20-50, The Cross of Christ
Stability “is the commitment to a purpose, a place, and a people…At its root, stability is the blend of two biblical concepts: patient endurance and standing firm.” (Stability, Nathan Oates) After reflecting on Matthew 26: 20-50, we consider:
How is the virtue of stability present in the gospel story? Are there similarities between what happened to Jesus in Gethsemane and what is happening in Ukraine?
Many people of Ukraine will not flee their country. “This is my home,” they say. Despite the many risks, they stay. They are rooted in their homeplace, their land. Jesus also stayed; despite knowing he was to be betrayed, despite the possibilities the next day would bring. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong for Jesus. Everyone betrays him, even the best of friends. It would have been much easier to give up when left alone.
“My soul is very sorrowful even to death.” We all struggle with the virtue of stability, but Jesus stayed IN HIS sorrow; he could have fled. Despite our difficulties, we need to die before we die as Jesus did. Jesus’ steadfastness, his stability, was rooted in doing the will of God. “Your will be done” is an exclamation of surrender that gave Jesus the courage to stay. He died before his own death; he surrendered his will. He was able to face his suffering because he had consented to let God work out what would happen next. As St. Benedict said, “keep death daily before our eyes.”
“You could not watch with me one hour.” Jesus needed friendship and accompaniment in his hour of need. We must also consider how we can simply be with others, not necessarily solving problems for others but keeping watch with them. Our stability is tested in our own relationship to the Divine.We must make hourly decisions to spend time with God. By spending time with Jesus in service or prayer, we demonstrate stability and devotion.
“Friend, do what you came for.” Jesus calls Judas friend, and yet he knew why he was there. Jesus asked Judas so that he would own his betrayal. We can ask ourselves this question as well—why do we not follow Jesus? Why do we betray others? It is only those we are close to that we can betray, but it is Jesus who loves us despite our sin. His mercy is always available to us despite our inevitable betrayal.
Of Gods and Men
We watched “Of Gods and Men,” a French film depicting the 1996 story of nine Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of Atlas in Algeria. For years the monks had lived in harmony with Muslims, yet in the face of increasing threats to their safety during the Algerian Civil, they chose to stay. Their commitment to stability led to the martyrdom of seven of the monks, having been kidnapped and assassinated.
Our commitment to stability does not come without risk. Our future discussions will center on the many benefits and purposes of stability, one of the vows a Benedictine monk or oblate promises, in addition to conversion of life and obedience, when they make their final profession.