Sunday, January 17, 2016


We imagine that all the Gospels answer a question posed by a second generation of Christ’s followers, perhaps the children and grandchildren of the apostles and disciples. “What was Jesus like? What was it like to know him? What was it like to be with him?" 

How extraordinarily attractive Jesus must have been. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he says. And so perfectly does he express this good news of God’s reign, in his healing, in his preaching, in who he was, that he says, “Come away with me,” and at once the first disciples leave everything behind. Was it just so clear? Why else would they have left everything without hesitation? 

There is a rather bizarre medieval legend that John the Beloved Disciple was actually the bridegroom of the marriage feast at Cana. The story goes that, having witnessed the power and beauty of Jesus as he transformed gallons and gallons of water into wine, the groom abandoned his bride there and then and became Christ’s follower. As odd as it may sound, this legend has the same flavor of immediacy. 

Just as the first apostles abandon father, nets, boats, everything to follow Jesus, our work as monks is to make ourselves constantly available to the irresistibility of Jesus, available to be drawn by Christ, fascinated over and over again by the goodness and beauty of God, completely defenseless before his call. The bells are our constant summons to put all other things aside. Such attentiveness is grace and gracefulness. 

Bust of Christ by Gianlorenzo Bernini.