One day in Thy vestibules is better than a thousand elsewhere. (Ps 83)
Such are the words Holy Mother Church puts on our lips at the beginning of today’s Mass. Better one single day in the Lord’s house, even at its threshold, than a thousand in the tents of the worldly rich. A gaze of faith is here required, for living in the house of the Lord can sometimes mean not having all the comfort one could obtain in many other places. It takes faith, but it takes also a bit of courage, and even more, lots of love. Is it not love that was our prod when we left behind family and friends, the perspective of a career and perhaps a fulfilling marriage and family?
Those acts of faith and love are not forgotten. In today’s Gospel, the Lord Himself, in what might be considered the climax of the Sermon on the Mount, tells us that the soul which gives itself to God need not concern itself with anything, not even the most basic fundamental needs of a human being, such as food, drink and clothing. For the soul who truly seeks only the Kingdom of God, all these things, of which Our Father knows we have need, will be given even without our being concerned with them. The Kingdom of God and His justice: that kingdom which the preface of Christ the King will tell us is a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
It is the kingdom of which St Paul speaks in today’s epistle. Therein he paints two portraits, one tragically disheartening, the other magnificently encouraging. The first is that of those who walk according to the flesh, seeking the things of this world. Their works, which soil the mind and the body, cause them to abandon themselves to lustful desires, and it all ends up in idol worship and bloodshed. Indeed, the goods of this world being limited, not everyone can have them. So if the race is open to whomever can get there first, there will of necessity be conflicts, fights, and murder. In the second portrait, St Paul tells us of the fruit produced by those who live according to the Spirit, that is, who let themselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, and who seek the eternal good of their own spirit, their soul. The fruit they produce is sovereignly desirable: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering endurance, meekness, mutual trust, modesty, continence, chastity.
In this way, the great apostle was painting a picture of what every Christian community should be. If the realisation of such a program is not limited to monasteries, it is certain that monasteries should be model exemplars of it. If each of the monks strives to allow himself to be governed by the Spirit of God, if he pursues at all times the goods of fraternal communion, he will come to “taste and see how good the Lord is”, as we sing in the offertory verse from psalm 33. And we will discover the bliss of living to perfection those words of Our Blessed Saviour: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added”.