Reflection: Tuesday of the 2nd Week

Mass, Tuesday, January 19, 2010
First Reading: 1 Sm 16:1-13
Responsorial Psalm: 89
Gospel: Mk 2:23-28

As we begin the week when many of our schools celebrate Marianist heritage and the life of our founder, I find it quite providential that the readings of today’s Mass connect with issues of discernment and being chosen, and how our commitment to Marianist religious life binds us to abide by our most important set of “laws”: the evangelical vows.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains to the Pharisees, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” In essence, he challenges all of us to look beyond the letter of our religious laws and rituals and consider the values promoted by the spirit of those laws.

Applying this to our own lives as Marianist religious, we see something quite similar when our founder writes about our most important laws—the evangelical vows—in his letter to the retreat masters of 1839.

Chaminade writes, “The letter kills but the spirit quickens.” He warns about the dangers of living only the letter of the vows—where we know the practical boundaries so that we can maximize personal gain within those limits—and not the spirit, where we can miss out on reaching the blessed state of holiness promised by living the spirit of the vows.

For example, living the vow of poverty not only means following the practical limits of our budgets, knowing what can and can’t be done within those limits, but always putting all of our gifts (time, patience, talent and disposition of openness) at the service of our brothers and our world—being good stewards of our treasures.

Living the vow of chastity not only means we can’t get married, have a active dating life or maintain preferential relationships, but always seeking to love unconditionally all people, particularly our brothers in community.

Living the vow of obedience not only means doing something because “I’m told to do this,” but also to seek the wisdom of God as spoken through the voices of out brothers in mutual discernment about our lives shared in common.

Living the vow of stability not only means, “I’ve got tenure now!” and “I don’t have to do all those initial formation pieces anymore!” but also living a Marianist life with the same happiness, joy, passion and enthusiasm of when we first entered the Society of Mary.

In other words, we must move beyond the letter of the vows and conform our attitudes to the spirit of the vows.

Just as David was chosen to follow his vocation in the first reading and responsorial psalm, we, too, are asked to follow our vocation—wherever that might lead. As we prepare ourselves to receive the Eucharist, let us pray that we grow in faith to conform our attitudes not just to the letter, but to the spirit of the vows that govern our lives as Marianist religious.

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