Readings: 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42
Come and see. Those words of Jesus are very poignant to me because a very good friend of mine told me that was the beginning of his monastic vocation. He’s not pietistic or at all conventional but hearing those words–Come and see–in a homily by his future abbot, he took the invitation literally and came to see the life in that Abbey. And that is how he came to know Jesus Christ.
Not that he instantly understood, not that he hasn’t wrestled with doubts and questions and fears. That’s the privilege of being a friend: to learn all those details and to be part of the journey, and be built up by it.
It’s a story I’ve also heard from guests at our Retreat House. It’s not that monasteries are magical places with a monopoly on God; basically the Abbey could play that role for you because it’s not your place. As such, it can take you by surprise, tilt the familiar perspective so you can view what you normally can’t see.
For us members of a monastic community, we know all too well that we’re fallible men making the effort to pull together and do God’s will. And in the process, in the little frictions as in the support and consideration, we are kept from settling into complacent routine.
Somewhere in his writing–I don’t remember where and I certainly don’t remember the exact words–Thomas Merton observed that a monastery is never a monk’s home. I can’t turn the Abbey into that controlled refuge stamped by my taste and preferences. Everyone else is unlike me with differing opinions about what makes a house a home. And that’s not bad!
That can keep me off-balance and open my eyes to see what routine and comfort would blind me to. I find again and again, that enables me to come and see even in the place where I’ve lived for over forty years.
I must go out of myself to recognize the Christ, not to overlook the Christ right there in front of me.