Monday of the Third Week of Easter
What is the 'Work of God'? We encounter this particular phrase in today's Gospel. Jesus says to the people, " This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent". In Bendictine communities, the Work of God refers to the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily prayers that set the 'pulse' of each day. The ancient text known as the Rule of Saint Benedict sets down the way of monastic life in minute detail. There is much in this ancient rule that can be misunderstood even though countless commentaries have been written over the centuries. What cannot be misunderstood is what Saint Benedict says is this: "Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God". (RB 43.3)
The first reading begins the story of St. Stephen, one of the earliest martyrs of the church. Beyond his great works and preaching, his countenance is the perhaps the most striking aspect of his story of martyrdom: 'his face was like the face of an angel". Indeed, this is what most confounds the Sanhedrin throughout his trial and murder. In the Gospel, Jesus admonishes the people to seek not the temporal food he has given them, but rather the food that endures to eternal life. The 'work of God' is belief in him rather than following because of miracles and wonders or what temporal gains one can obtain. For us, it matters not whether in we find ourselves in a parish community or a monastery. The "Work of God" always comes back to prayer and relationship, labor and discipline.,
For most of us, the 'Work of God' does not involve communal recitation of Liturgy of the Hours but rather private prayer and meditation, lectio divina and the Eucharist that constitute our 'work'. The mission is the same...to believe in the one sent by God. In prayer this day, let us simply ask for a deeper belief in Jesus. Though praise and petition and thanksgiving is part of our precious time with the Lord, but may we plead specifically for belief as we participate in the 'Work of God'.