Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
At a recent retreat at my other home church, my priest said something (paraphrased) that will stick with my forever: “I’m a Franciscan because the charism addresses things inside of me that needs to be killed for the Kingdom of God.” As Christians, we must all realize that there is something in all of us that needs to be killed, namely sin. I have my own sin, specifically in how I relate to others. My journey into the Benedictine life not only address this interpersonal sin, but calls for me to kill my sin for the cause of Christ.
I remember my first day of preschool in a very, very clear way. I stood in the door of the room and immediately started judging people. In second grade, I was placed in a group for advanced readers. We weren’t supposed to know, but I knew that I was a superior reader than most of my peers. In high school, I was nearly a walking, living, patron saint of clean, arrogant living. In college, I was still in my shell, but as I grew older, I realized that not everybody’s like me. Not everybody is Sarah.
I had to accept it.
Part of my ministry as a Benedictine postulant involves pursuing hospitality for my neighbor. If you can’t already tell, I sometimes struggle to accept my neighbors. In fact, it’s easier for me to cast my line of judgement and count on my own “superiority.” Of course, Christ counts this as nothing. In fact, Jesus said it would be the meek that would inheritable the earth, not the ones who counted on their own goodness and righteousness.
I have to continue, by God’s grace, to kill my own attitudes that sometimes arises regarding my neighbors. Through a Conversion of Life, I’m learning to give my faults over to Christ day after day after day. I’m learning to be more like Christ through daily practices and study of the Scriptures. Finally, I’m learning to turn from my own tainted holiness and into the life of Christ that calls for me to throw down my guard, deny myself, and embrace the neighbor that calls.