Richard Meux Benson: Religious

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Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” He said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

“We must remember that our life as Religious is not something over and above the ordinary Christian life. It is only the ordinary Christian life developed under such regulations as are rendered necessary for individuals, because the Church has at large has fallen away from her true spiritual calling of conscious and habitual union with Christ.”

Richard Meux Benson in The Followers of the Lamb (London: Longmans, Green and Company, 1900) 6, as recounted in What Do You Seek? Wisdom from Religious Life for Today’s World by John-Francis Friendship (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2021) 12.

For years I rationalized my disobedience.

I thought to myself, passages like Today’s Scripture relate to the rich man but don’t relate to me. But in the context, the disciples proclaimed that they had left everything to follow Christ. For their obedience, Jesus promised them a hundredfold blessing.

So, why do so few people radically obey like the first disciples when such blessing is promised? Or in a word, why are so few religious? I find that the reason is they rationalize that such living is “something over and above the ordinary Christian life.” But think about it. Nothing about the Christian life is ordinary.

Just like nothing about living generously is ordinary!

To return to our calling and to maintain union with Christ leads us to a religious way of life. Again, it is far from ordinary! And, a fruit of this religious living is generosity, as our lives cease to focus on ourselves, but rather on loving God and others with all we are and all we have.

Pause today. Consider how you may be rationalizing disobedience. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. We are all guilty of this. We follow after the flesh rather than the Spirit. God forgive us and help our religious life be pure and faultless.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27