Look at this! It’s a picture of a very old monastery holding on tightly to the side of the mountain where Jesus was tempted by the devil after his Baptism. All around the world there are monks living in monasteries, though maybe not as hard to get to as this one! Monks are men who leave the nice things of the world to be alone with God in a community. They follow a schedule of prayer and work. They live very simply: no TV, no computer, no phone, no e-mail, no magazines. They live for God alone in quietness. A monastery is never a noisy place!
But monks do welcome guests. Believe it or not, there is a path to this monastery so people can visit the monks to pray and talk about spiritual things. The monks live a poor life – they don’t have much of anything. Jesus told us we don’t need much. They probably bake their own bread and collect water in barrels when it rains. Maybe they can grow some vegetables to eat. But they would share whatever little bit they have. It looks like water might be problem, doesn’t it? I expect there are some kind people who bring food to the monks when they visit.
Do you remember the gospel story of the devil telling Jesus to use his powers for himself instead of God’s glory? If we went to visit this monastery, the monks would all have a story to tell us. They have given up being married and having a family. They have given up having houses, cars, fancy clothes, jobs and money. They don’t wear watches, but know when it’s time to go to the church to pray when the bells ring. Do you see the bells hanging in the tower? Monks wake up in the middle of the night to pray for the world when we are asleep. They wait for the morning sun to come up in the east, remembering that’s where Jesus will appear at the end of time. They wait in joy, not fear or sadness.
But do you know what? There’s a little monk inside each of us. He’s the voice that says: “Shhh, not so noisy.” “Don’t forget to pray.” “Listen!” “Look at what’s beautiful!” “Don’t be afraid to be alone – God is here with you always.” “Make space for people in your life.” “We don’t need so much stuff.”
Don’t ignore the little monk inside. Look up at the stars. Listen to the birds. Give thanks to God for every lovely thing. Say what you have to say with fewer words. Take some moments for God’s Word each day.
Oh yeah – this too. Let’s all watch less TV. There’s not much there to help us be good.