Kempis begins this chapter on amendment of our whole life (1,25) with the words above. He is speaking specifically to those who have committed to the religious life, but all of us can take lessons from it. Certainly, religious have “left the world” in a special way but, as we’ve often seen, Kempis calls all Christians to “leave the world” by renouncing any undue attachment to material things. A (super)natural outgrowth of being increasingly “vigilant and diligent in God’s service” is being decreasingly interested in passing things.
Today’s short excerpt from Jeremiah (Jer 11:18-20) finds the reluctant prophet again (thus we get the word “jeremiad“) bemoaning the fact that plenty of folks are out to get him. He entrusts his cause to the Lord and he asks vengeance on those plotting against him. He certainly must once again be recalling the mission he received as a youth and does not want cut short his work for his God.
Like Jeremiah, per Kempis’s call, we too are to keep foremost in mind “for what end you came here” — not specifically the monastery (unless it is your calling) but more generally life in Christ through baptism. Living that life intentionally is challenging — not only because of the weakness of our fallen nature but because the world militates against a Christian outlook. Unlike Jeremiah, we don’t ask for vengeance against our enemies (in fact, they are the enemies of Jesus whose rage is taken out on us — the good news: Mt 5:11-12), rather we pray for their conversion (see 1 Tim 2:3-4).
Jeremiah, as depicted by Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel ceiling