Kempis’s chapter on loving the cross (2,11) asks the probing question above after expressing much consternation, using many different scenarios, regarding those who find closeness to the Lord much easier to achieve or maintain when things are going well personally or in receiving favors from God. Finding someone “who is willing to serve God gratuitously,” simply for the love of God for who He is, is much more challenging.
The first reading (Acts 9:1-20) continues our walk through the history of the very early Church. Today we get to hear the beginning of the fantastic story of Saul’s conversion — from zealous persecutor of the Christian “Way” to adamant proclaimer of the Gospel — through the direct intervention of Jesus Himself. Ananias, most certainly an exemplary disciple of Christ’s since he was entrusted with the initial care of Saul/Paul, answers without hesitation, “Here I am, Lord” when called. After an understandable initial concern about the man he is asked to retrieve, due to Saul’s well-earned reputation, Ananias went without further adieu to Saul, blessing him with the invocation “Saul, my brother.” If the Lord says that this persecutor is His “chosen instrument,” the faithful disciple has no hesitation in embracing him as a fellow brother in Christ.
Ananias is a shining example of what it means to serve God gratuitously. The last in a long line of prominent biblical figures to answer the Lord’s call with “Here I am!” (see here), he declares himself a man of action, ready, willing, and able, at a moment’s notice, to do Jesus Christ’s bidding without any expectation of personal gain.
This early apostle (see his words above: “the Lord has sent me,” “sent” being the meaning of the word “apostle”), is worthy of imitation. We, too, are called and sent by the Lord to do His work in the world. We are the Body of Christ, called to be His hands, His feet, His eyes, His ears, His mouth, not seeking any reward but the knowledge that we are doing what we ought. I have taken as my motto, evident in the name of the blog, and alluded to elsewhere by Kempis in this chapter, these words from Luke:
When you have done all you have been commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” (17:10)
Let us all strive to always maintain this disposition regardless of circumstances.
Ananias restoring the sight of Saint Paul (1631) by