“[D]o willingly what depends on you, to the best of your ability and knowledge” (IC 3,7,1) | “I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.” (Acts 20:26-27)

|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter VII: ”How Grace Should Be Hidden Under the Guardianship of Humility” (third entry)

Kempis has Christ telling us that we have a duty, even when feeling arid or anxious and not receiving consolations, to live the Christian message. The Lord doesn’t need us, absolutely speaking, but He has ordained that His message of Good News be carried to the ends of the earth by those who declare faith in Him (see Mk 16:15).

|Today’s Gospel Reading: Acts 20:17-27

Acts tells us of the incessant journeying of Paul as he endeavors with passion and urgency to evangelize as many regions as possible in the time on earth that God had given him. Now he wishes a final farewell before returning to Jerusalem where he knows not what he will find awaiting him. He has been informed by the Holy Spirit that “imprisonment and hardships await” him and he seems certain that he will never again see the Miletans and Ephesians that he is addressing. He leaves with a clear conscience, not holding back, but preaching the whole truth, whatever the consequences. He closes with the words above.

|Reflection

It is not at all hard to imagine the difficulties Paul encountered (which he was not reluctant to express explicitly) and frustrations experienced (that he no doubt felt interiorly) in his ministry. Yet, I don’t recall an instance when these challenges ever deterred him from pressing forward, maybe with even more conviction. We need to be more like Paul. No matter what life throws at us because of our faith, we keep up the fight “do[ing] willingly what depends on [us]” so that we can in good conscience say that we are “not responsible for the blood of any of” those whom we have encountered who looked to us for Christian example by a living out, in word and in deed, of the fullness of truth.

Paul Leaves Miletus (c. 1857-60) in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (click the picture for its provenance and other paintings like it)

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