|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter VIII: ”Of the Mean Estimation of Oneself in the Eyes of God” (second entry)
When we realize our nothingness compared to God, and that nothing we can do on our own merits God’s love, we are in a good place. Yet, the Lord loves us gratuitously and completely as if we were His only creation. We owe Him the same love back.for who He is and what He has done for us.
|Today’s Gospel Reading: Jn 17:20-26
Above we read the last words of the Last Supper Discourse and the High Priestly Prayer. What wonderful parting words from Jesus to His closest collaborators, the apostles. Jesus’ arrest is imminent, and He will be going away for awhile, but the love of the Father remains in them, and so does Jesus. They may forget this for a time, but the third Person of the Holy Trinity will remind them of all this in a few short weeks.
This motley group that Jesus called certainly didn’t deserve the love of Jesus based on their own merits, particularly in light on the abandonment of Him that Jesus predicted would happen. Yet, the Lord leaves them with the promise of the love of the Father and the Son and the help of the Holy Spirit (which He spoke of frequently previously in this discourse).
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. (1 Cor 1:26-29)
Paul is not speaking only to the citizens of Corinth here. He is referring to the apostles and to us as well. Weak, foolish, lowly — put me first on the list. We can only boast of our own sins — and those are nothing of which to be proud. Yet, we are loved with a love undeserved but gratefully accepted and the promise that we will not be abandoned:
I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Mt 28:20b)
These consoling words are the last recorded by Matthew in his Gospel. This is a wonderful takeaway for all Christians. Whatever life brings, Christ promises to be with us (for Catholics and Orthodox this is fulfilled in a special way in His Real Presence in the Eucharist). Only we can drive Him away by serious sin and/or the belief that we cannot be forgiven (commonly held to be the sin against the Holy Spirit). Will we drive Him away or, like the disciples on the Emmaus road, say:
Stay with us (Lk 24:29)
(For an edifying and relatively short read, check out Saint John Paul II’s apostolic letter, his third last, by the same name (Mane nobiscum Domine), in which he introduced the Year of the Eucharist.)