|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter IX: ”That All Things Should be Referred to God as Our Last End” (first entry)
Our spiritual thirst is only slaked by Christ; there is no other fountain, not any “private good” as Kempis says further on, that will satisfy us. By serving God “freely and spontaneously” we continue to be refreshed by this “living water” that sustains us here and sets us up for eternal bliss.
|Today’s First Reading: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
With Pentecost coming tomorrow, it is appropriate that the Church’s lectionary ends the Easter Season with the closing words of the Acts of the Apostles. We would all love to know more about Paul and his remaining adventures, but hearing that he made it to Rome, the center of the world of his time, to successfully evangelize a few Jews, but mainly the pagan Gentiles, is a great comfort. The closing words, above, are a stirring encouragement that Paul stayed true to his convictions and preached boldly even while a prisoner. No doubt, based on the amazing growth of Christianity that we cull from other historical records, his ministry was extraordinarily fruitful and his disciples, undoubtedly, numerous, quickly spreading throughout the empire.
Did anyone better epitomize a disciple who “freely and spontaneously serve[d Christ]” than St. Paul? “He received all who came to him” and proclaimed the Kingdom and Christ. He knew trouble lay ahead (as it already had behind) because of his dedication to the Gospel. This certainly inspired him to make very good use of the remaining time the Lord allotted him to do the work consigned to him by God. He drank deeply from the “living water” that is Jesus, and was happy to share it by the bucket-full with others.
Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.u Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’” He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. (Jn 7:37-39a)
The waters of Baptism blessed us with spiritual life. They also gave us a mission, strengthened by Confirmation, to evangelize. We, like Paul, are to “freely and spontaneously serve” Jesus and His Church. We are to proclaim the Kingdom and teach about Jesus “with complete assurance” that the Spirit will help us (giving us “grace upon grace”) and we are to proclaim “without hindrance” the entire truth of the Gospel. God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Do we?