“Is it a great thing to serve You, Whom every creature is bound to serve? No, it ought not to seem much to me to serve You; but rather this seems great an wonderful to me, that You deign to receive as your servant and number among your beloved servants I who am so unworthy and poor.” (IC 3,10,2) | “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim 1:9)

|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter X: ”How it is Sweet to Serve God by Despising the World” (second entry)

Kempis’s words of the disciple, at first glance, should strike us as odd. Do we not think the answer to the initial question should be resounding in the affirmative? Yet, the author wishes to emphasize the point that we should not be focused on the status discipleship brings but only on our own unworthiness to carry that mantle. Earlier in the section, the disciple acknowledges his own corruption but then lauds the mercy, grace, and friendship — all undeserved — that elevates him to the position of being a special servant of God.

|Today’s First Reading: 2 Tm 1:1-3, 6-12

The beginning of this epistle has Paul once again greeting Timothy, whom Paul has ordained. In what we heard today, Paul gives encouragement to Timothy in his ministry, with an emphasis on “courage.” The gifts Timothy received through the Spirit, “power and love and self-control,” enable the faithful disciple to remain steadfast, to not be ashamed of Christ, Paul (now in prison), or the Gospel, and to endure well suffering (undoubtedly already experienced by Timothy in his travels with Paul).


The emphasis from both Kempis and Paul today is on our call from God to be disciples despite our unworthiness. It is “according to his own design” that the Lord designates us for our important roles, that only we can fulfill, in building up His Body on earth. There is no reason to exalt ourselves for being set apart; rather, it is our duty and obligation to pursue our designated mission for love of God and neighbor, despite our being “unworthy and poor.” The result of our calling and labors should be gratitude to God: for being made worthy to evangelize in the first place and for any good outcomes from our faithfulness that ultimately blossom.

St. Timothy, Minology of Basil II in the Vatican Library, via Wikimedia Commons
St. Timothy, Minology of Basil II in the Vatican Library

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