|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XV: ”How We are to Regulate Ourselves, and What We are to Say in Every Desirable Thing” (third entry)
Above, find the closing words of Christ to the disciple. This is to be the attitude of the Christian: one of striving for “worthy and perfect” service to the Lord trumping any personal desire that would impede that mission.
For this Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is fitting that we highlight the last words of the episode of the finding of Jesus in the temple at the age of twelve. This Gospel tells the familiar story of how, on the return trip from the Holy Family’s annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem unbeknownst to His parents. Mary and Joseph search for Him for three days before finding Him interacting with the priestly class in the temple. In response to their expression of anxiety, Jesus responds as though they should have expected Him to be “in my Father’s house.” He then obediently goes with them. All this prompts Mary’s response above.
Kempis’s Christ implores the disciple to serve Him well while bemoaning the fact that he is unable to serve his Master worthily and perfectly. The Christian disciple need only look to the Blessed Mother for the exemplar of worthiness and the epitome of perfection. From the moment of her conception she was the spotless instrument of God who would conceive and bear His only Son. Her “Fiat!” as a young teenager set her course for the rest of eternity. Yet she didn’t receive all at once a revelation of all that would happen to her and her Son in their earthly lives. She pondered events in her immaculate heart, a heart that, we are told just a few verses earlier. would be pierced (see Lk 2:35). A heart that the baby Jesus and, I wager, the child Jesus, the adolescent Jesus, and the adult Jesus, rested His head against often. Every beat was for Him.
This is what we should dare to approach in our lives. Every word honoring the Lord, every action according to God’s will, every heartbeat an expression of love. And perfect trust in Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!