|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XVI: ”How True Comfort must be Sought in God Alone” (first entry)
This chapter of Kempis once again emphasizes the need for detachment from worldly goods and pleasures in favor of Eternal Truth, who is Jesus. He is to be our only consolation, whether we feel consoled or not. As the quote above says, all the world’s possessions do not come close to providing what God provides here and hereafter.
|Today’s first reading: 2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18
This reading from 2 Kings chronicles the fall of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) to the Assyrians and the deportation of many of its inhabitants around 721 BC. It goes on to give the reasons why this bad outcome occurred to them: chasing after other gods and participating in their rites, disobeying the commandments, rejecting statutes, and dismissing the many prophets sent to warn the people of impending destruction. Thus, “in his great anger against Israel, the LORD put them away out of his sight.”
The Israelians (the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom) believed they would find contentment and favor by following other nations’ worship of false gods. This is an ongoing problem for the Chosen People even these five hundred or more years after the Exodus. And it’s a problem even today, growing even greater still. Consider the “created goods” we hold to indispensable status: smart phones, extra and/or fancy cars, TVs and video, expensive vacations, certain food and drink,…the list goes on. Our striving for these and the next “must have” consumer item or “must see TV (or YouTube or TikTok)” can’t but take our eyes off of the ultimate prize: our Heavenly Father. And I am not just referring to eternal happiness with Him in Heaven, but also the necessary help He gives us here below to fill the God-sized space inside of us with which He designed us. How many times have we heard the sad stories of the rich and famous who ultimately found only trouble and heartache with their fortunes? Let us learn our lesson here from the sister of Lazarus and Martha and not be consumed with or distracted from what is most important:
Mary sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Lk 10:39-42)