|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XVIII: ”How Temporal Miseries are to be Borne with Patience Imitating the Example of Jesus Christ” (fourth entry)
One last time in this chapter highlights the closing paragraph. Despite all we know of Jesus’ life and works, it still can be difficult to become excited about our faith and the great things the Lord has done for us, even when things are going well — never mind when “temporal miseries” come along.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 8:28-34
The last words of today’s Gospel say much about the townsfolk Jesus encountered. Having gone into Gentile territory and encountering two dangerous men possessed by demons, Jesus exorcises the evil spirits into a herd of pigs per their request with just two words. The pigs run into the sea and drown, the swineherds tell the people of these astonishing events, and all come out to beg Jesus to leave.
I suppose one could say that the reaction of the Gadarenes was more than tepid — more like outright hostile. Maybe they didn’t like that Jesus was imperiling their livelihood considering the destruction of the pigs (consider: when is the Lord “inconvenient” to our desire for earthly goods”); or could it be that He frightened them with this great power (consider: what causes us to shrink from the awesome power of God causing us to ask Him to leave our “district”?); or what if they were just not ready to receive the Almighty in their midst (consider: are we like the young Augustine, regardless of our age, in saying, “Lord, make me pure, but not yet!”). In any case, we have much less excuse than these poor Gentiles for pushing away Jesus. They likely had never seen or heard of this Man before. We have the wealth of His miracles and teachings in Scripture, reinforced by nearly two thousand years of Church teaching and scholarship, to guide and inspire us. How can we remain “tepid”? As it says in Jeremiah, “Is not my word like fire” (23:29)? How is it possible to be indifferent knowing what we know, and having the Spirit as we do? Let us not suffer the fate of the Laodicaens in the book of Revelation:
[B]ecause thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. (3:6)