|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XIX: ”On Supporting Injuries; and Who Shows Himself to be Truly Patient” (first entry)
To achieve patience in suffering it helps to look to our Lord for the perfect example. In whatever form His difficulties took, Jesus did not complain or express undue frustration. Rather, He kept after the mission on which He was sent by His Father. Any reproach of Jesus was unjust. When it came from the religious leaders, which it most often did, the insult was particularly egregious. Jesus was certainly accused of things He never did or said (just consider His trial) yet He ultimately went like a lamb to slaughter. Here, Kempis has Jesus saying that patience like unto His own is key to enduring those who treat us wrongly. He goes on to say that our overriding consideration should be the one who will ultimately “crown” the patience we show in adversity.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 9:1-8
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is fresh off His rejection in Gadara, stepping off the boat in His home town, when He is immediately brought a paralyzed man on a stretcher. Jesus declares his sins forgiven which causes a mental outcry of blasphemy from the lurking scribes (see the headline). Jesus, being wise to them, rebukes them for their “evil thoughts” and then proves His provenance by completely healing the unfortunate prostrate man. The onlookers “were struck with awe and glorified God.”
Patience is difficult enough in the minor annoyances of day to day living: a slow driver blocking our way, sporadic internet service, a throbbing headache, noisy neighbors. But what about the big stuff? False accusations, verbal or written attacks on us or our family and friends, disparaging of our faith, off-handed questioning of our sincerity. Jesus had to endure all these things. Yet these never disturbed His inner peace nor did they deter Him in the slightest in His mission. When He did respond, He did so in a manner that was completely justified and always entirely truthful. So this is a lesson for us: may we have the patience of Christ who could never be justly criticized yet was often taken to task. Everything He said, everything He did, was out of love, inviting all He encountered to be part of the Kingdom. Whatever happens to us, we must have the same attitude and drive to bring others to the Lord, regardless of how they treat us.