|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXI: ”How We are to Rest in God above All Goods and Gifts” (third entry)
The disciple utters these words after hearing from Christ, whom he invoked, that He was coming to him. The disciple desperately wants to renounce worldly things to do the Lord’s will. But he recognizes that it is God who always makes the first move, that our desire to please Him is itself the stirrings of grace within him.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 9:32-38
The mission of the twelve apostles is given to them by Jesus: to heal the sick and to exorcise demons. Here the apostles names are listed. Then comes the commission: stay among the Chosen People declaring “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The Twelve renounced all things for the love of Jesus (with the notable exception of Judas whose greed and, ultimately, his lack of faith, led to his destruction). They dropped what they were doing, the careers they had built, and became special friends and servants of the Messiah (and, in the end, the first bishops of His Church).
Apostle means “sent.” But in order to be sent they first were called. Jesus sought them out. This is a vitally important precept to understand in the spiritual life. The Lord calls us to vocation — He initiates. Hopefully, this call is compelling, but it is not forced. Jesus proposes, not imposes. He desires our whole-hearted cooperation with this grace. Knowing what is best for us, He provides to us what will fulfill us most in this life and what will prepare us optimally for the next life.
Yesterday’s Gospel ended with these words from Jesus: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Mt 9:38); this passage immediately preceded today’s reading. Jesus had already prayed about and for the apostles who were currently in His fold. Undoubtedly, in talking about additional laborers, He hoped that the mission He speaks of in today’s Gospel will yield immediate fruit. But in speaking to these future bishops, and to all those to come, He also anticipated the need for proclaimers of the Kingdom until the end of time.
Let us pray fervently for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and encourage consideration of this life to those we know who seem worthwhile candidates. And let us also ask the Spirit for promptings in our own lives on how we best can advance the Kingdom in our own sphere of influence.