|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXII: ”Remembrance of the Innumerable Benefits of God” (first entry)
Kempis urges us disciples to constantly bring to mind that any good that we have has been received from God. We do not have any reason to glory in ourselves when we appreciate our gifts; we only can thank God and realize how far short we fall in appreciating and using these benefits. And when we are rejected for sharing those gifts, in this we should also rejoice, as the apostles did, as alluded to above.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 10:7-15
Continuing yesterday’s exhortation, Jesus speaks further about the apostles’ mission. Heal, exorcise, raise the dead freely as these powers were given freely. Carry no money or luggage but rely on those to whom you minister to take care of your physical needs. Send your peace upon the houses/towns you enter; if the place rejects this gesture, leave and “shake the dust from your feet” in judgment.
We know that Christ’s early missionaries had rousing success in their ministry (see Lk 10:17-20), but one wonders how often they met with disinterest, derision, insults, even bodily harm. This certainly would have been disappointing, maybe to the point of frustration, even discouragement, if there were a string of these reactions in place after place. We know that, at least eventually, they rejoiced in rejection (see Acts 5:41).
I recall Mother Teresa’s wise words, “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.” There is much encouragement for us in this statement. But who doesn’t like to receive affirmation from others in his good work for the Lord? It is certainly heartening to see others come closer to the Lord in our ministry. At what point do we “shake the dust” on a project, initiative, or interaction that does not yield fruit? We see the precedence for this from Jesus Himself above. Are we being directed elsewhere by the Spirit? A determination here requires patience, discernment, and much prayer. But always we must “embrace with great love” God’s will and our neighbor.