“Nothing…ought to give such great joy to him who loves you and knows your benefits, as…[to] be as willingly despicable and neglected and of no name and repute in this world” (IC 3,22,5) | “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt 10:22)

|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXII: ”Remembrance of the Innumerable Benefits of God” (second entry)

Kempis, following Christ’s promise of encountering suffering and persecution for the devout Christian, continues to urge the disciple to “great joy” in accomplishing God’s will, especially when counted least, last, despicable, and neglected. We are to please the Lord above all things, without counting the cost.

|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 10:16-23

Jesus continues to advise His closest collaborators, the apostles, on what they can expect to encounter for His sake: hatred, arrest, scourging, persecution, even death due to the betrayal of a loved one. This is the price of Christian witness. But the Spirit will speak through them if they persevere, so they need not worry. Endurance through all these trials means salvation.

|Reflection

I don’t think there are many folks that wish to be hated. Yet this is what Jesus promises to His most ardent followers. But what a reward for the steadfast: eternal bliss with the Blessed Trinity! No wonder Kempis speaks of the “great joy” of being considered despicable and finding oneself neglected. I am reminded of the opening of James’s letter:

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas 1:2-4)

In these most troubling times, when the vindictiveness and immorality of the culture is reaching a fever pitch, persevere in the Truth — may we not allow anything or anyone disturb us or cause us to move from the Rock, the firm foundation of “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). It is our salvation.

On the New Martyrs of the Middle East: An Orthodox Christian View ...

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