|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXIII: ”Four Things Which Bring Great Peace” (third entry)
The disciple finds himself “easily troubled…disquieted and disturbed” with “evil thoughts…and great fears.” What else can he do to find relief but “run to You” O God with perfect trust in your assistance however and whenever You desire to give it.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 11:20-24
In today’s short passage, Jesus upbraids the towns in which He preached and healed and exorcised which, even after witnessing such great events, have not repented. A harsh judgment awaits them all — worse than the destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because at least the latter would have repented had they had the benefit of the Messiah in their midst.
I pair up the two quotes in the headline because I believe Jesus’ harsh words to the towns in which He labored so diligently to preach the Kingdom were uttered in order to wake up their citizens. We know that Jesus, the Son of God, desires all persons to be saved (1 Tim 2:4). We know that His purpose was not to condemn but to save (see Jn 3:17). There is still time for them to run to Jesus, confide in Jesus, call to Jesus. We don’t know where Jesus said these words, but you can bet there were residents of these towns listening in — would they be prophets for Jesus when they returned home?
Fallen human nature is repelled when reproached for bad behavior. When we are called out for our sins and failings we can take one of two approaches: defiance due to pride or admittance in all humility. Kempis’s whole book is about imitating Christ and the one “trait” most pronounced in the Subject of this work is humility. Jesus is meekness personified. May we never dare to think Jesus does not understand the fallen human condition. He wants us to run to Him, confide in Him, and call on Him unceasingly. It is never too late to repent as long as we draw breath (remember the good thief on Calvary?). Jesus forgave His persecutors from the cross. He would certainly have forgiven and welcomed back the lost sheep of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and His home base of Capernaum if they but acknowledged their stubbornness and repented. And so with us. Let us place our trust in God wholeheartedly so that we do not suffer the fate of Sodom. The Good Shepherd is always on the hunt for His lost sheep.(Mt 18:12-14).