The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXVI: ”The Eminence of a Free Mind, which is Acquired by Humble Prayer Rather than with Much Reading” (first entry)
The title given to this chapter seems misapplied as it does not pertain to its contents. The reflection in my version of the book contains two sentences that much better summarize the content of the disciple’s words: “Perfection consists in keeping ourselves applied to heavenly things. We must make use of all things solely to please God, to serve God and to bring us closer to Him.” The medicine (anointing) of the Spirit and the love of God are indispensable for this.
|Today’s first reading: 2 Cor 5:14-17
One commentary entitles this short section, “Christ’s Compelling Love.” How apt. The Paschal Mystery of Jesus, freely taken on by the Son in perfectly obeying the Father’s will, opened up the possibility that we are able to become a “new creation,” a child of God, through baptism, leading to the lifelong hope that this earthly existence ends with our entrance into eternal bliss with the Trinity.
I will “borrow” an excellent explication of the Bible verse in the headline from the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series:
What does it mean to “live for” the crucified and risen Christ? Living for Christ means, in the first place, to commit our lives wholeheartedly to his service. Even more, because we have been incorporated into Christ through baptism, it means living as Jesus, the new Adam lived — in faithful obedience to God and in giving himself in love for others. Elsewhere, Paul describes this self-giving love as “not seeking my own benefit but that of the many” (1 Cor 10:33) and as striving to “please our neighbor for the good, for building up” (Rom 15:2). Indeed, he insists through his writings that love for Christ cannot be separated from loving and serving the members of his body (e.g., Rom 14:1-15:13). Notice how Paul marks out a circle of love: Jesus’ love, revealed most powerfully in his dying for us, has created the possibility of our walking in the way of self-giving love for the sake of others, and it is through such loving service to others that we express our love for him.Thomas D. Stegman, SJ. Second Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 137.
The verse before this one states “the love of Christ impels us.” Kempis’s disciple asks for an infusion of “the love of Your Name.” So we are impelled to love the Lord which should, as a consequence, impel us to despise worldly things and consolations in favor of heavenly considerations and the love of others. Jesus died for us, yes, but for every other person we encounter as well. We do well to remember this, no matter how we experience those encounters, in our response to them.