The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXX: “Of Asking the Divine Assistance, and of Confidence of Receiving Grace” (second entry)
These words that Kempis puts on Christ’s lips come immediately after He chastises the disciple for seeking consolations and external delights. What is reinforced here is that it is in Jesus that we find true consolation and the delight of mind and heart that cannot be attained elsewhere. Deliverance from trial and tribulation can only be secured in prayerful trust in the One who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us.
|Today’s first reading: Jer 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22
Today we hear the opening words of the “Book of Consolation” in Jeremiah. Likely written at the time of the siege of Jerusalem by Babylon (587 B.C.) or shortly thereafter, Jeremiah finally brings some comfort to a people whom he has long warned of devastation and who are now experiencing it. The city will be rebuilt, the Temple restored. God has rebuked His wayward people but will never abandon them.
When we put together the two quotes in the headline we learn something very important about our God: no matter what we do or how far we stray, God is always with us desiring our return to Him so that He can restore us and make us better than ever before. The Chosen People constantly were drawn away from Yahweh by following the gods of foreign lands. We are tempted to fall away from Christ due to the pull of temporary worldly consolations and delights. Kempis often speaks of mortification in order to keep our focus on God. This is good advice. Fasting and abstaining of our own accord from even good things helps to prepare us for those times when we are deprived of comfort, consolation, health, and so on. It keeps our focus on what is really important: eternal life with the Lord.