The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXXII: “Denying Ourselves and the Renunciation of all Cupidity” (first entry)
Christ continues to emphasize the importance of self-denial so that one will “understand all things.” The disciple concurs but recognizes the difficulty of attaining it (“this is not the work of one day, nor child’s sport”). Christ urges the disciple to pray for “heavenly wisdom” to overcome worldly affections.
|Today’s first reading: 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a
Elijah, running for his life after receiving a death sentence from Jezebel, first hopes to die after an exhausting day on the lam, but receives heavenly sustenance. Then he pours out his heart to the Lord, discouraged by the killing of other prophets and the bounty on his head. God tells Elijah to go to the mouth of the cave in which he is hiding to await the Lord’s coming. Many fantastic occurrences present themselves before the Lord becomes present in “a still, small voice.”
Elijah needed heavenly wisdom in his despair. What was next for him? The answers he sought came not in some ostentatious way but rather in a whisper. This should encourage us to see the Lord in the little things. In what ways, and through what persons or events, is He speaking to us? Is it through a soft-spoken worldly wise person, a small child whose wonder and innocence spies something we long ago had filtered out, a gathering that did not quite go as expected, or the quiet of an empty church? Our tendency is to look for the explicit sign of the Lord’s message for us. Today’s reading tells us that the Almighty can speak most powerfully through subtlety. We are encouraged to quiet ourselves, remove ourselves for a time from the tumult (as Jesus did in today’s Gospel) and be attentive to the gentle promptings of God. The world is full of distractions. Our Father and His Son ask that we concentrate on them to find the peace that come from embracing true wisdom.