“The eye of the intention…must be purified, that it may be single and right; and it must be directed to Me, beyond all the different objects that come in between.” (IC 3,33,2) | “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24)

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXXIII: “The Inconstancy of our Heart, and of Directing our Final Intention to God” (second entry)

Kempis closes this chapter with the words above. A recurring theme: be single-minded in intention of looking to Christ without any earthly thing causing us to lose sight of Him.

|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 16:24-28

This passage is sandwiched between Jesus’ first prediction of His passion, death, and resurrection and the Transfiguration. Thus it seems fitting that He speaks of suffering (carrying the cross), death (losing one’s life), and glory (Jesus coming again in splendor to repay each person based on his conduct). This time is coming soon, the Lord says.

|Reflection

Keeping one’s eyes on the prize means keeping one’s eyes on the cross. Another paradox of Christianity. Ignominy leads to glory. Jesus promised a cross so we should not be surprised when it comes the way of a Christian. No cross, no crown. No Good Friday, no Easter Sunday. Easy? Hardly. Necessary? Definitely. Thus, Kempis is particularly wise in his nearly continuous emphasis on detachment which also includes detachment even from health and well-being. We don’t need to look for these things in a masochistic way. What we must endeavor to do is, when the little and big trials come our way, to accept them docilely for the forgiveness of sins and the redemption of souls all the while asking the benevolent Father for an increase in faith, hope, and love. The sincere and faithful follower will not be denied in this life or the next.

Christ Carrying the Cross (about 1513-14) by Sebastiano del Piombo

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