The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXXV: “There is No Security from Temptation in this Life” (first entry)
While the title speaks of temptation, Kempis’s Christ speaks of many types of sufferings we must endure, like labors, sorrows, anxieties, infirmities, detractions, humiliations, and more. Enduring all these trials with faith and perseverance attains for the Christian an eternal crown. Per the highlighted quote, the serenity we must seek is that which we know we’ll have in heaven. Looking for true peace on earth is a fool’s errand — we will not find it in creatures, but only in our Creator.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 19:23-30
The reading of the day is the follow-up to the rich young man and his departure. The one attached to wealth over God cannot be saved except with the help of the Almighty, Peter then pipes up saying that he and Jesus’ closest followers have “given up everything” for Him. Jesus promises them eternal royal thrones. He goes on to declare that everyone who places Him first will gain eternal life. These lowest will be elevated while those who gain fame here while pushing the Lord aside will come out in the lowest place on judgment day.
Being a follower of Jesus did not give the apostles much peace when they were with Him or after the Ascension. Tradition has it that all but John died martyrs (although John himself suffered much into old age). Come Pentecost, these fishers of men tossed fear overboard and worked for Jesus intently and incessantly, not counting the cost. They knew that fighting the good fight here, even unto death, would bring lasting peace and joy that could never be taken away.
I imagine they often thought of this scene from early in Jesus’ public ministry; we should be mindful of it as well:
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. (Jn 2:23-25)
Being well aware of the fallen human condition, we should know with certainty that “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come” (Heb 13:14) to find true and lasting contentment.