Ave Maria Meditations
JESUS has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross-bearers. Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation. Many will sit down with Him at table, but few will share His fast. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him.
Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread, but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion. Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross. Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor; but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while, they fall to complaining or become depressed.
They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation. Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give thanks.
Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love! Are not they to be called hirelings who always look for comforts? And they who think only of their own advantage, do they not show themselves to be lovers of self rather than of Christ? Where will a person be found ready to serve God without looking for a reward?
It is hard to find anyone so spiritual who is willing to be stripped of all things. Where will you find a person truly poor in spirit and free from all attachment to creatures? Such a one is a “rare treasure brought from distant shores”(cf. Prov 31:14).
If we were to give up all our possessions, it is still nothing; if we did severe penance, it is but little; if we acquired all knowledge, still are we far from virtue. Even if we had great virtue and fervent devotion, we would be lacking that one thing necessary above all else. And what is that one thing? That leaving all things behind, we should leave self, renouncing our self completely and keeping nothing of self love. And then when we have done all things that we know we ought to do, let us think that we have done nothing. We should not regard as great that which may be considered so by others, but rather let us in truth look upon ourselves as worthless servants.
As our Lord, the Truth, has said: “When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say, ‘We are useless servents” (Lk 17:10). Then we will be truly poor in spirit and able to say with the Prophet: “I am alone and afflicted” (Ps 25:16). Yet there is no one richer or more powerful, no one more free than we are if we know how to renounce ourselves and all things, putting ourselves in the lowest place.
Fr. Thomas a Kempis (Imitation of Christ)