On Our Lord’s Appearance after His Resurrection to the Disciples in Galilee.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On Our Lord’s Appearance after His Resurrection to the Disciples in Galilee.
Picture to yourself, my soul, how five hundred disciples left Jerusalem and repaired to Galilee, because, as the angels announced at the sepulchre, Jesus would show Himself there to His disciples. Imagine the different frames of mind of these disciples; some went animated by holy longing; others still doubted; others again wended their way thither with sentiments of hopeful joy. This journey to Galilee to behold the risen Saviour was the first Christian pilgrimage.
1st. Consider that of all Christ’s appearances after His resurrection this was the one most calculated to confirm the faith of the disciples. Our Lord told them beforehand, at the Last Supper, that He would appear to them again in Galilee; the angels also at the sepulcher sent a message to the apostles by the women, reminding them of their Master’s promise to that effect. Now, when our Lord actually fulfilled that promise, when He presented Himself to His disciples and thus verified His own prediction, must not that have been the means of confirming the belief of the disciples in their Lord and most powerfully strengthening their faith in His predictions? Yes, His utterances are true, His promises sure. Heaven and earth shall sooner pass away than a single word from His lips remain unfulfilled. This is indeed a consoling truth for you, who, relying on His glorious promises, have left all to follow Him. Here are five hundred witnesses at once who bear you testimony that your trust is not misplaced.
2d. Consider the ardor manifested by the apostles. Although they had repeatedly seen the Lord, although He had appeared to them in the upper room in Jerusalem and also at the lake of Genesareth, yet they did not shrink from undertaking the journey to Galilee, and resolutely climbed the steep mountain, heedless of fatigue, in order to see Jesus once more. And yet, my soul, how easily you are satisfied. If God of His charity stoops to your lowly estate, if He vouchsafes to come to you, then you are well pleased; but you are far too great a lover of your own ease to go to Him, to rise up above your ordinary, your every-day practices of devotion and ascend the mount of greater perfection for the sake of beholding Him more closely. You desire the divine consolations, the divine visitations, but you will not on this account move hand or foot, put yourself to any inconvenience. No, my soul, imitate the apostles, and constantly remember that those are truly Christ’s disciples and this applies pre-eminently to Priests and Religious who do not await His coming in the cenaculum, but who go out into Galilee, who climb the mountain for the sake of beholding their risen Lord; we mean those who spare no effort or exertion and strive solely after perfection.
3d. Consider that our Lord on this occasion, as at every other time when He appeared to His disciples, discoursed only of the kingdom of God, and the means whereby it could be attained, never speaking of useless and earthly subjects. Such conversation is not pleasing to the Lord; such are not the words that are heard from His lips. If you would enjoy intercourse with Him, if you aspire to be visited by Him you must feel disgust for the things of time and sense, and only long for heavenly things; nay, you must only love your brother for His sake, or desire what is needful for your earthly subsistence in accordance with His will. Hear what Thomas a Kempis says:
“When Jesus is present all things go well, and nothing seems difficult; but when Jesus is absent everything is hard. When Jesus speaks not within, our comfort is worthless; but if Jesus speak but one word, we feel great consolation . . .
It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus, and to know how to keep Jesus is great wisdom. Be humble and peaceable and Jesus will be with thee. Be devout and quiet, and Jesus will stay with thee. Thou mayest quickly drive away Jesus and lose His grace if thou dost decline after outward things. And if thou drive Him away from thee and lose Him, to whom wilt thou fly, and whom then wilt thou seek for thy friend? Without a friend thou canst not well live, and if Jesus be not thy friend above all, thou wilt be exceedingly sad and desolate. Thou actest then foolishly if thou put thy trust or rejoice in any other. We ought rather choose to have the whole world against us than to offend Jesus. Of all, therefore, that are dear to thee, let Jesus always be thy special beloved.
Let all things be loved for Jesus’ sake, but Jesus for His own sake. Jesus Christ alone is singularly to be loved, who alone is found good and faithful above all friends. For His sake, and in Him, let both friends and enemies be dear to thee, and for all these thou must pray to Him, that all may know and love Him. Neither desire to be singularly praised nor beloved, for this belongs to God alone, who hath none like to Himself. Neither desire that anyone’s heart should be set on thee; nor do thou let thyself be taken up with the love of anyone, but let Jesus be in thee, and in every good man.
Be pure and free interiorly, without being entangled with any creature . . . carry a pure heart to God if thou wilt rest and see how sweet the Lord is. And, indeed, thou wilt never attain to this, unless thou be prevented and drawn by His grace, that so thou mayest all alone be united to Him alone, having cast out and dismissed all others. For when the grace of God cometh to a man then he is strong and powerful for all things, and when it departs then he is poor and weak, left as it were only to stripes. In these he must not be dejected nor despair, but stand with an even mind, resigned to the will of God, and bear, for the glory of Jesus Christ, whatever shall befall Him; because after winter comes summer, after the night the day returns, after a storm there follows a great calm.” (Imit. ii. ch. 8.)
How poorly you have hitherto learnt this art, how little of this wisdom have you displayed! Will you not do better in future, and, if so, how do you intend to set about it?
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
Copyright © 2013. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.
(The opening of book II chapter 8 as well as parts 3, 4, 5 of The Imitation of Christ are quoted in depth for your edification)