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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

THE foxes have boles, and the birds of the air nests: but the Son of man bath not where to lay His head. This word of Jesus is frequently to be pondered by thee, and carefully set in thy heart: who dost affect to lead a religious life. Jesus commends to thee the nobility of His holy poverty, whereby is gained the kingdom of Heaven: which also He Himself poor in the world chose and most strictly observed. Yea, He desires thee to seek no earthly comfort: for neither did He have any temporal repose here: nor built Himself on earth a material home to shelter Him. The animals have their dens to retire, and the birds their nests or crevices to rest: but Jesus set up for Himself no tents at all: nor secured for Himself, by means of another, lodging or board. But He lived as a poor beggar: He passed the way of the world as a pilgrim in haste: He departed as a stranger from a foreign land. The eternal Wisdom built not itself a house made of hands in the towns or cities, nor rented in the fertile places outside the city; but content with the common lodging of His friends, He followed the simplicity of the poor in all things: and nowhere took pleasure in the lofty tents of sinners. But what was given Him for His sustenance; this He placed in the common fund: and entrusted to the keeping of another. He desired to have nothing of His own for Himself: and used sparingly those things that natural need required. If perchance aught remained over of gifts or food: this He had distributed to the poor. Likewise He forbade superfluous care for things to His perfect followers: but to weaker brethren with considerate gentleness He allowed the necessaries of life.

Peter once urged Him to build three tabernacles, when, beside himself, he enjoyed the heavenly vision on the mount, delighted with the resplendent presence of Christ and the company of holy Moses and Elias: but because he begged what was less befitting, in this petition he was not heard; for the dwelling of Christ and the blessed is not in earthly tabernacles, nor in corporeal images: but in the happy mansion of the heavenly kingdom, which surpasses all sense and thought of mortal men. And indeed the Maker of Heaven and earth, Jesus, called the carpenter’s son, could easily build a house or temple to His name even without ax or adze: but the heavenly master and artificer of all the virtues did not come down to the depths for the sake of reforming material things; for He took thought, not of stocks and stones, nor of oxen and sheep, nor of farms and rents: but of healing, instructing, and redeeming souls. However, He declared His power by more mighty works, accomplishing cures by a light touch or a single word; He also taught wisdom by good deed and discourse: speaking of the kingdom of God, warning against the perishing joys of the world: He gathered the simple and lowly, and the proud rich He sent empty away.

Do thou also therefore lay aside all useless anxiety for temporal things, nor occupy thyself excessively with resources for the future: but cast thy thought upon the Lord and think on heavenly things. Neither toil eagerly for the necessaries of life: that later thou may mayest have abundance. Leave others also to work for themselves: that they may have whereby to live. Labour rather for thy soul and for acquiring grace: than that the flesh be well nourished, which is to be devoured by worms. See that thou sweat not too much for temporalities: and neglect thyself in spiritual exercises. It is well to seek the common good: but the spiritual rather than the earthly. It is well to eat bread in the sweat of the brow: but be not unmindful of the heavenly bread. “Make use of thy own labour in the days of thy vanity,” saith the Wise One: “lest perchance thou leavest all to an idle and ungrateful man.” Thou canst not alone enrich all posterity: nor guard against all losses. Endeavour rather to leave after thee an example of virtue: than a sufficiency of worldly income. How knowest whether it is expedient for thee and others to have more? Do not desire what is unsafe. For the desire will never be sated: nor is cupidity ended by the value of things. Do thou follow the poverty of Christ; and be content with the moderation of nature: for the love of Him, Who would not have either farms, or rents, or coffers, or houses. Alack, many waste their days in useless anxiety; little or seldom turn themselves to interior things: and become utterly insensible within. Lift up thy heart: cleave not with the brute beasts to things of the earth. Thou art to be fed with the food of angels: the word of God is the nourishment of souls. This is the bread of life which the Lord Jesus shall give thee: lest thou faint in the wilderness. The good and loving Master Who has promised things eternal: will not deny the temporal. Do thou seek the heavenly things: and He doubtless will add what is necessary, whilst thou art in this life.

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