The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXVIII: “Against the Tongues of Slanderers” (second entry)
This short chapter has to do with the awful way persons sometimes speak of and to one another. Our call is not to return evil for evil but, rather, we are to maintain inner tranquility by taking comfort in the Lord.
|Today’s first reading: Jer 15:10, 16-21
Jeremiah is given to recourse with the God who sent him on a mission to preach repentance to the wayward Chosen People. Jeremiah’s jeremiad laments his even being born. He says “all curse me” for the message he brings. Jeremiah began his work with enthusiasm but now only finds continuous pain. God, in reply, asks Jeremiah to repent; in doing so the people will “turn to you…they shall not prevail.” God closes with the words after the ellipsis.
It is certainly a part of our nature that we would like the approval of others and are hurt and angered by calumny, detraction, or other expressions of disfavor toward us. It is a part of our fallen nature to desire retaliation. Jeremiah does not speak of retaliation here, but he is profoundly discouraged. However we feel due to challenges we face from others, Jeremiah and Kempis show us the person to whom we should first appeal: the Lord God. As he did with this prophet, God restores, delivers, and rescues those who walk in His ways, do His will, and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31). Turning to the Lord is not the first instinct for most of us, but it is the correct approach spiritually and practically:
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34a)
Delay is preferable to error. (Thomas Jefferson)