The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXIX: “How God must be Invoked and Blessed in Time of Tribulation” (first entry)
The disciple cries out to the Lord in a time of inevitable trial and tribulation, asking that it turn out for his good, yet still troubled and afflicted by his circumstances. He appeals for fortitude and patience while realizing that he “well deserved to be afflicted and oppressed.”
|Today’s first reading: Jer 26:1-9
Jeremiah again finds himself in deep trouble with the southern kingdom of Judah for giving warning of the devastation to come if the people do not repent. By simply conveying what the Lord asks him to proclaim, he is held captive and threatened with death — by the religious leaders! At Mass tomorrow we will see how this turns out.
It is, sadly, not uncommon for many around the world to be faced with martyrdom for their Christian faith. The words of Kempis’s disciple hopefully is on their lips. While we do not (yet?) face the prospect of giving our lives for the Gospel, we must have fortitude to maintain the conviction of our belief in Christ regardless of the consequences. Let us turn to St. Paul for encouragement:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:35-39)
Only sin can distance us from God, and only grave sin can separate us from His love completely (not that He wants to, or even is able to, stop loving us; but we, through a devastating thought, word, or deed, definitively can stop loving Him). Let us repent and humbly cry for the Lord’s help to persevere in goodness and beg for the grace to do so.