Today’ readings are very grave, and all lean in the same direction: in a life of consistent fidelity to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to the gospel of Christ, expect hardship, but together with it, the grace of God.
To the extent that like Jeremiah, we speak in God’s name to the world in which we live, there is potential for persecution, for being “lowered into a cistern full of mud”. But sooner or later, in one way or another, the persecuted disciple is pulled out of the mud and given a new song to sing.
To the extent that we consistently follow Jesus, we can expect to endure, in various ways, what he endured – hostility, weariness, loss of heart – but for us as for him, there comes, sooner or later, the joy which Jesus anticipated, and a place at the Father’s side.
To the extent that we follow Jesus, we can expect, even in this life, the peace and joy he experienced, but also, along with the peace and the joy, fire, stress, and adversity that falls upon us precisely because we are his disciples, potentially, even coming from those closest to us in human terms. We can be sure of the happy outcome of a fidelity which draws adversity against us, but the fact remains that the road that leads to perfect and painless communion with the Father passes through the adversity endured by Jesus and the prophets.
In spite of its gravity, or perhaps precisely because of its gravity, it was essential that we be made aware of this reality. One of the reasons I love the Christian gospel is that it “tells it like it is”. Jesus has shared with us everything that is truly gospel in the strict sense of the term, that is, “good news”. But he also had the courage to share openly with us the “dark side” of being his disciples, the things that aren’t at all good news, but rather, salutary warnings. Salutary indeed, because when we know this is how it must be, it seems to me that we are at better odds of staying the course. We have a saying in French: “One who has been advised of what is to come is worth two”.
Perhaps even more importantly, when we are advised as to how it must be, we are even more disposed to place all our hope in God and in God alone, for the grace which is obviously necessary to hold fast to a life in imitation of Christ.
Once we have taken stock of what must be, accepted the challenge and turned it over to the grace of God for its ultimate fulfilment, then the rest is just “waiting in silence for the Lord to save”. We do the best we can with the lights we have, finding our rest and our serenity through it all in the certainty of God’s presence, his mercy, and his grace.
I pray for the grace of this abiding certainty in the lives of all of us.