Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Jeremiah 15:10.16-21; Matthew 13:44-46)

St. Teresa of Avila, the mystic-reformer of the sixteenth century, once complained to God of the mistreatment she was experiencing. God responded, “This is how I treat my friends, Teresa.” The saint replied, “Well, then, no wonder you have so few!” Teresa echoes Jeremiah’s sentiments in the first reading today.

Jeremiah has faithfully and selflessly served the Lord. He has performed bizarre activities like extracting from the earth a rotten loincloth to impress God’s message on a hard-headed Judah. Yet the only recognition he receives is condemnation. Jeremiah’s protest sounds as if God were compensating his efforts with more suffering. The prophet laments, “You have become for me a treacherous brook whose waters do not abide!”

Although our service to the Lord will generally bring a sense of satisfaction, there is no guarantee. In fact, at times it will seem that God is putting us on trial despite our best efforts. We should not hesitate to take our complaints to the Lord; however, we must avoid rebellion. After all, each of us is a sinner before God. Rather than grumble at length, it is wise to remember prophets like Jeremiah and Theresa and return our shoulder to the load. We are not likely to suffer very much longer.