There cannot be two moves more different than today’s first reading in today’s gospel. Poor Jeremiah. Things are not going so well for him. This is not simply in a small way, but in fact in a way that is so significant Jeremiah even regrets his birth. As the prophet, he has the task of speaking words that no one wishes to hear. He is not a prophet that is popular, and he is not a prophet who appeases. Yet in the gospel, we encounter someone who is so excited about the kingdom of God, they’re willing to give up everything for it.
How is it that both individuals who have given everything for the sake of God’s kingdom in God’s message, for the sake of God himself, to react so differently? The answer is obvious: it is easy to be joyful when the outcomes of following God are good. And, it is natural to feel sad, even tremendously depressed, and following God’s will brings nothing but difficulty.
That is why great and holy saints, like St. Teresa of Avila, or St. John of the Cross, caution us about becoming too attached to the consolation I can be hours because of the faith. This is so, because they were both well aware that there can be times in our life, even long times in our life, where we do not experience the consolation of our faith. While faith certainly can bring joy, committing ourselves completely to God can also sometimes bring sadness, and heart ache.
Think of those Christians in Mosul who are being forced to flee, leaving everything behind. Think of the Christians in Syria, who have also experienced such difficulty and hardship. It is hard to imagine that these individuals could be joyful in the face of such great affliction. Perhaps they are, but it would be understandable if they are not.
So today is important for us to commit ourselves to this relationship with God, and asked God for the strength not to measure the quality of our relationship with God simply by the consolations it might give to us. Or, perhaps to remember that the biggest consolation of our faith is a relationship with God that lasts forever.