Like Fire Burning In My Heart...
Prophet Jeremiah comes to terms with difficulties surrounding his mission. He was publicly punished, became the object of laughter, mocked and abandoned to die. Overwhelmed with so much suffering and depression, he felt compelled to turn away from the mission God entrusted to him. Suffering and pain often deprives us joy and derails our God -giving missions if we lose faith. Jeremiah cried out to God and accused God of duping him. His lament serves well to underscore the pain that his mission entailed; frustration has led to this strong confrontation.
We can easily identify with his pain. The pain of been misunderstood, the pain of being unable to pay your bills, the pains of illness, abuse, divorce, violence, poverty, hunger, or loss of a loved one. Often people tell us it is God’s will. How do we ascertain God’s will in the face of tragedy? Jeremiah’s lament points up the difficulty in accepting God’s will without reservation. However, Jeremiah did not abandon the mission.
Jesus did not allow voices from any quarter to draw him from his appointed destiny. Peter’s attempt to discourage Him was met with a harsh rebuke. Peter, who previously professed Jesus as Messiah and God would be asked to get behind because his thoughts are not of God. Jesus will suffer at the hands of all-important people in Israel. Both the temporal and the spiritual authorities will help to put him to death. After his death, he will rise again. “To follow Christ is to deny oneself and take up one’s cross. We find and save our life if we lose it for His sake. For when we gain the whole world and lose ourselves, we have lost everything.” This is very difficult to accept and seems impossible to obtain.
St. Paul would expand this teaching: “I beg you… to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God.” This is the heart of discipleship, a transformed life that Christ is proposing. Jeremiah realized this and cried out: “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me.”
What then are we to do? St. Paul tells us: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge… what is good.” Offer yourself to the Lord, completely and without reservation. “It is only by freeing himself through suffering, “said Pope Benedict XVI, “that man finds himself, that he finds his truth, his joy, his happiness.” Jeremiah tried to rid himself of it, but he could not: “It becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.” God’s way is the only way to our fulfillment.
Grace and Peace to You,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike