O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
For I hear many whispering: “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. “Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him.” But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten. O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I like this reading as an option for the Feast of St. Ignatius, because it calls to mind how our souls wrestle with discernment of spirits as a result of being touched by God’s love and called to respond to the Lord. For St. Ignatius, there is a cosmic battle going on between good and evil spirits which affects each and every one of us. The victory has been won by Christ, but the “clean-up campaign” is going on throughout human history, and each day we need to sign up for the side of Christ, the side of light and love.
Jeremiah is a young prophet who is reluctant to respond at first, but in the end he cannot not respond to God’s call. He said “it is like a fire is burning in my heart… I grow weary holding back, I cannot.” All of us who take seriously prayer and discerning God’s will can identify with Jeremiah. Certainly, St. Ignatius had a similar experience as he was convalescing at his family castle after being injured at the battle of Pamplona, and later in the cave at Manresa. St. Ignatius finally surrendered his sword in front of the statue of the Black Virgin Mary of Montserrat, symbolically showing the surrender of his will to the Lord before he went into the cave at Manresa.
As we celebrate this feast today, let us commit ourselves to examen our lives in prayer and acknowledge where God might be calling us to let go of something which prevents us from embracing God’s unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness. Perhaps it is a grudge or a resentment because of past hurt. Perhaps it is the disappointment or even anger as a result of an unrealized dream or desire? Might the fire of God’s love in our hearts lead us to surrender at least some of our “swords” today and in the days ahead?
—Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, is the Provincial for the Midwest Jesuits.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
—Suscipe prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola