Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 16, 2018)

Today’s readings remind us that to follow the teachings of Jesus involves suffering. St. Francis de Sales has a very interesting understanding of suffering:

I don’t think we should ask for suffering, as did our Lord, for we aren’t able to handle it as He did. It is quite enough if we endure it patiently.

However, do not limit your patience to great deeds of courage. The truly patient and true servant of God bears up equally under the little as well as the great events in life. To be despised, criticized and accused by our friends and relatives is the test of virtue. The sting of a bee is much more painful than that of a fly. So likewise the wrongs and attacks we suffer from those we love are far harder to bear than those we suffer from others. Yet it often happens that two good and well-intentioned persons, because of conflicting ideas, stir up great persecutions and attacks on one another.

If an evil happens to you choose a remedy agreeable to God. If you are falsely accused of something, you have a duty to respond with the truth. If the accusation continues after you have given a legitimate explanation, don’t try to make them accept your explanation. Gently stir up your courage. Arm yourself with the patience we ought to have toward ourselves. Often raise your heart to God so you may be on guard against a surprise attack. Yet we need to always watch out for our bad-tempered self that is good at thinking up things. But don’t be upset if this touchy self causes you to totter and stumble. Within us, the Spirit of Jesus is transforming us so that we seek in all things the honor and glory of God.

While we work to bring forth Christ in us, we must let go of our inordinate self-sufficiency that causes us to suffer. Yet we will experience peace if we remain resigned to God’s Will, remembering that God desires most our fidelity.

(Adapted from St. F. de Sales, Introd. to a Devout Life, Ryan, ed.; Letters of Spiritual Direction, Power & Wright, eds)