Many of us may identify with Jesus’ weeping in Luke 19:41-44 as he laments over Jerusalem and its rejection of Him and His ways. Perhaps we too weep when we consider the various ways the world and the people in our lives reject His saving message for today. Perhaps public figures come to mind, such as those who have influence yet live lives and lead others on paths contrary to the Gospel. Or perhaps our own family comes to mind, such as family members who won’t go to Church or are living lifestyles we feel are contrary to their best interests.
Our pain is real and justified. We feel the pain because we believe in Christ’s message of peace, love, and reconciliation. We feel pain because we long for justice. We feel pain because we care. We feel pain because we long for heaven and want our loved ones and the world to join us.
Can we find consolation as we identify with Jesus? It’s almost as if we can look at the Crucifix and hear Him say, “it’s ok … many did not listen to me either … but look at how the Church was founded and grew over the centuries through so many of my followers who did accept my message.”
We should never underestimate the impact we can have through our words and actions, even when it feels we have had none. Someone may not have a change of heart the minute we talk to them or attempt to influence their perspective on the Gospel. However that does not mean God did not use that encounter to plant a seed of faith that will one day grow.
Do we have the faith to follow Jesus’ example by continuing to preach the Gospel in a loving way, even when others don’t agree or reject us for it (Matthew 10:14)? Can we overcome the temptation to lose hope and keep moving forward, even when we face rejection or apathy?
Or do we get stuck? Do we get stuck in discouragement, anger, frustration, or despair? Do we find ourselves growing apathetic ourselves?
Or can we find the courage to trust that God is still at work? For many did not listen to Jesus, but look at how the Church was born and grew through Him over the centuries
Throughout much of his early life Saint Augustine was not yet ready to accept the teachings of the Catholic faith either. As Augustine details in his Confessions, he attempted to find God through numerous pleasures, lifestyles and religions, especially Manichaeism. His mother Saint Monica, in her love and concern for her son, was persistent in her attempts to lead him to the Church. One day, as Augustine was deeply involved in Manichaeism, Saint Monica became so overwhelmed with fear and despair she approached the Bishop Saint Ambrose and pleaded for him to speak to her son (Confessions III, xii, 21). The Bishop, rather than doing as she asked, advised Saint Monica that her son was not yet ready, yet predicted a time would come when he would be. His rationale was that Saint Augustine appeared to be following a path of discovery not unlike his own. Monica would later recall that she took this response as a consolation sent from heaven.
Over the course of his Confessions, Augustine recalls the many ways his mother influenced his conversion, even when he was not yet ready to respond.
Can we learn to trust, as Saint Monica learned, that the rejection and apathy we sometimes experience as we preach the Gospel through our words and actions in today’s world doesn’t mean we are without hope? Can we trust that God is indeed at work among us?
“What you procure for yourself you must also obtain for your neighbor, so that he may also love God with a perfect love. You do not love your neighbor as yourself unless you try to lead him to the same good towards which you are striving. It is a question of a good which does not grow smaller because everybody is searching for it with you.”