Like Fire Burning in My Heart
For a week now, most of us have been praying desperately and with grit, almost unendingly, for safety for ourselves and for those we love. I wonder if there is anyone in San Antonio that has not been affected by the hurricane and subsequent floods. We see the images of suffering, and we hurt for others. In some ways, our lives are not unlike those of the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah doesn’t like his suffering any more than any of us like seeing the suffering of so many around us. Even so, he cannot stop speaking of God—“it is like a fire burning in his heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”
So what is it about God that is searing our hearts? What is the message that God speaks to us in the midst of our anxiousness, our sorrow, our compassion-fatigue?
Jesus’ words in the Gospel for this weekend are particularly meaningful for us today. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” I have cried often these days. I cry not just for the losses of so many, but also at the sight of those who are willing to deny themselves and take up the cross of compassion to help in whatever way they can, to support in prayer and in physical assistance, to work endlessly to “rescue” in body and in spirit those who are in most need of our mercy.
And I have prayed the prayer of St. Francis over and over again. Here it is:
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life