In the first reading we are asked to sympathize with Jeremiah, an old man left to roam about the ruins of Jerusalem after the able-bodied had all been led off in chains. Out in the fields he sees the unburied dead. In the city he sees old people picking through the ruins for something edible.
In daily news reports we are confronted with people in similar desperate conditions. It makes us wonder how we would bear up amid such misery. We hear about suicides among young soldiers taken from happy homes, then, dropped into places like Afghanistan where they come on fields of beheaded bodies.
How well could we put up with disaster upon disaster? Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola. As a heavily wounded battle casualty, he crawled into a cellar where for months he struggled at putting illusions aside, opening himself to God.
Like Jeremiah centuries before, Ignatius found endurance from God. Jeremiah wrote this:
“The thought of my homeless poverty is wormwood and gall; and remembering it over and over leaves my soul downcast within me. But I will call this to mind, as my reason for hope: The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.
“My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore I will hope in him.”