Sexagesima~Fortitude

Job by Seghers

“I will glory in nothing but in my infirmities.” ~ II. Cor. xii. 5.

When the hand of God is laid upon us, my brethren, the first thing we are likely to do is to complain and to wonder why we are so much afflicted. We are in poverty, and we look with jealous eye on the rich and forget the saying of our Lord, “How hardly shall the rich man enter the kingdom of heaven.” God smites us with disease, and instead of bearing it with patience we murmur, and are very impatient of the restraint which it brings upon us, when, indeed, this very sickness may be God’s own chosen means of helping us save our souls. That  “the Lord doth not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men” we know full well. That He brings sorrow upon us and suffering we know, and that it is for our good we know also. He is no angry God sitting in judgment to punish us all the time. Sickness, loss of money, friends, and of all that is near and dear to us, is no sign at all that God dislikes us or is in any way angry with us. “For whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”

St. Paul appreciated this so much that he could say, “I glory in my infirmities”; and then he went on to describe his chastisements from the day he had been a Christian up to the time of his writing. And in spite of all his hardships, of all the base ingratitude with which he had been treated, in spite of perpetual bodily pain, in spite of temptations of Satan, he would glory in his infirmity. He knew that out of the proper submission of spirit to all this a man’s soul is elevated to God, merit is gained and greater glory to God.

And we, alas! how do we act today in similar circumstances? Which one of us has the strong, burning faith to rejoice when God tries him? The saints have praised God for all the afflictions He has put on them. We are called to be saints, and what have we done? We have complained. We have become angry. We have doubted the goodness of God. We have not said with Job the Patriarch, “Shall I receive good at the hands of the Lord, and not receive evil also?” Our duty in this regard is plain, and so plain that St. Paul says, “If you do well and suffer for it, this is acceptable with God.” For this renders us like to Him who suffered for us, the just for the unjust. St. Francis of Assisi says that perfect joy consisted in being despised and ill-treated by the men of the world.

Now, this treatment of the world which we receive, how do we bear it as a rule? Most men resent it. Most men will stand no ill-treatment from their fellow-men. They talk big about their dignity. Yet the Psalmist says : “What is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou so regardest him?” Men speak of their being insulted and talk of apologies, and they insult God and have not made the apology of a good confession. Men abuse us and slander us, and we seek revenge. Are we right? No; we are wrong. “Those who take the sword shall perish by the sword,” said our Lord to St. Peter. Let us say this : If men afflict me, or insult me, I will, after the example of my Divine Master, be silent. I will count it all joy to suffer for Him and for His name. But as for myself, I am a worm and no man, and if I must glory, let it be in my infirmities.

 

Five-minute Sermons for Low Masses on All Sundays of the Year
By the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

Leave a reply