Excerpt 17
Source of All Consolation

CONSOLATION suggests the idea of suffering and sorrow. "The life of man is filled with many miseries" (Job 4:1), and so there will always be such as stand in need of consolation. Unfortunately men frequently seek their consolation where it cannot be found, in things which only aggravate their trouble. The source of all true consolation is the infinite love of God, and that love burns in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From this source men must draw consolation, joy, and peace.

Wrong Sources of Consolation

There are many who attribute their troubles to poverty. They do not have, and because of conditions cannot acquire, the means to secure the ambitions of their lives. They cannot buy what they desire in food, clothing, furniture; they cannot take care of themselves in sickness as people of means can do; they cannot give their children the education which they see others enjoying. They feel embittered and in their bitterness throw themselves into a mad chase for money, paying little attention to the means which they use to acquire it. Others there are, who would drown their sorrow in the maelstrom of pleasure. Alas, it is usually sinful pleasure. Here is one who in his trouble takes to drink and ruins himself, body and soul; another stoops still lower and seeks his comfort in the pleasures of the flesh, forgetting what the Apostle says, that "they who sow in the flesh, from the flesh also will reap corruption" (Gal. 6:8). Again, there are such as seek their consolation in escape from the scene of their trouble, in a change of job, residence, companionship. All these may succeed in forgetting their original sorrow, at least for some time, but in the end they must agree with Solomon when he writes, "I said in my heart: I will go and abound with delights and enjoy good things.  . . . And whatever my eyes desired I refused them not; and I withheld not my heart from enjoying every pleasure, and delighting itself in the things which I had prepared.  . . . And I saw in all things vanity and vexation of mind" (Eccles. 2:1 ff.). Money, honor, pleasure, and worldly success leave the soul empty, disillusioned, and disgusted. All these things cannot bring true and lasting consolation, because they cannot satisfy the heart that is made for God and restless until it rests in Him.

Mission of Jesus

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. His mission is a mission of peace to men of good will, and therefore also a mission of consolation. The Heart of Jesus Itself is filled with the peace of the Godhead and is therefore the source of all true consolation.

It was on a Sabbath, in the synagogue of Nazareth. Jesus attended the customary religious service and the people of the town expected Him to address them. Jesus rose and the book of Isaias was handed Him. He opened the volume and read out this passage, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent Me to proclaim to captives release and sight to the blind; to set at liberty the oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of recompense" (Lk. 4: 17 ff.). Jesus sat down again and the eyes of all present were riveted upon Him. What would He say now? Jesus told them that these words of the prophet had found their fulfillment in Him.

True, the mission of Jesus was not in the first place one of relieving bodily distress; the words of the prophecy must be understood principally in a spiritual sense. But as all bodily suffering ultimately has its source in sin, so the healing of sin will also alleviate the suffering. Spiritual gifts, heavenly hopes and aspirations, therefore, will bring true relief, and Jesus offers them in His teaching and His example.

True Consolation

What better and more gladdening news could be given to the poor? Though they lack material wealth, they are rich in Christ, and there is no limit to the treasures which they can lay up for themselves in Heaven. What greater consolation than to know that we can obtain forgiveness of all our sins, throw off the fetters of Satan, and regain the liberty of the children of God? And no matter what may be the sufferings that afflict us, we can learn to bear them patiently and lovingly, when we remember that, "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us"
(Rom. 8:18).

To the consolation of His words Jesus has added the consolation of His example. He has experienced all the grief and sorrow that could fall to the lot of man and suffered what no other man could endure. Labors, privations, disappointments, humiliations were His inseparable companions, and the cruel sufferings of the Passion stood before His mind all the days of His life. What a load of sorrow did He carry in His Sacred Heart until the dark night of His passion broke upon Him, beginning with His agony in the Garden. Jesus knows what suffering means and therefore His invitation to all that labor and are burdened to come to Him is full of understanding and sympathy.

Saints in Suffering

The wonderful effects of Jesus' consolation are visible in the lives of the Saints. The more they love Him, the more they love to suffer with Him. St. Paul writes, "I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy in all my troubles" (2 Cor. 7:4). St. Elizabeth, driven from her home with her three children during a cold winter night, goes to the nearby Franciscan monastery and has the monks sing the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the sorrow God had sent her. St. Magdalen of Pazzi prays, "O Lord, let me not die, but suffer." St. Theresa has no other desire but to die or to suffer. Such is the power and sweetness of the consolation that flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus that sorrows can be changed into delight. Then, indeed, the yoke of Jesus is sweet and His burden light.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus has not changed and It is in our midst in the blessed Eucharist. If men would know the gift of God and seek relief from all their woes in this source of all consolation, the face of the earth would be changed, and happy faces would meet us everywhere.



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