the agony of defeat
"It was a disastrous defeat." —1 Samuel 4:10
I've been gazing at a statue of the Pieta. Mary has just suffered a disastrous loss. Before her very eyes, her Son Jesus was brutally tortured and crucified. She stood near His cross (Jn 19:25), pierced with a sword of sorrow (Lk 2:35) far more painful than any spear. Now she is holding the body of her Son, looking heavenward in a gaze of docility tinged with unspeakable suffering. Though Mary suffered a disastrous loss, she suffered in righteousness and faithfulness.
The Israelites under the priesthood of Eli and sons were steeped in sin and idolatry. By their hardness of heart, they "defeated God's plan in their regard" (Lk 7:30). They were defeated in battle, losing four thousand men (1 Sm 4:2). Then they brought God into the picture without bringing their lives under His lordship. They fought again, and were defeated disastrously, losing thirty thousand men (1 Sm 4:10). Israel's defeat was suffered in faithlessness, not righteousness.
If we live as faithful disciples of Jesus, storms (Mt 7:25), futile labor (Mk 6:48; Is 49:4), and trials (Jas 1:2; Sir 2:1), will come our way, in addition to our daily crosses (Lk 9:23). If we live in sin, we will suffer its consequences and defeats. Let's make certain our sufferings come in righteousness rather than sinfulness. Repent immediately! Live in faithfulness.
Prayer: Father, may we faithfully work in Your vineyard in holiness and let You turn our mourning into dancing in Your own perfect time (Ps 126:4-5; Ps 30:12).
Promise: "Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said: 'I do will it. Be cured.' " —Mk 1:41
Praise: St. Anthony lived over seventy years as a hermit in the desert, with God as his only companion.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 30, 2007
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