Dear Parishioners and Visitors: please enjoy this guest column by John F. Craghan. —Msgr. Richard
To console is to perceive with involvement. When we observe the frustration of others, we often do not observe that our task is to offer a vision with dedication. We see the anguish of others, but we do not see that our mission is to provide both perspective and commitment. We feel the pain of others, but we do not feel that our purpose is to impart both perception and involvement. To console is to perceive with involvement.
We see this in today’s first Reading from the Book of Daniel. The Jewish people were suffering. They were called upon to live up to their faith, even to the point of death, which led to a time of questioning and doubting. The author of Daniel assured them that evil would not get the upper hand, that faith would triumph. He told them they would reign as kings and queens. The God of the covenant was mysteriously present, and the author’s writing involved him in that presence. To console is to perceive with involvement.
In the Responsorial Psalm, the author underscores the Lord’s reign and, therefore, his regal involvement in the lives of his covenant people. This king is not an absentee overlord since he perceives the needs of his people and responds accordingly. In effect, he proceeds to console by becoming involved. As king, the Lord will not allow his people to suffer indefinitely. He demonstrates his sovereignty through the exercise of justice. Here too to console is to perceive with involvement.
The Gospel reveals Jesus at a particular point in his ministry when he was especially discouraged. He seriously wondered whether or not he would achieve his mission. In a moment of intense prayer the Father communicated with Jesus in a special way. The Father assured his Son that he would support him despite the enormous struggle of the cross. The transfiguration was, therefore, the Father’s personal involvement in his Son’s mission. To console is to perceive with involvement.
Those who console friends over the loss of job uncover God’s presence by offering their help. Those who counsel the discouraged discover God’s presence by their own generosity. Those who show concern for those estranged from family find God’s presence by becoming family to them. Such people recognize that their mission is to provoke God’s presence by personal involvement. For them, to console is to perceive with involvement.
The Eucharist deals with the tragedy of death only to proclaim the presence of God in the resurrection experience. It urges the community to perceive that presence in the lives of others and to confirm that perception by personal involvement. To eat and drink with Jesus means to perceive God’s plan and communicate it by concern. In the Eucharist too, to console is to perceive with involvement.
—John F. Craghan
John F. Craghan is professor emeritus of religious studies at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and the author of Trust (Little Rock Scripture Study); The Gospels of the Weekday Lectionary; And the Life of the World to Come; Psalms for All Seasons; and I Was Ill and You Cared for Me (Liturgical Press).