A sermon of St Bernard
|I am with him in tribulation|
‘I am with him in tribulation,’ says God; and should I meanwhile seek anything other than tribulation? It is good for me to cling to the Lord, and not only to cling, but to put my hope in the Lord my God, since he says: ‘I will rescue him and glorify him.’
‘I am with him in tribulation,’ he says, ‘my delight is to be with the sons of men.’ Immanuel, God with us. He came down to be near to those who are troubled in heart, to be with us in our tribulation. There will be a time when we shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and thus we shall be for ever with the Lord. But we must take care to have him with us in the meantime, so that he who is to give us our homeland may be our companion on our way, or rather that he who will then be our homeland may now be our way.
|Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs|
Lord, it is good for me to suffer, so long as you are with me, better than to reign without you, to feast without you, to boast without you. Lord, it is better for me to embrace you in tribulation, to have you with me in the furnace, than to be without you, even in heaven. What is there for me in heaven, and what have I desired save you on the earth? Gold is tried in the furnace, and just men in the test of tribulation. Lord, there are you, there with them: there you stand in the midst of those who are gathered in your name, as you stood once with the three young men.
Why are we afraid, why do we delay, why do we flee from this furnace? The fire rages, but the Lord is with us in tribulation. If God is with us, who can be against us? Furthermore, if he rescues us, who can snatch us out of his hand? Who can take us from his grasp? Finally, if he glorifies us, who can make us inglorious? If he glorifies us, who can humiliate us?
‘I will satisfy him with length of days.’ It is as if he were saying: I know what he desires, what he thirsts for, what pleases him. He takes no delight in gold or silver, in pleasure, the acquisition of knowledge, or any worldly dignity. He counts all these things as loss, he spurns them and values them as dirt. He has entirely emptied himself, and does not let himself be taken up with things which he knows cannot satisfy him. He knows in whose image he is made, of whose greatness he is capable, and he will not snatch at a small thing which would mean missing the greatest.
Therefore ‘I will satisfy him with length of days,’ for he can be refreshed only by the true light, and can be filled only by the eternal light. This length has no end, this brightness knows no setting, this is a satisfaction that will never grow wearisome.