Eugene concludes that loving people, despite rejection, is what is expected of God’s servants.

Each one according to the measure received must, after having exhausted his affections and efforts, say in all simplicity: We are useless servants; we did what we were supposed to do [Luke 17:10]. I had always thought this with regard to God and what one does in His service, but I needed further reflection to apply this feeling to people, or at least to include in it what one does for them beyond the strict duty of Christian charity.

He then thanks God for the gift he has been given of feeling compassion for people who are suffering, and of wanting to respond with generosity.

That is where I was mistaken. If I feel people’s pain more than others do, if my heart is touched at the sole thought of their misfortunes, when they come to mind, if I feel real distress, sometimes even deep pain upon simply hearing of a catastrophe that will bring desolation to a family unknown to me, as for example the death of a mother which leaves the children abandoned, or the death of a son, or a daughter whose early loss will break the heart of a mother, I could not deny that this is evidence of a rather rare kindheartedness. It is a pure gift from God.

Having vented, Eugene now calms down and recognizes that all that he does must be for love of God and people – not for rewards.

This exquisite feeling is a consequence of who I am, a condition of the existence that God gave me by making me what I am and the way I am. Why should I want anyone to take notice of them in me? That would be too natural a reward for a free gift of the Lord, because no matter how troublesome this uncommon ability, whenever I find another person who has it to this high degree, I congratulate myself on having it and I feel truly happy even during the painful moments it brings me. So, let me renounce any reward or any human recognition. To count on it would simply be preparing grief for myself. I will spare myself that sorrow by sacrificing it in advance.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 31 March 1839, EO XX

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Sometimes it seems to me that being human can be very complicated.

    I think of the times that I have promised myself and God – that I am not going to measure or be dissatisfied; that I will not look for affirmation or gratitude – yet at the end of the day I find myself wishing or hoping for some kind of recognition. “Why won’t people that I love recognize that love?” I ask myself. “Does my love for them exist only when I receive it back?” Gratefully this repeated behaviour does not stop me from loving over and over again. That seems to have become foundational – it comes from some place deep within me that I am quite powerless to control. And I thank God for that.

    Thankfully God hears my prayers and sees my tears and like an exasperated mother picks me up and holds me close. The image of the beloved disciple with his ear to the heart of Jesus comes to mind. It is not exasperation but rather love as Jesus draws us close. It may happen during a retreat, after prayer or later during the day as Jesus speaks through others or as Jesus draws close and touches me, as though to remind me he is close. A moment of quiet joy and relaxation against the heart of Jesus. “This exquisite feeling is a consequence of who I am, a condition of the existence that God gave me by making me what I am and the way I am.”

    I think of the lines from Matthew’s Gospel (26:41) when Jesus is in the Garden praying: Then Jesus returned to the disciples and found them sleeping. “Were you not able to keep watch with Me for one hour?” He asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not enter into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

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