I like this reading as an option for the Feast of St. Ignatius, because it calls to mind how our souls wrestle with discernment of spirits as a result of being touched by God’s love and called to respond to the Lord. For St. Ignatius, there is a cosmic battle going on between good and evil spirits which affects each and every one of us. The victory has been won by Christ, but the “clean-up campaign” is going on throughout human history, and each day we need to sign up for the side of Christ, the side of light and love.

Jeremiah is a young prophet who is reluctant to respond at first, but in the end he cannot not respond to God’s call. He said “it is like a fire is burning in my heart… I grow weary holding back, I cannot.” All of us who take seriously prayer and discerning God’s will can identify with Jeremiah. Certainly, St. Ignatius had a similar experience as he was convalescing at his family castle after being injured at the battle of Pamplona, and later in the cave at Manresa. St. Ignatius finally surrendered his sword in front of the statue of the Black Virgin Mary of Montserrat, symbolically showing the surrender of his will to the Lord before he went into the cave at Manresa.

As we celebrate this feast today, let us commit ourselves to examen our lives in prayer and acknowledge where God might be calling us to let go of something which prevents us from embracing God’s unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness. Perhaps it is a grudge or a resentment because of past hurt. Perhaps it is the disappointment or even anger as a result of an unrealized dream or desire? Might the fire of God’s love in our hearts lead us to surrender at least some of our “swords” today and in the days ahead?

—Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, is the Provincial for the Midwest Jesuits.