"In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." - Psalm 18:6
Consolation is a beautiful word. It means "to be" (con-) "with the lonely one" (solus). To offer consolation is one of the most important ways to care, to love. In silence, God is with Jesus, lonely and forsaken on the cross. The Risen Jesus offers consolation to followers who grieve his death.
Life is so full of pain, sadness, and loneliness that we often wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we see. We can and must offer consolation. We can and must console the young adult who is confused and depressed, the mother who lost her child, the person with AIDS, the family devastated by tsunamis, earthquakes or lost jobs, the soldier who is wounded, the teenager who contemplates suicide, the old man who wonders why he should stay alive.
To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, “You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am here.” It is to trust that God is present and will give hope somehow, despite uncertainties. That is consolation. We all need to give it as well as to receive it. That is God’s great gift in Jesus, who is God-with-us-in-suffering. That is our calling, especially as we enter Holy Week.
Lord, who do you call me to console today?
Inspired by Henri Nouwen