HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARYTIME–8/31/14–CYCLE“A” SMG
Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
We like Happy. We like happy things. We like happy songs…What’s that song from Despicable Me 2? I think it’s called “Happy” by Pharell Williams. We like happy books, happy movies, and happy endings. There’s a reason why so much of our advertising concentrates on things making us happy, because if we think that something will make us happy, then maybe we will give it a try and buy it. In our commercials, even things that we don’t necessarily connect with happiness, are made to look so good that they will restore us to happiness. We must use this pain killer because it will restore us to beautiful days and happiness. We must where this brand of socks, because they will make our feet happy. We must paint our house with this kind of paint, because a fresh coat of paint will make everything happy. It’s wild. It’s crazy.
In our hyper-happy world today comes Jesus Christ, with His message about the Cross. And just like St. Peter in today’s Gospel, we don’t want to hear it. This Gospel text follows immediately after last week’s glorious one where St. Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Most High! Hard to believe that right after being set-aside as the first Pope, St. Peter is being reprimanded for his lack of Faith and his rejection of the Cross. I think we can all say that we like last week’s Gospel a lot better. And yet, this message of the Cross that Jesus delivers today, while not very popular, is absolutely essential to the whole story. We can’t get to eternal happiness, we can’t get all of the good that God has in store for us, we can’t get to where Jesus wants to take us, IF we are unwilling to pick up our Cross and follow Him. It is as simple as that. The truth is, that we need crosses. Nobody likes crosses. But they do keep us connected to Jesus Christ. Crosses come in all shapes and sizes. There are big crosses and there are little crosses. But everybody gets crosses. This is NOT the part of Christianity that we like to talk about! You might say, can’t we talk some more about Heaven, or about God’s mercy, or about peace? We can’t talk about any of those things if we don’t first talk about the Cross. It is that much a part of the story!
Jesus’ Cross was not pretty. It was not happy. There were nails, and splinters, and blood, and a crown of thorns. And most of the time our crosses are not pretty or happy either. Whether yours is the Cross of sickness, or the Cross of Death, or the Cross of Old Age, or the cross of your job, or your marriage, or your kids, or maybe yours is the Cross of financial trials, or losing your home, or unemployment. It doesn’t matter what your Cross is, we are to pick up our Cross and follow Jesus, fully trusting that there will always be resurrection! Not just in the world to come, but with any cross, there will be resurrection for those who believe and persevere, in this world now. The Cross is our connector to Christ. We can’t be perfect like He is. We are not the Messiah. We are not God from God, light from light, true God from true God. We are sinners. So how do we connect to an all-perfect God? We, like Him, carry our crosses and persevere every day in the Christian life, no matter what our Cross is.
Last Saturday, not yesterday, but a week ago, we had the Feast Day of St. Rose of Lima. And St. Rose of Lima was born in 1586 in Peru. She lived a life of selflessness and devotion from an early age. She became a Dominican at the age of 20. And she lived a life of extreme penance and service to the poor, dying in 1617. St. Rose wrote that we should seek to suffer as much as we possibly can in this life, because nothing will bring us closer to Jesus than suffering, than the Cross. It is hard for us today to understand “seeking suffering”. For most of us, the normal crosses of daily life are enough to handle. But logically, isn’t St. Rose exactly right? If we embraced more of our crosses, wouldn’t that lead us to a greater dependency and reliance on God? Ultimately, crosses are not bad. They are not bad if they lead us to salvation.
We do like happiness. There’s not a one of us here today who doesn’t want to be happy. If we want to be happy forever, then there’s only one way to go. May we pick up our Cross or crosses, and follow Jesus.
May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!