Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
June 23rd, 2013
Year C

Atheists down through the centuries have all claimed that the cross of Jesus Christ is the weak point of the Christian religion. They argue that since God has not eliminated human suffering then He is either weak or does not exist at all. This is a claim on two levels:

First – these same critics do not consider all the suffering that God does prevent. They cannot explain why there is so much good in the world. For if God were weak or did not exist the world would be in utter chaos. They are unable to see that alongside suffering, sin, and evil is beauty, compassion, goodness, laughter and smiles. True enough, evil exists but we recognize it only because we see that goodness outweighs the evil.

Second – why would God not eliminate human suffering? By His own passion, death and resurrection Jesus gives meaning to human suffering. We become more God-like by entering into our sufferings, by offering the pains of life to Him and thus become co-workers with Him in His work of redemption. There is merit to human suffering whose rewards are eternal.

Another reason is because so much of our suffering – not all of it – is due to our choices, particularly those choices that are made out of selfishness. For God to totally eliminate suffering He would have to take away our freedom. Then we would not be free to accept Him or reject Him. The cross is not Christianity’s greatest weakness; it is our greatest strength. And it is joyful.

This is the message of the Gospel today. Jesus plainly describes to His disciples that the road to glory is not found in fame or popularity. It is found in suffering, in humility, it is found in giving of ourselves and not gaining for ourselves. This path, however, we must be free to choose. We have to want it. “If you wish to be my disciples…” Jesus invites us here to choose the road of suffering. For this is our victory, this is our joy. The historian Christopher Dawson puts it rather profoundly: “The Church wins not by majorities, but by martyrs, and the cross is her victory.”

Jesus says this to us over and over again: each day is a cross and each day is an invitation to unite ourselves more fully to Him by suffering with and for Him. In all circumstances, in everything we do and think, in everything we say, let us embrace those crosses that come to us, let us invite humility and give of ourselves fully to Him who gave us everything. This is indeed one of the greatest challenges of the Christian life. St. John Vianney exhorts us to have courage in this challenge. In one of his sermons he wrote:

“There is no doubt about it: a person who seeks comfort, who flies from anything that might spell suffering, who is over-anxious, who complains, who blames and who becomes impatient at the least little thing which does not go his way – a person like that is a Christian only in name; he is only a dishonor to his religion, for Jesus Christ has said so: Anyone who wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross everyday of his life, and follow me.”

We find the cross in all things of life; in our own sufferings and in those who need the aid and compassion of people who are willing to give of themselves in order to help carry it for others. The cross, therefore, is not a sign of weakness; it is not evidence that God does not exist, exactly the opposite. The cross is our greatest strength. It is the evidence for Him. And it means that we are to show that the cross is our victory. We are to show to the world that in and through the unpopularity of the cross the goodness of God may abound. May we be courageous enough, this day and everyday, to take up the cross, to enter into the humility and generosity of God so as to become more like Him.












Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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