Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 12th, 2015
Year B

Last week I had the opportunity to see Billy Joel in concert at Madison Square Garden. I have to say of all the concerts I have been to this one ranked among the best I have ever seen. He is truly the entertainer. It made me think though, what is it that draws a crowd of 25,000 to one place to see one man. I think that it is because performers like Billy Joel place no demands on us. If anything, we demand from him – and others – that he entertain, show us a good time and make sure that we are happy. He does not challenge us, he does not threaten our way of life, but rather he provides a service. I often think that this is why people struggle with the Catholic faith so much. We live in a world today where we want to figure it out faith on our own because this is less challenging. We want to make it up as we go because we will demand less of ourselves. This makes it easy to box up faith into the “private realm that is no body’s business but my own.”

This is what makes it easy for so many to reject Church teaching and the authority of the Church. But we need to understanding something about the authority that Jesus gives His Apostles in the Gospel today – authority passed on to the successors of the Apostles, the Pope and Bishops of the Church. First, notice that St. Mark tells us that He “summoned the Twelve.” He calls together the Apostles, not the other followers. Second, He calls them collectively. They are not to go it alone. They are not to be “lone rangers” but are to share in the work of the Master – to preach, pray together, worship together, help each other and correct each other. Third, they are given a specific task – advance the kingdom. Emphasis is placed on the duty of expelling unclean spirits, which sums their whole mission – they are given a share in Christ’s divine authority so as to advance the Kingdom of God and conquer the assaults of the devil.

Yet, here is what I find to be the most interesting of the entire passage: with this new divine authority, what does St. Mark tell us they preached? Repentance. The actual Greek word used is ‘metanoia’ – conversion. Be converted. Be changed by the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With this authority, they preach a simple message: change, conversion, repentance. I’m convinced that this is precisely why we do not like authority – especially the authority of the Church – because God’s divine authority calls us to change. It is demanding and upsets our way of life. We would rather be comfortable than converted. But if we think more deeply about the mission of the Church, if we examine the core of her faith and the discipline of the sacraments, we will notice that her entire mission is to bring us conversion, to change us from within – transform us in heart, mind and soul to be in greater conformity with Christ, to be one with Him here and now so as to be one with Him in eternity and become the men and women He has created us to be. As such, there is need for a leader, for one to show us the way to the Father’s heart. One to watch over us from above who sees with God’s heart and knows how to raise us to the heights of heaven. Thus, as Pope Francis has reminded us, there is need, in every age of the Church, a good shepherd, a pastor after the Heart of Jesus.

In this, repentance is key. It requires humility. It requires that we admit that we do not know the way ourselves. I recently saw on facebook a picture of young people praying in church. The caption read: “I do not go to church because I am a strong Christian. I go to church because I am weak and need a savior.” When we embrace a spirit and attitude of repentance we recognize our dependency on God for His mercy, we come more fully into contact with His grace, particularly in the Sacrament of Penance. In this, we encounter Him and we come to know Him personally. Struck by that personal encounter, we then submit more easily to His divine authority and recognize Him in the teachings of the Church and in those who minister as the Successors of the Apostles – His bishops and priests. Repentance is an external and inward sign of love for the savior. Repentance unites us and the grace of forgiveness strengthens our witness to the power of the mercy of God. Humbly, therefore, we heed the message of the Apostles in the Gospel, we acknowledge our sins, we ask for mercy, we repent, we make a firm resolve to be transformed by His grace. By virtue of true repentance, may this draw us closer to Christ and be the necessary grace we need to help others be drawn to Him and converted.


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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