Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies

Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
September 16th, 2012
Year B

Blessed Mother Teresa's first clinic was a former Hindu pilgrimage residence in Calcutta that she turned it into a hospital for the poor and dying. The local Hindus leaders, however, were not too happy about it. They thought it was being used as a place of Catholic proselytism suspecting that the sisters engaged in secret baptisms of Hindus and Muslims inside its facilities. Gangs of hostile locals harassed the sisters as they roamed Calcutta's slums, scooping up destitute people lying in the gutters. Finally, a police commissioner arrived to close down the clinic. Mother Teresa invited him in. When he entered, he saw the floor full of sick and dying poor people. He watched as the sisters knelt down beside these maimed, helpless, and abandoned people, not preaching at them, but bathing their wounds, cleaning them, and feeding them. They were indeed communicating their faith, not by force, but by the sheer power of self-less love. The stunned commissioner walked out the front door and dispersed the angry crowd, telling them that he would stop the sisters only when the neighbors persuaded their wives and sisters to take over the work the nuns had started. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was an eloquent example of someone who expressed her faith through how she lived and what she did, not just by what she said.

Our second reading from St. James rightly exhorts us to live in a manner that testifies to the faith that we profess. Very often we forget that our faith is more than just coming to Mass on Sunday, it is more than the prayers we utter, it is more than what is on our lips. The faith we profess must also be reflected in the lives we lead. It must resonate deeply within our hearts. We have the tendency, however, to place Jesus in a box where we take Him out only on Sundays or only in times of crisis – when it is convenient for us. This is a great danger. Another danger is the exact opposite of this where we do great things for others, where we engage in acts of charity and service but we do so only for ourselves, we do so in such a way that is divorced from our faith, apart from Christ who shows us the meaning of charity by His self-donation on the Cross.

As Catholics, we are called to bring our faith and works together. We are asked the same question that is posed to the disciples in today’s Gospel: “Who do you say that I am?” Here we reach the heart of St. Mark’s Gospel. This is a question not meant for just the disciples but for every reader. All that he has recounted about Jesus leads up to this question. So too, our lives, all that we have been taught, all that the Church has proclaimed, leads us up to this question: “who do you say that I am?” And we may find ourselves in a similar position as the disciples. We may have heard conflicting opinions about who Christ is and what the Church is meant to be and how we are live as Christians in today’s world. We may find ourselves in a further predicament because perhaps our lives do not reflect the faith we profess. With this in mind, how is it possible to answer this question? This is the challenge that Jesus presents to us today. Blessed Pope John Paul II offers some profound advise on we can answer this question. Commenting on this Gospel, he noted:
“In our case also, in order to make a more conscious profession of faith in Jesus Christ, we must, like Peter, listen attentively and carefully. We must follow in the school of the first disciples, who had become His witnesses and our teachers. At the same time we must accept the experience and testimony of no less than twenty centuries of history marked by the Master’s question and enriched by the immense chorus of responses of the faithful of all times and places.”
This is what the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta teaches us. I had the privilege of witnessing the beauty of the work the Missionaries of Charity perform. As a deacon, I would often assist at their early morning Masses. They begin their day with an hour of quiet meditation and Mass at 6:30am. They prayed collectively that they may be the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Jesus for the poor. And they do their work because they are able to see Jesus in the poor. They offer their lives so that others may live. In so doing they bring Jesus to life for those whom they serve and for us who have the privilege of serving with them. That is what we are all called to do: bring Jesus to life for others and it begins by bringing the faith we profess and the lives that we lead into harmony. The lives that we lead indeed reflect the answer we give to the question: “who do you say that I am?” What is your answer? While Peter answers on behalf of the Apostles and so too for all Christians, we still have to answer this question for ourselves. We have to make our own confession of faith – that which we know in our minds and profess with our mouths must also penetrate our hearts and be made manifest by how we live.
May the reception of Holy Communion this day intensify our love for God. May His grace strengthen our resolve to bring our faith and our lives into harmony and so live for Him in all that we say and do.




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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