Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


25th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
September 21st, 2014
Year A

Imagine a world where a religious person was considered an outlaw. Imagine a world where to speak about forgiveness, mercy and love was considered a crime. Imagine a world where if a person did not conform to the way of life, traditions, practices and beliefs of the world, he or she could be imprisoned, tortured, and even killed. Imagine this world and it is precisely the world in which many Christians gave their lives for the sake of Kingdom of God in order to further the peaceful message of Truth – Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior. Imagine this world.

It was in this context that St. Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians. He wrote to them from prison. In the reading of the Mass today, St. Paul earnestly debates the possibility of his martyrdom or whether it is God’s will that he continue his missionary labor. While his desire may be to “depart this life to be with Christ” his final expectation is that he would be delivered from his imprisonment in order that he may continue to preach the Gospel to the Philippians. In either case, Jesus Christ is central for Paul.

Imagine now, hearing these words of St. Paul in his letter read to you one Sunday morning as you and many others are gathered for worship. He writes from prison, he contemplates whether or not he will be killed and then, as he begins his instructions for the community at large, you hear this line: “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.” You know full well that to do so may result in your own ridicule, imprisonment, torture or even death. Imagine these words being spoken to you personally.

It is not so difficult to imagine, is it? The world of St. Paul is not unlike our own. Christians are still persecuted, tortured and killed in foreign lands for being simply Christian. Just think of the atrocities going on in Iraq or of the nuns that were killed in Burundi. It is still happening today. Christians are persecuted even in developed countries, like our own. For instance, one of our students related a very disturbing story at our faith sharing group just last week. She is involved in theater and a girl came in to audition who had a Jesus fish tattoo. Some of the others involved in this play lamented the fact that she had this tattoo – “this is a liberal, open environment and it is not for religious people.” First of all, without even knowing this girl, they made a judgment about her based on a tattoo. Second, they assumed that because she is Christian, she would automatically disagree with the liberal trends of society, theater, and the like.

It is not difficult to imagine the world of St. Paul because we are living it. While Christianity may not be outlawed it is certainly not respected and it is only a matter of time before a person who claims to Christian will be considered a menace to society, a criminal simply because the values, teachings, and beliefs of a religion that boasts of peace, mercy, love for one’s neighbor, and the respect of all human life is in direct opposition the ephemeral trends of society.

And it is in this world that we too hear the words of St. Paul: “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.” We must, therefore, ask ourselves, what does Christ mean to me? What does the Church mean to me? Is Christ the center of my life? Does He mean more to me than the ridicule I may receive? In response to that rude comment from people at the theater, the student who told the story, mentioned to them that she was going to the Newman Catholic Center. What courage that took! It shows, even in a simple comment, of the conviction in her heart that Christ is central. He means more than any sort of mockery that could possibly be thrown at her. This is the conviction that St. Paul urges that we acquire to live in a manner worthy of the gospel. That conviction is what gives us the necessary courage and motivation to make Christ central in our lives. For, as Fr. Gary points so rightly, that those mock and make fun, those who judge others because of a relationship with God only wish that they had the same.

Thus, St. Paul calls us to a greater conviction of the Gospel message and greater courage to draw closer to Jesus. In doing so, not only do we grow strong in our own faith but we then can inspire others to come to Him as well – whether they realize it or not. Let us pray for this courage, let us pray that we guard our hearts and stay on the path of Gospel that leads us to the Heart of Jesus and may we never forget that in this journey, Jesus walk with us giving us the generosity of His Spirit.


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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