Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
October 6th, 2013
Year C

A few years ago, a book of letters written by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta to her spiritual directors was published. These letters shocked the public and the media. Everyone thought that Mother Teresa was the happiest person in the world, that her faith was so strong that nothing bothered her. But this is the wrong impression of her faith. Her faith was mature, strong, and contagious - it moved many people to conversion. But it didn't make her crosses disappear. Her faith was so strong that she fulfilled her promise never to deny God anything that he asked - but it didn't take suffering out of her life. For fifty years she struggled with an interior darkness and the feeling of being abandoned by God. In one of her letters, she wrote:

“Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The child of your Love, and now [I have] become as the most hated one, the one You have thrown away as unwanted, unloved... Where is my Faith? Even deep down right in there is nothing but emptiness and darkness.”

Sometimes it happens that we don't experience the full power of faith in our lives because have the wrong idea of what faith really is - we think a mature faith makes for smooth sailing in life, when in fact, it doesn't. Faith is not a problem-free philosophy - that's superficial and naïve. Faith is strength with length. It's the power to persevere through difficulties, the power that comes from knowing that our Father's in charge.

Today we are given an opportunity to reflect on what it means to have faith and to reflect on our own faith. In the Gospel passage today, the Apostles ask Jesus to “increase our faith.” What a prayer! How does Jesus respond to such a request? In order to comply with their request, Jesus begins to instruct them on faith. He reminds them that faith is humble and obedient. It is simple and sincere. An increase of faith, then, comes to those resolute with the conviction that the vision of faith “presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.” It is a complete trust in God that He is true and that He fulfills the promises He makes to His people. “Faith is,” the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hb 11:1). 

In today’s world we have the tendency to confuse faith in God with that which comes from within ourselves. Faith is not something we make up. Our faith is received, handed on to us and we are invited to assent to certain beliefs that will change our lives and lead us to become the men and women we have been created to be – in other words, faith invites us to freedom. Through faith we discover who are called to be. Faith leads us to see in ourselves the image of God and leads us out of self-isolation and self-indulgence. Faith invites us to an encounter the One who reveals to us the true nature of our humanity. When we profess the words of the Creed it is most appropriate to examine our hearts. When we say the words: “I believe in…” These are the beliefs to which we assent that require a deep sense of humility and obedience. They are communal and personal. We are called then, to rediscover the content of faith and give our assent to these beliefs.

For we must remember, faith has an object – God Himself in His fullness as revealed by the Church. This is what we receive. It is to God that faith leads us. We cannot pick and choose, as if to say: “I accept this aspect of my Catholic faith but not that…” We must accept and assent to the whole package. For this faith is meant to challenge us because it leads us to conversion of heart and freedom of the soul. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us, in his Apostolic Exhortation Porta Fidei that:

“During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment. The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfillment in the mystery of his Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his resurrection. In him who died and rose again for our salvation, the examples of faith that have marked these two thousand years of our salvation history are brought into the fullness of light” (PF, n. 13).

If this is our attitude and disposition to faith – humble, obedient, simple and sincere – then we, like Blessed Teresa, will have the strength to persevere through anything. We will slowly, in heart and in mind, move closer to God – closer to becoming more and more fully who He has created us to be. And not just ourselves individually… if faith propels us outward, moves us away from isolation, then we will bear witness to faith, we will help our brothers and sisters see the face God and move closer to Him as well.

In our country today we are celebrating Respect Life Sunday. Throughout this month we are invited by our bishops to pray and do penance to defend the sanctity of human life. May an increase of our faith guide us and give us courage in this act of charity toward the unborn.








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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