Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


3rd Sunday of Lent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
March 3rd, 2013
Year C

In February 2007 I made a pilgrimage. At that time, some friends and I journeyed to Lourdes, France. None of us had ever been there before and I needed at that time to visit the Blessed Mother and the place of healing that had built up since her miraculous appearance to St. Bernadette. At that time in my life there was a deep inward need for God’s gift of healing, comfort and peace. I could not imagine a better place to go than to Lourdes. I was first amazed that small town of Lourdes could accommodate so many pilgrims. There were plenty of hotels and restaurants to stay and eat; and countless religious goods stores in order to buy souvenirs. In fact, I was somewhat taken aback by the commercialism of the town… so much so that I thought to myself: “I hope that the atmosphere of the church and the grounds of the basilica are not the same as the town.” To my delight, the entire area surrounding the grotto and inside the church itself was such a place of quiet and peace. Even in the midst of the fact that it was on February 11th when we were there, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes as well as the 150th anniversary! The place was crawling with pilgrims and yet, I still was able to experience the peacefulness of God’s grace while there. My friends and I happened to meet a Welsh priest who was there with his people from his parish. He took us under his wing for the 3 or 4 days we were there. We had Mass with him, ate and prayed with him. He really guided our journey and because of that, it proved to be the experience of a lifetime.

A pilgrimage is defined as a religious journey. A mission, if you will, of an external nature that is indicative of an inward disposition or the desire for a greater awareness of the presence of God in our lives. For instance the Stations of the Cross devotion is like a pilgrimage that shows our desire to be more willing to conform our lives to the cross. The point is that what we outwardly has an effect on our interior dispositions – our lives of faith, hope and love. As such, Christianity is very much indeed a bodily religion. We don’t live our faith solely in our minds. It is not caught up in abstract notions. Catholicism is lived and breathed and encompasses everything about who we are as human beings.

This, I think, is the point of the parable of fig tree. The soil needs to be cultivated in order for the tree to grow. If the soil is not rich and fertile, one can expect it to whither and die. The parable is a warning about the effects of sin and allowing the corruption of sin to take root in our lives. The unfruitful fig tree is symbolic of Israel’s unresponsiveness to Jesus and His mission. It must cultivated, taken care of, and nourished in order to bare fruit. This is no easy task. It takes hard work to till the soil, plant the seed, and nourish growth. The same is true with regard to our faith. Jesus calls us to bear good fruit in our lives, to make manifest outwardly that which lies on the inside. Therefore, our faith and devotion must be cultivated; we must work at it, strive for the greatest of God’s gifts, the highest of virtues and choose each day the path that leads to God. This means that we are by no means to neglect our duties and be lazy but rather respond to His invitation to turn away from sin, both outwardly and inwardly. We are called to use our God given freedom as means to act rightly – not to choose to do whatever I feel like but rather to choose to do what is good because it is good (because it leads to God).

Yet, in order to accomplish the task of cultivating and nourishing our faith we need the proper tools. Our Diocesan Men’s and Women’s Conferences is one such way to make a pilgrimage this Lent. By engaging in a day of prayer, penance, adoration, and worship we manifest a desire – by our outward actions – to draw closer to Jesus in our hearts. The conferences help to guide us in our faith journey, help us to uproot sin and so live more fully for God. They provide an opportunity to withdraw from the world, at least for a day, and focus on our faith, focus on what is truly good for our souls and renew us on the path to holiness.

This year’s Men’s Conference has, however, taken an unfortunate turn. With the Holy Father having stepped down, Cardinal O’Malley and the College of Cardinals have the most important task of electing a new pope. Taking his place will be Fr. Warren Savage. Fr. Savage will speak to our men about the Holy Father’s resignation and how that has an effect on the Church and us and our own individual lives of faith. The rest of our line-up remains the same and it will hopefully prove to be a day that challenges us to know more about the faith we live and inspire us to grow deeper into the mystery of God’s love and mercy.

The conferences are indeed, pilgrimages of a sort. Even though we may not be traveling to France or some far distant land, it is still a day in which journey into the recesses of our hearts to in order to cultivate our faith, expel that which is bad and distracts us from God, be nourished by His word and His Body so that we may be bear much fruit, find our faith strengthened and a be set aflame with the fire of His love.










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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