Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


"Jesus Wants Each of Us to find Him, See Him, Know Him, and Love Him"
Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
March 25th, 2012
Year B


In the early 300s, the Roman Emperor Diocletian initiated an empire-wide persecution of the Church. His first victims included his own chief of staff, whose name was Peter. Since Peter had refused to sacrifice to the pagan idols – this was the test used to smoke out the Christians – he was hung up and severely whipped, front and back. They were trying to torture him into denying his faith in Christ - but he stayed true. So the executioners then poured salt and vinegar over his lacerated body. Peter still refused to break the first commandment, so they dragged a cooking stove under him and began to roast what was left of his body over a slow fire. They did this so that the torture would take longer, thinking that they would wear down his resistance. They would move the stove around, so as to torture different parts of his body, one by one. They were ordered to continue doing this until the prisoner renounced Christ. But Peter never did. He ended up dying in great pain and humiliation, just as his Lord had died, innocent of any crime except firmly believing in and faithfully following Jesus Christ.
This was a man who had understood how much Jesus loved him, and courageously showed our Lord the same kind of love in return - a faithful, persevering, and self-forgetful love.

“It was appropriate,” St. Augustine comments, “that the loftiness of his glorification should be preceded by the lowliness of his passion.” St. Augustine’s observation manifests an apparent paradox in the life of Christ. We tend to think that one person who is glorified or made to look superior to others is so due to some lofty accomplishment. Jesus is exalted in and through His humiliation. It is because of what He suffered that the Father raises Him on High. St. Paul reminds us of this fact in his Epistle to the Philippians where he says that Christ humbled himself and became obedient even unto death. And even the thought of His humiliation and approaching death disturbs our Lord. St. John tells us that His soul was troubled. As a man, Jesus seeks comfort in the power and love of the Father, not to be delivered from His passion, rather to be strengthened to carry it out.

This is truly a lesson and encouragement for each of us. We tend to view suffering as something dreadful and to be avoided. Yet, who of us can avoid suffering? These words of Jesus ought to, therefore, be very consoling for us as well. We are often weak in moments of great trial and tribulation. We can sometimes point the finger at God, blaming Him for our woes. This attitude only serves to drive a wedge in between God and ourselves. We can distance ourselves from Him and only further our anguish. In order to be supernaturally effective or become spiritually mature, we must, like the grain of wheat, die to ourselves. We have to forget our own comfort and suffering, we have to shed our selfish tendencies so that the fruits of our humility may be manifest in a deeply felt and lived intimacy with God. Thus, in moments of great weakness and trial, we must turn from Him but rather toward Him. For ultimately, Jesus wants each of us to find Him, see Him, know Him, and love Him. He allowed Himself, therefore, to suffer and to die in order that He might expose His heart to us. The crucifixion manifests to us a heart that is set ablaze with so much love that He is willing to suffer unspeakable pain and humiliation in order that we may come to love, that we may experience His grace, His comfort, His peace and joy. We find in Him our source of eternal life. It is in these weak moments that by turning to Him, we become united to Him.
The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that: “he learned obedience from what he suffered.” He did not turn away from His sufferings but rather embraced them in humility, faithfulness and love. We too learn this obedience – this faithfulness, humility, and love by, as Blessed Teresa of Calutta reminds us: “Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God.”

If we could pinpoint the most sacred time of the year with regard to our faith and worship it is Holy Week and Easter. This last week of Lent propels us into these sacred days where we come together to remember and to celebrate the events surrounding our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. Let us embrace these days – especially Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter – with openness to His suffering, death, and resurrection so that we may be more closely identified with Him in His humility, faithfulness and 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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