Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


"The True Measure of Humanity is essentially determined in Relationship to Suffering and to the Sufferer"
Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
March 4th, 2012
Year B


“It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?"
"But you shall meet me, dear one," said Aslan.
"Are -are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund.

"I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.
In this passage of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy and Edmond are saddened by Aslan’s departure. Aslan, however, gives them hope and brightens their state by giving them the anticipation of seeing him again. It is this hopeful anticipation that warms their hearts.

In some way, Abraham understands this hope. He anticipates the divine mercy of God in responding to the command to slaughter his only son, Isaac. Such an assurance could be the only thing that would move Abraham to so great a depth of obedience to God. His faithfulness is a sign for what is to come, what will be fulfilled in Christ. The Book of Genesis alludes to that fulfillment by telling us that Abraham took his son to the land of Moriah – the place believed to be where Jesus was crucified. Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice; Jesus carried the wood of His cross. On the altar Abraham had built, a ram was sacrificed in place of Isaac. On the altar of the cross, Jesus, the true Lamb of God, was sacrificed – He who was handed over for us all. The entire affair prefigures the sacrifice of Christ – the moment when Christ defeated sin and death and opened for us the gates of eternal life. We can, therefore, say that Abraham surely anticipated God’s divine mercy.

But as for the Apostles being led up a high mountain, what were they anticipating? Surely, they could anticipate a grueling trek – and if any one of us enjoys hiking, we know just how arduous it can be. In my own estimation, they were probably expecting some sort of private teaching, maybe even a miracle. Indeed, they witnessed more than a miracle, they witnessed a metamorphosis.
Much like the Old Testament reading we just heard, this episode from St. Mark’s Gospel is also a sign of things to come, of events yet to be revealed. Jesus “takes” His disciples, meaning, He calls and unites them to Himself. He led them up a high mountain – a major symbol of salvation throughout scripture. As Pope Benedict XVI describes it: “the mountain serves…as a the locus of God’s particular closeness…the mountain is the place of ascent – not only outward, but also inward ascent; it is a liberation from the burden of everyday life, a breathing in of the pure air of creation” (Jesus of Nazareth). Here, we see how this too prefigures His passion, death, and resurrection. The difficult hike up the mountain sends the message that the road of discipleship is one of suffering, of trials and difficulties of all sorts. Yet, at the same time, when the summit is reached, when the goal is met, there is the glory, there is the transfiguration – the metamorphosis.

Jesus makes known His glory at this moment not for His own sake but for the disciples and for ours. It is as if He is saying to them – and to us – this is what you may anticipate, this is your hope, to share my glory. This is to be our glory, this is that for which we hope and rightly anticipate. But it does not come without cost; it does not come without price. We must first be “taken” by Christ up the high mountain; we must first be united to His suffering, His passion. Again, Pope Benedict XVI comments in his Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi (37-38):
“...We can try to limit suffering, to fight against it, but we cannot eliminate it. It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love…The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society.”
It is for our own benefit, therefore that we engage in these sacred days of Lent through prayer, fasting and almsgiving – the disciplines of the Lenten journey. Perhaps we may add too, the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet – particularly on Friday’s – the recitation of the rosary, as well as the common practice of “giving something up” for Lent. For this is truly a journey, it is the journey of our own “via crucis” that leads to the glory that awaits us in heaven. It is, indeed, the process of our own transfiguration, our own metamorphosis.

With the apostles, then, let us ask ourselves: what do we anticipate Christ will change in us this Lent? What change do we expect to see in ourselves? How do we wish to be “taken” by Christ to become more closely united to Him?

For we must realize that knowing Christ in the trials of life, in the sufferings we endure – however great or small they may be – leads us to knowing Him fully and sharing in His own glory. That is our hope and we move forward then, on this Lenten journey, in joyful anticipation of the grace that awaits us ay Easter and beyond.









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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