September 13, 2009
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.
I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:6-7
So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. James 2:17-18
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. Mark 8:34-35
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” It is a great breakthrough in our spiritual when we can boast in the cross we have carried for the sake of Christ. A mother asked me to talk to her daughter because she was suffering from the taunts of her friends who were laughing at her because she was Catholic. I said “gladly.” The mother brought me her daughter and I said “congratulations. “ She looked at me with a big smile wondering what she was being congratulated for. She had confusion when I told her: “You have been found worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. The mother heard what I said with a big question mark on her face which suddenly turned to understanding when she realized what I had said. Piety embraces the cross of Christ. The disciples rejoiced that they were found worthy to suffer for the cross of Christ.
Redemptive suffering brings the joy of Christ. It solves the equation of Salvation. Death plus resurrection is the makeup of salvation. Resurrection covers the face of suffering with the joy of belonging whole and entirely to Christ. The more we study the cross of Christ, the more we understand the love of God for us in his Son. Christ, in studying Isaiah, read the foreshadowing of his redemptive mission. The four Suffering Servant chapters of Isaiah reveal the destiny that was waiting for Christ in the plan of the Father for our salvation. The study of the Passion of Christ reveals the price of salvation. The tree of the Cross is well called the tree of Glory. Our claim to fame n heaven will come from how well we carried the cross in our lives. The invitation of Christ is simple. “If you will be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me”. Love is truly giving one’s life for the sake of another. There is no bypass of the cross of Christ if we want salvation. I need to look at the difficulties in my life and recognize the cross of Christ.
Saint James says it well. “Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.‘ Actions speak louder than words. Our Apostolic actions reveal the answer to the question that Jesus puts to us. “Who do you say that I am?” The good that we do for one another is how we show our love for Christ. Getting involved with the problems of our world and trying to do something about them reflects our love for Christ. What we do for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the naked, the prisoners, Christ takes as done for himself. We need to love one another with the realization that what we give away in the name of a better world is how we live in the love of Christ. We need to cover the bases of the Corporal Works of Mercy. If we reach out to one needy person every day, we will have done our part to give a good answer to the question Christ put to his disciple. Christ identifies with every little person of our world. He has oneness with all those who suffer as he takes our suffering to himself The Son of God accepts every good deed of ours as our personal love for him. A good deed every day keeps the devil away.