Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come After Me

August 28, 2011

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Jeremiah 20:8-9

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"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 will find it.
Matthew 16:24-25


How we carry the crosses of our lives is the best statement of our love for Christ. Piety is our relationship with Christ. The comings of God into our lives we call consolation. When our hearts come alive to the joy of serving Christ, we are encouraged beyond human doing. God touches our lives with an excitement that makes the burdens of our life light. Crosses that we make for ourselves that weigh us down are not the cross of Christ. My experience of God in my life pleasures me even as I am aware that I am being set up for work of Christ that will cost me. The work of the Lord is never very far from the Cross of Christ in our lives. Paul in Romans 12 challenges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. It is by the sweat of our brow that we draw closer to our Lord. Even as God’s love for us is shown in the coming of Christ with his cross, our love for God has the counter part of carrying our crosses in his name. Love takes us to union with Christ which is the logic of our piety. If we want the ultimate union that love brings us, there is no bypass of the cross of Christ.


Jeremiah claims his is duped by the Lord. He is mocked by everyone. People laugh at him. Jeremiah does not have the example of the Cross of Christ to make sense out of the way he is treated like a fool. Because we love Christ we study how we can be more like him. Our love for Christ takes us to a profound union with his life. He chose the short life, the poverty and the disgrace of the cross for our redemption. Our love makes it the God logic of our lives that we would choose to be like him so that we can be one with him. Love takes us to the union of all that we are with all that we see Christ would be in our lives. The logic of the cross influences the choices of our lives. The God happiness of our lives flows out of our perceived closeness to Christ and our desire to be one with him. The great saints of the ages that make Christ real to their times lived the crosses of their lives with a gusto that can shock our souls into being like Christ in our day and age.


Our love for God is shown by our deeds. Love is never the mere words of the cross. Christ taught his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer. Peter reacts strongly in our gospel to Christ’s prediction of his passion. Prayer, fasting and good works are what nourishes discernment. If we are to follow Christ up to Jerusalem and discern what we must do, we need to bring the weapons of the spiritual life to bear on our spiritual laziness. We go up to Jerusalem to die with Christ as Thomas says. We do not stop at the hill of Calvary outside Jerusalem. We must climb the hill with Christ. Our falls on the way up will not keep us down if we keep our eyes focused on Christ and what he has done for us. The challenge is to love one another as Christ has loved us. We go to the cross of Christ not to stare at what he has done for us. We go to the cross of Christ to take his place. Our work in the name of Christ is no punishment. Our happiness flows from the heart that is pierced on the Cross. We become the love of Christ from his cross by the nobility of the way we carry our crosses for the sake of each other. Christ is our way, truth and life as we dedicate ourselves to the hope of our call to be the presence of Christ.