Archive for June, 2016

Salvific Suffering

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Zech 12: 10-11; 13:1; Gal 3: 26-29; Luke 9: 18-24

Dc. Larry Brockman


Suffering!  It is something that all of us try to avoid, and yet, it is an integral part of life for all living creatures.  Jesus told his disciples that he would suffer greatly in our Gospel.

In fact, Jesus fulfills the prophecy in our first reading.  Jesus, part of the Trinitarian God-head, was sent by His Father to become one of us.  God’s first born son suffered greatly at the hands of the establishment.  He was not exempt.  And all of us mourn the horrible tragedy that Jesus endured on the cross.  But as Zechariah says, when Jesus fulfilled his salvific mission, he brought to the “inhabitants of Jerusalem”  “A fountain to purify from sin and uncleanliness”.

What does that mean?  Well, the innocent God-made-man suffered for all of us; he suffered mentally, spiritually, and physically; but bore it all because it was the will of the Father.  Jesus showed all of us the way to bear God’s will for us with dignity and resolve, even if it means suffering.   And all of us are purified from our sin and uncleanliness if we believe and follow Jesus.  Jesus made it clear that if we are to follow him, we must each suffer too when he says:  “He must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”.

Now, I think that many of us are a bit confused about what our cross is.  We focus on Jesus horrible fate; and maybe even presume that to be worthy of God’s favor  We are going to have to bear the same kind of test.

But that is not the case.  St. Paul tells us that “through faith, we are all children of God”.  Yes, we need to believe first and foremost.  And Baptism symbolizes that we believe and embrace that faith.  Even if we were Baptized as an infant, that is the case because through our parents, family, the church, and our own efforts as well-meaning Christians, we come to believe and to live that faith just exactly where we are planted.  We cannot earn our salvation, our favor with God.  But through God’s infinite mercy, we are forgiven our sins and made sharers of the salvation that Jesus earned for us.

And so, although we are all sinners, we are all given the opportunity to choose to carry our crosses.  Our crosses are the talents, limitations, irritations, challenges to our faith, and decisions we make in life as each of us walks through life.  Some of us suffer physically with chronic diseases or life-threatening illnesses.  Some of us suffer from the burdens of caring for others; some of us suffer from the ravages of old age; and some of us work long hours for years and years.  Some of us suffer mentally, under pressure from relatives, bosses, coworkers, and others in our lives.  Some of us suffer spiritually because we want something for ourselves other than what we have been given by God; and in some cases, we want something different than what we have been called by God to do.  But all of us, in one way or another, suffer in this life.

Today is Fathers Day.  Many of us are Fathers or Mothers.  The Cross we bear in being a Father or Mother is a significant part of the lives of those of us who chose marriage and family as a vocation .because along with the many joys of being a parent, there are moments of suffering- separation, pain over a child’s misery, and clashes of wills.  Our responsibilities never end when it comes to our children and even our parents.  We need to focus on being the best parent possible in parallel with accepting all of the other elements of the daily cross God has given us.

And so, the major challenge in life is to find God’s peace and joy in the midst of accepting and carrying our crosses.  That’s what Jesus showed us through the Gospel.  That means we continue to believe and to trust in him no matter how difficult the suffering; and no matter how grim the situation. .And we need to be ready at any time for the ultimate test- namely, are we following his will- our crosses to bear, when he calls us home.

Just one week ago, 50 people here in Orlando were brutally mowed down by a maniac.  These folks had no hint that there time had come.  Yet, we can be called at any time, like these 50 folks; circumstances beyond our control can result in our time coming.

Are you ready; are you carrying your cross as Jesus asked you to do?  Because if you are doing your part, then recognize the promise Jesus leaves you with in today’s Gospel.  “Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it”.