Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless each of you!
Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle B, 2015
Ex 20: 1-17; 1Cor 1: 22-25; John 2: 13-25
March 7/8, 2015
“We proclaim Christ crucified; a stumbling block and foolishness to some, but to those who are called, the wisdom of God!”
Fr. Havel told us the first Sunday of Lent during his homily that we are to embrace the cross this Lent. He wants us to embrace it all, to try at least even if we fail to do so perfectly. Then, last Sunday, we heard of the Transfiguration of Jesus, how he revealed his glory as the Son of God to Peter, James and John as they gazed upon him on Mt. Tabor.
So today, I want us to embrace the cross and gaze upon Jesus as part of our Lenten journey.
I’d like you to look at the crucifix behind the altar. Gaze at it; don’t take your eyes off it.
What do you see? Is there anything that moves as you? Is there anything that challenges your faith? Is there anything or anyone there you love, or admire, or in which you believe?
Do you see in Jesus glory or shame?
Do you see in that crucifix the destruction of a temple or the destruction of sin?
Do you see salvation won for you, or do you see condemnation?
Do you see something to be pitied, or someone to be loved?
Do you see it as an opportunity to mock the God who promises so much and yet seems so far from us all too often, or do you see the wisdom and glory of God revealed in human flesh?
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” (John 3: 16)
Can you imagine what Mary saw and must have thought as she took in the cross, as she gazed at the crucifixion of her Son? What did she see? Did she see her son’s failure, or his victory? What did she think? That her whole life had been for naught or that it had been brought to fulfillment?
We can model ourselves after Mary this Lent. We can embrace the cross of Christ as she embraced it. Mary was the boldest of all the witnesses to her son’s life, death and resurrection, and she embraced the cross. We can embrace it too. No, it was not Peter or John, it was not James or Paul who was the boldest witness to the cross of Christ; it was Mary, Mary, the Mother of God and our mother, who boldly and faithfully embraced the cross of her Son that day on Golgotha and continues to do so to this day.
Mary would not have been able to faithfully embrace the cross and follow her son had she not first embraced the Word of God that had come to her from the angel Gabriel. She could not have embraced the cross had she not first nurtured that Word in her Immaculate Heart and only then conceived that Word in her womb giving human flesh to God himself. Mary would not have been able to endure the suffering she experienced with her son at the cross had she not first cradled the Word of God in her heart, nurtured it, and sustained it. Mary’s greatness indeed lay in her faithfulness in embracing the Cross, in her being a sinless follower of her Son. Her greatness lay more in that than in her having given flesh to the Son of God. St. Augustine would write about this many years afterward about Mary. Mary’s greatness has more to do with her being a perfect follower of Jesus her son, more so than in her having given flesh to her son in the womb.
We are to embrace the cross this Lent. On Good Friday, we will embrace and kiss it in our liturgical commemoration. We cannot endure the crosses in our lives if we have not first embraced, received, accepted and nurtured the Word of God given to us, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord! We must hear and accept God’s Word, Jesus, in our lives, hold him, protect him, guard him, love him, cultivate that Word, and welcome him if we are to embrace the cross this Lent.
Meditate on the cross, for there you will find the love of God outpoured for you. There on that cross you will see God’s total commitment to us his people, his total commitment to humanity. There you will see your opportunity to accept God’s call to be converted, redeemed, sanctified, loved, embraced, lifted up in glory, healed, protected from evil, empowered, refreshed and renewed. There you will find the reason why the saints all have said we will see the face of Jesus in the poor and the suffering.
Jesus took upon himself the guilt of us all and he crushed Satan and sin and ultimately death itself. From the cross he now lifts us up in glory with him. The cross transfigures you and me!