Here is my homily for the weekend.
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Isaiah 50: 5-9a; James 2: 14-18; Mark 8: 27-35
September 15/16, 2018
Jesus could not be clearer: If we are to be his followers, if we are to become credible witnesses to what he has done for each and all of us by dying and rising from the dead so that we might be with him forever, then we must carry each other’s crosses, just as he carried his cross for us.
No one is exempt from this obligation, especially those who shepherd flocks, and by that I mean we deacons, and priests and bishops of the Church who are to lead, strengthen and protect the flock of Christ, the Church, the Family of God, from all harm.
All of us who are fathers and mothers, shepherds of domestic churches, particular families, are also included.
We must become “cross-carriers,” bearing not only the crosses in our own personal lives, but also the crosses of those for whom we are responsible.
There is no greater love that to lay down one’s life for another. To carry the cross of someone you love so they will live, this is a noble thing, and a great obligation.
Nothing is more noble than to carry the same cross that Jesus carried on the way to Calvary, and Jesus continues to carry that cross whenever one of his people suffers and is in need.
Two thousand years ago, two people carried Christ’s cross: Simon of Cyrene, and our Blessed Mother Mary. They both carried Jesus’ cross, each in their own particular way.
Simon carried a physical, tangible cross. He saw, touched, smelled, and tasted it. Forced into carrying the cross with Jesus, he bore it side by side, cheek to cheek, with Jesus. He walked with Jesus, step by step. He felt the same whip, and labored under the same weight. He accompanied Jesus all the way to Golgotha. Simon of Cyrene bore the wood of the cross and accompanied Jesus so closely he no doubt touched his face. His sweat and blood mingled with the sweat and blood of Jesus. Are we willing to get that close to someone in need, and carry their cross with them?
Mary’s carried a spiritual and very emotional cross. She, in a profound and intimate way, as only a mother could, experienced her Son’s cross. Mary carried in her Immaculate Heart the cross of her Son, and as we are told, seven swords pierced that heart of hers. Her heart and his were united. Are we willing to care and love someone so much as to feel their pain and know their need, as Mary felt and knew?
Will we, in our lives, bear our physical and spiritual crosses, the crosses of others, crosses that Jesus continues to carry in their lives? Will we be like Simon? Will we like as Mary?
Jesus says we must be.
We must be “cross-carriers” and become the kind of witnesses that are so desperately needed at this time in the Church, now badly wounded by those who were responsible for caring and protecting and guiding her.
We who are fathers know instinctively what cross-carrying means. We are life givers. We are protectors of life, sustainers of life, and guardians of our families. We have an inner sense that alerts us to those who would harm our wives and families. We move against any such threat to them. We safeguard our flocks, our families.
Mothers, you already know what cross-carrying means. You bear life into the world, then hold it, feed it, care for it and nurture it. You suffer when your families suffer. You would gladly substitute your life for any of your family members if you could when they are in danger. You instinctively feel the pain of your children. You know when your husbands are in trouble.
Deacons, priests, and bishops need to begin to learn from us fathers and you mothers what cross-carrying is all about, for you are their families. We must learn to protect and support you much better. We must become more like Simon, more like Mary. We must carry your crosses, not put them on you.
Fathers, continue to carry the crosses of your wives and children, and in doing so be close enough to them to see in their crosses what Simon saw in the cross of Christ.
Mothers, continue to carry the crosses of your husbands and children by keeping your hearts open and loving, even should your hearts be pierced seven times, as was Mary.
Will the clergy of our Church be willing to learn from all of you how to become better “cross-carriers,” how to accompany you, lead you by serving you, and never ever harming you?
I would like to conclude with this prayer:
God our Father, protect us from all harm.
God the Son, walk with us each step of the way.
God the Holy Spirit, inspire us to newness of life and of love.
Triune God, send forth your holy angels to surround us with their care.