Homily to Retreatants

Wednesday, 30th Week in Ordinary Time

October 26, 2022

To Deacons and Wives on Retreat

Ephesians 6:1-9; Luke 13:22-30

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Luke 13:23

Brothers and sisters, the narrow gate opens to the Cross and the tomb. Many a deacon has striven to enter, only to find he is not strong enough, weakened by his wounds.

Look beyond the Cross, beyond the ugliness of Golgotha, beyond the darkness of the tomb. Look to the glory and light that follows. Yes, God allows the Cross and the tomb for us all, but he wills for us the resurrection. God allows our wounds and weakness, but he redeems them and heals us.

The Cross is the narrow gate, through which we must pass. It opens to the darkness of the tomb with its purification. From it we pass to newness of life. The Cross is the gate, the tomb is the wait, and the resurrection is the healing. Pope Francis said, “The Cross is the door to the resurrection.” At Compline every Thursday we pray, “Grant, O Lord, that we may be united in faith to the death and burial of your Son to rise with him to new life.”

Whoever accompanies Jesus through it all, as we have attempted to do during this retreat, will triumph with him.

Brothers, go to the Cross! Stand there listen. Suffer the coming of the Word of the Father into your lives. Suffer the Gospel of which you are heralds. This is the narrow gate. Let Jesus, the Word of the Father, possess you brothers! Accompany him into the darkness of the tomb, and find him and healing Easter morning.

We must listen, which means we must accompany Jesus. We must accompany and listen even unto death. Healing requires pressing our wounds into the wounds of Jesus, and this is a great martyrdom for us all! Pressing our wounds into his wounds brings us healing. Pressing our wounds into his wounds enables us to accompany the people to whom we are sent to serve. By pressing our wounds into the wounds of Jesus we see the unique way God has planned to reveal his Son through us.

Brothers and sisters, what is your Cross? What are your wounds? Beg for the grace of healing. Herald the Gospel in that way.

Maybe it is some form of abuse or neglect. Maybe it is a serious health concern. Maybe it is an addiction to food, alcohol, chemicals, or pornography. Maybe it is having witnessed the abuse of others. Maybe it is combat trauma, or vicarious trauma in your secular profession. Whatever it is, name it, be specific, surrender it, beg for the grace of healing, and then do whatever he tells you to do.

Now is the time to embrace the Cross. Now is the time to heal. Now is the time to do the small necessary things that bring about change. Now is the time to never lose hope in the healing God wills for you. Now is the time. Do not wait.

All of us want to change external things but not many of us want to go through the process of internal change and healing. Letting go of unhealthy self-preservation strategies, and accompanying Jesus can be difficult. Letting go of well-known attitudes, behaviors, sins, or lifestyles we have developed, i.e., our self-preservation strategies, can be difficult. We need to continually do small things over and over again that bring about change. We must never lose hope and never tire of  begging God for healing.

Jesus knew that healing would be difficult for us. Jesus knew the Cross and the tomb would be difficult places for us to go. He knew the gate is narrow. He gives us his Spirit to strengthen and encourage us.

We will not be healed, cleansed, and renewed until we pass through the Cross and into the tomb. We will not be healed until we have stood at the foot of the Cross and remained with the Lord in the tomb. From those places we rise to new life.

Accompany me all the way to Calvary, all the way to the tomb, all the way to the resurrection, and all the way to heaven, Jesus says.

During this retreat, we have attempted to accompany our Lord. We have attempted to remain faithful at the foot of the Cross, in the darkness of the tomb, and with Mary Magdalene on Resurrection Day.

I leave you with this admonition from St. John Paul II who said, “Non avete paura! Spalancate le porte a Cristo!” which translated means, “Do not be afraid! Open wide your hearts to Christ!”

Yes, my brothers and sisters, do not be afraid! Open your hearts and souls to Jesus Christ our Lord.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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