Homily 22nd Sunday of the Year A The Cross

By 10:17 AM

Homily 22nd Sunday of the Year A

In the first reading from the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet acknowledges that what he thought God wanted of him was not so easy. He didn’t realize the suffering he would endure by following the word of the Lord. From a human perspective he wanted to stop and no longer do what God had called him to do. But from a relational point of view—his relationship with God—he still desired to follow the Lord and not his own human feelings. He chose not to stop.

He likens this relationship “like a fire burning in his heart.” This is what Jesus was also experiencing, when he proclaimed the following . “I have come to light a fire on the earth. How I wish the blaze were ignited! I have a baptism to receive. What anguish I feel till it is over.” (Lk 12:49-50)

Jeremiah was aware of God’s presence and love within him. He knew God’s call. He knew the rejection from the people. He was aware of the judgment of the Lord’s words for the people. He was committed to following the Lord and proclaiming the Lord’s message to the people.  This was the cross he was embracing.

In the Gospel, Jesus, though sinless, knew that the call of the Father was to take on the sins of the world, to offer his life for our life, to embrace the cruel death of the cross at the hands of others.  While Peter urged Jesus to run from this thought, Jesus reprimanded him: “You are not thinking as God does.”

Jesus reminds us that the cross—whatever it is—the difficulties with a marriage, the disease of life, the things we have no control over, our own weaknesses, hurts from others—is a means of victory not defeat. As Jesus defeated eternal death and sin through his death and resurrection, he now invites us to walk in the same path.

The question to ask is how does this play into the over-all picture for which I was born, namely, how will this affect my eternal salvation, life with God forever?

Today, many people are facing the decision to deny Jesus or face death. Some have folded and others have stood firm. They are not desiring death but they are not willing to surrender the most precious of all gifts—life with God. The cross is the crossroad leading to heaven or to hell.

In the second reading Paul also experienced difficulties as he sought to fulfill the call of Jesus to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. He had his own crosses. At one point, he almost came to despair, except for the grace of God. He shows that one’s attitude needs to be properly focused. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.” (Rom 12:2) In other words, we are called to see things from God’s plan and will and not from our human feelings or the expectations of others.

Only the one like Jeremiah, like Jesus, like Paul, like Mary—whose relationship with God is real and deep—can look the cross in the eye and not run from it. Why? They saw something—someone—greater beyond the cross.  Their hearts were captivated like Jeremiah; their lives were committed like Paul. The love of God is stronger than the love of self.  Only by grace can one make this decision. But the grace is there for each of us by God’s promise.

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