22nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY
TIME - YEAR A
At the morning parade in Dachau on 22nd July 1943,
six prisoners were found to have escaped. Retribution was swift
and brutal. Randomly selected, 12 people were hanged. As the other
prisoners watched their 12 fellow inmates gasp for breath, someone
in the crowd cried out, ‘Where is God?' Silence descended on the
yard. The 12 bodies were now in spasm, jerking and struggling for
breath. As everyone watched, the voice came again, this time more
urgently, ‘Where is God now?' ‘My God', another voice yelled back,
‘My God is hanging there'.
This sort of faith is what today's Gospel is all
about. Christianity is the only world religion that holds that God
took our flesh, suffered, died and was raised to life.
It is certainly true that we have domesticated
the scandal of the cross, even to the point that, these days, it
dangles from various parts of people's anatomies. I often wonder,
had Jesus been electrocuted to death, whether we would have little
golden chairs around our necks? But while we have tried to tame
the reality of Jesus' tortured hours in Jerusalem, the reality of
the cross in each of our lives cannot be so commercially soothed.
Christians are not meant to be smiling masochists.
We are not meant to be lovers of pain – just bearers of it.
We are invited, by Jesus, to see the burden of
suffering in our lives as an opportunity to be faithful to his example.
It also gives us an opportunity to be in solidarity with all those
who suffer in our world. This is easier said than done. When we
suffer in our daily lives, thoughts of others rarely come to mind
easily, but it can be consoling to keep our suffering in context
and know that we are not facing it alone.
We are encouraged to see that suffering can be
an opportunity to grow in love. If we understand our crosses as
our particular schools of love, then we learn more about ourselves
and God and are able to help others carry their crosses as well.
Carrying our cross, however, is not just about
bearing physical, personal, sexual, spiritual or emotional pain;
it can also be in the sharing of our gifts and talents, our love
and compassion. In every gift there is a burden. Following Christ's
example, we are called to share our gifts heroically with anyone
in need, even to the end.
Some people complain these days that God is often
presented as a big marshmallow, all sweet and soft. Today's Gospel
shows the ‘edge' involved in being a follower of Christ. I don't
know of a more demanding vocation in our world than that of taking
up the cross of being faithful, loving and selfless.
And while we are invited to take up our cross and
follow Jesus, we never do it alone. If we have the eyes to see it
and the humility to accept it, Christ, literally, hangs in there
with us every step of the way.
So let's recall the first cross from which we take
comfort as we bear our own crosses. ‘In the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.'
the people of St Francis Xavier - St Clare parish, seek to live
lives, celebrating God’s presence & our faith values
through worship, outreach, service, justice & hospitality.
our Vision Statement
Next meeting: 4 September 2014
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READINGS THIS WEEK
Despite discouragement, God's word burns in Jeremiah's heart.
Offer yourself as a living sacrifice.
Jesus reveals his future death, rebukes Peter.